Jump to content

Porcelain Pigment And Pine Oil - Help!


Recommended Posts

I'm new to painting on ceramic tiles, and I was wondering if someone could help.

I recently learned how to paint on white matte tiles (ceramic / porcelain - paint cures at 780 Celsius = 1436 F). I live in Brasil, but I'm moving back to the US in the next few months. I can find the products here, but I can't seem to find them in the US. The person who taught me doesn't speak enough English to know the English terms for Google purposes.

I'm looking for two things:

1) powdered pigment colors - the guy who taught me buys from this store (it's in Portuguese) and the word they use is "esmalta". Google translate says this is enamel, but I'm not sure that's completely correct. I've found powdered enamel, but not for the temp that I need. Does anyone work with this? Can you give me some google terms to use? Or even a website that sells specifically for this temp?

2) The other thing he uses to get the paint to stick to the tile is "veiculo oleoso (pinho)" which I assume translates into pine oil medium. I know this exists, but I again, I can't find it anywhere on any art supply sites. Any help here as well? The product looks like this (again in Portuguese)

This guy buys from these stores, but also buys direct from the various porcelain factories in the area, too. Apparently it's pretty easy to find here in Brasil.

Anyway, any direction would be great. Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The technique you are describing is called China painting. It is a very low temperature technique where you apply colour to an already glazed tile. The Chinese would apply red enamel to their already fired blue and white porcelain pottery.

Ask your supplier about china painting.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great thank you. Is this also called "smalt" in some way? I came across a company that sells this stuff and in their file they use that word, which of course is similar to the "esmalte" word in Portuguese. Just wondering if there's a difference between that and China Paint.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great thank you. Is this also called "smalt" in some way? I came across a company that sells this stuff and in their file they use that word, which of course is similar to the "esmalte" word in Portuguese. Just wondering if there's a difference between that and China Paint.

Do not know the word smalt. Sounds kind of antiquated. Maybe European. You could also look up enameling.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just wondering if there's a difference between [smalt] and China Paint.


To potters, and oil painters, smalt is the name of [potassium] glass coloured with cobalt.

I believe it was the main way that cobalt colours were traded for a long time.


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/smaltgives the derivation as:

[C16: via French from Italian smalto, of Germanic origin; related to smelt]



You might like to click the Download an excerpt  link on


[You may have to complete a free registration first.]



A search will throw up lots of stuff on ceramicartsdaily,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen posted before info about a forum. I think it was International Assc. Of China Painters. It was a wealth of information.


A quick search failed to find this, but did find Porcelain Painters International Online.


This and a few other refs in this thread:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Just a small update on the pigment issue. I went to one of the ceramic factories nearby where my mentor buys his pigment. I bought some of the pigment from the factory. They apparently used to buy this pigment from Johnson Matthey, but JM sold the factory in England to it's employees recently. Now I'm trying to find the name of the new company.


The factory here in Brasil buys from a rep, and I'll call him soon to get the name of the new company. But until then, this is who apparently made the pigment: http://www.glassmatthey.com/colours/ceramic-glaze?_ifa=Completed&_ifc=6140


Still no luck on what the pine oil could be as a vehicle for making the paint stick to the tile (in English).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer your Pine oil question, it's probably Turpentine and Pine rosin which are some of the ingredients for an old school varnish.

This would be your painting medium...varnish

You can get straight pine oil which is an essential oil.. oil that smells good.

In china painting they use oils such as lavender and clove oil and they are exotic useful oils that smell good.

A better explanation of the painting mediums can be found here: http://www.porcelainpainters.com/mediums.htm

I would not recommend some of those motor oil recipes.


As for a medium

I tell you something that the books will not tell you.

The exotic materials that they use are time tested, they work well, have predictable results and are used by classic China painters. You could also use Bouvet Island Yeti oil, but that stuff is pricey.

Virtually any material that is a liquid mixed with the China pigment and sticks to a ceramic surface can be used as long as the liquid burns off when the kiln is fired.

Your medium could be just about any modern day varnish, Shellac, Acrylic, glycerin or bodily fluids.

With China paint your not worried about medium's long term durrability. An Oil painter that paints a canvas wants his medium to last 100's of years.


The standard way to mix pigment is to mix it with a non drying oil on your pallet. As you use the paint from your pallet you mix it with another oil to per mote drying. The drying speed is controlled by the type of oil you pick. A quick drying oil would be used for pen work. A slower drying oil or non drying oil would be used for blending color. I would not reccomend a non drying oil...You will end up marring your work before it is fired, but some people like to live dangerously.


My modern day recommedation would be a water based medium.

You can mix the pigment for your pallet with glycerin (found at the drug store)

and then mix with a artist acrylic medium to get to dry.


Or use mineral oil for your pallet then use a clear thinned oil based varnish as your drying medium.


You can try a variety of materials as a medium to find what you like. Some people would be supprised with what works. Try painting some sample tiles to see what works for you. I have used KY liquid lubricant and love the results. It's like painting with water color. KY works best before it dries and does not rehydrate with water well.


