Eventsceramics to paint

Do you love pottery class for its fun hands-on creativity but don’t know what to do with the pottery afterward? Finishing your pottery with paint will turn that clay into a unique art piece.

Are you worried about doing it wrong? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Below is everything you need to know, from choosing which ceramics to paint to finishing it with a beautiful glaze. Keep reading to learn all about the process!

Bisque Stage Pottery

When you want to paint your own pottery, you need to make sure it’s in the bisque stage (also known as the biscuit stage). This is the stage right after its first time in a kiln but before the glazing stage. This means the clay’s shape is set and it still has a rough surface.

Trying to apply paint to a glaze will only result in a stressful art session. The surface will be too slick for the paint to adhere to and could result in a streaky finish.

If you only have a glazed piece to work with, then the best thing to do is to use fine-grit sandpaper. Gently rub away at the surface until the texture is rougher so the paint will stick. 

Shapes and Sizes

Any shape or size of pottery works well for painting, but smaller pieces can be tricky. If you’re new to DIY pottery, it’s best to go for bigger sizes with fewer details.

This will give you a lot of flat surface area to paint on without needing to deal with finicky hard-to-reach areas. As you continue painting, you’ll gain more confidence and skill to work on even the trickiest of pieces.

It’s also somewhat dependent on the type of brushes you have available. If you only have tiny brushes, you’ll have a tough time covering the clay in an even layer of paint. Try to match the size of your pottery with the materials and skills you have to work with!

Types of Paint

Before you start painting, you need to gather the right kind of paint. Some paints work better for decorative pieces while others are better suited for clay you intend to use for food or drink.


Acrylic is a versatile medium and it’s cheap as well. It dries fast and vibrant. It also has good coverage, letting you go over any mistakes without any worries of ‘ruining’ the piece.

The issue is that dried acrylic is much like plastic but it isn’t a food-grade plastic. While you could eat or drink from a piece painted with acrylic, it’s better to err on the side of caution. With too much friction on the surface, the paint could chip or wear away with time.

Acrylic is the perfect choice for decorative pieces, due to the bright colors. It’s also excellent for practicing since many brands of acrylic paint are easy on the bank.


Although enamel is often seen as a paint meant for painting metal, it’s a useful choice for pottery. It’s an oil-based paint, which means it’ll take a while to dry. However, like oil paints, this could help with creating beautiful gradients and mixes on the clay.

The colors are strong, so you’ll need a clear medium to mix with the paint if you want something more transparent. It’s also important that you paint in a well-ventilated area. Once finished, this paint is food-safe.

Give the paint 24 to 48 hours to dry before moving on to the finishing stages.


Ceramic paints are similar to acrylic, but they have an added chemical in the paint that lets it cure as it dries. This makes it a more permanent fixture to the clay but also results in a transparent first layer. You’ll need several layers if you want a stronger color.

Since the base is acrylic, you can’t use ceramic paints for food purposes.

Clean Clay

Before painting, give your ceramic piece a quick wipe-down with a moist cloth. This will help remove any collected dust, debris, or loose clay.

If you skip cleaning, those tiny particles could get stuck in your brush while you paint. It might even make a crisp painted detail look jagged and unfinished.

It’s an easy extra step that’ll make the entire process more enjoyable.

Protecting Your Work Surface

Cover your work area with a protective layer of paper or plastic before you begin painting. An apron and short-sleeved shirt will help keep your clothes from getting paint on them, too.

Whether you’re painting with kids or not, accidents can always happen. Better to be mindful of your favorite table before the paint gets spilled!

Final Glazing

Glazing is the final step for any kind of pottery project. It’s the best way to seal everything in place and give it a lustrous finish.

A crucial thing to remember is that acrylic paints can be dangerous in a kiln. Instead of using a firing glaze that’ll set in a kiln, it’s best to use an acrylic-based finish. This will still give you the same beautiful finish and seal that you want from traditional glazing methods, without the risk of a fire.

The cool thing about this method is that there are many types of acrylic finishes. Instead of glossy, you could make your pottery matte.

Enamel paints, on the other hand, will do fine in a kiln with heat-based glazes. It’ll be a food-safe and gorgeous piece of art you can use at your next gathering.

Create Ceramics to Paint for Maximum Fun

The best part of working with ceramics to paint is that you can go from one creative outlet to the next. There’s no worrying about getting bored with one medium when you bounce back and forth. Plus, the result is a uniquely personalized piece of art!

At Artist’s Collective, we understand the need to let loose with colorful paints. We host many workshops and classes for budding artists of all ages. If you’re looking for an easy way to enjoy your creativity, contact us today and we’ll help you set up a painting session for you and your friends!