One last thing sometimes adding a flux helps. Get some flux with your China paint and experiment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips. Yeah, the pine oil is for making the pigment stick to the ceramic. I'm painting with a brush on the tile as if it's oil on canvas (same painting style). I was told it works best, but I'm open to new ideas. I just don't have a lot of cash to burn trying to find the right mix (because you gotta burn it to see if it'll turn out well, and that wastes a tile), so I was hoping to find the equivalent to the veiculo oleo pinho.


So Mug, is this turp and pine resin concoction pre-made? Is there a name for it?


It certainly looks dark enough to be a varnish, but it seems more fluid than the varnishes I use for my oil paintings.


One more thing, This pine oil sticks and burns up, but it also wipes clean with a little alcohol pretty quickly if I don't like what I've painted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this may be a situation where things get lost in translation. It's probably shellac


Shellac flakes can be purchased inexpensively from ebay or a woodworkers supply company. It's non toxic when dry.

Shellac dissolves in denatured alcohol and would certainly work. You can make shellac in different viscosities. I would start with a 2lb cut. If you need it thicker add more flakes. A fresh batch of shellac should sit for a day or so before you use it. It will re-hydrate with denatured alcohol and can be removed with alcohol. You can search for details on how to mix real shellac. Shellac may under close scrutiny leave a slight residue on certain surfaces. Shellac can perform like a canvas paint if you pre mix the dry pigment with some mineral oil. The amount of shellac added will adjust the dry time.


Pine Gum rosin would be dissolved with turpentine.


If you want a tried a true method you'll have to dig a little deeper into China paint to see what you might like. The mediums used are often expensive, but you can by a small quantiy to sample on the cheap.


Shellac is really cheap when you compare that to some of the other mediums.

There are many types of mediums to use. Creating a grid of shaded color squares for fired color samples is a good idea.

Here are a couple of examples. These samples give me an idea of what the China paint will look like when fired.

The white dots were to see how opaque the white was over color.

These are some old pics and the samples were quickly done, I have through trial adjusted the paint to suit my needs.


The top picture is after fire, the bottom before with an oil based medium




sample 2

Sample 1

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hm, interesting. Never heard of shellac, but I'll check it out, thanks. But upon some further research, I asked if the turp and pine-resin combination had a name. Are you saying that combination is shellac? I'm getting the impression that shellac is a type of paint, so to speak. The "pine oil" that I'm speaking of isn't a paint, but a vehicle to make the pigment stick to the ceramic.


Sorry, just a little confused.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry..I'll clarify why I was in left field

One of the few things alcohol thins is shellac. For some reason I was thinking THINNER.

Denatured alcohol however cleans all kinds of stuff without leaving a residue.

Turpentine leaves a residue.


A medium in China paint is a vehicle to stick the pigment to the pot. Some of those mediums are Varnish or clear paint, oils that never dry and some are water based. They may call them things like pen oil, but pen oil is pretty much varnish with a fancy name.



The basic ingredients for pine oil are Pine Gum Rosin. It's sold in rock, powdered, or pebble form. The finer will dissolve a little easier and you'll need some turpentine as a thinner.


To make a batch of pure pine oil you can go half turpentine and half powder by volume, you will probably have to heat it up outside on a hot plate (no flames) If you need it thinner add some turpentine


The material that this makes would not really dry, it will be on the sticky side when it's dry.

It should work and you could wipe it away with alchohol and start over.


You can make pine oil that will dry ( the varnish version) and it is way more complicated. The varnish version would need other ingredients that include a base like potassium hydroxide or old school wood ash, possibly linseed oil, alcohol, lavender oil or other driers.

This material like some of the other natural materials ( like linseed oil) can have an exothermic reaction as they dry. So don't leave any rags lying around covered in this oil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, got it. I only need it as a vehicle to get the pigment to stick, so no need for it to dry. And by your description I assume this is really available in a ready-made form (other than the various varnishes you mentioned). I'd have to make this pine oil myself. Never done it before, but no reason I can't try.


I bought a liter of ready-made pine oil here in Brasil, but when I move back to the US I'll have to wait about 90 days for it to arrive in the container and when it's finished I'll need a replacement, so this is good to know.


Thanks a bunch. You've been helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here in the US the readymade version will be called Fat Oil.

Many China painters will tell you that you can leave Turpentine to evaporate, but it's really a slow wasteful way to get what you need.

Cooking up a batch is the cheapest way to go and you will have more control over the medium.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, I'll try it out. This is what I found online after a quick search: http://www.marylandchina.com/fat-oil-1-oz.html


It's a lot smaller than I imagined, but I'll try it out and see what happens.





PS - after doing some searches for fat oil, I came across this pine oil: http://www.thegoodstuff.com/oj14-pine-oil-by-josephi14.html


I wonder if it's the same thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The easiest thing to do is to call the company for the details and they may sell you a larger container.

Link two sounds like it may be a varnish?

Companies really do not want to disclose a time tested recipe. Some of those recipe's would be easy and cheap to duplicate.

I know fellow who started his own paint business. After he did some digging manufacturing paint wasn't as hard as he thought and he makes a better quality high pigment paint.

I would mix my own, but I like to experiment with things.

If you place an order try some of the other oils

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.