I am going to decorate my own dishes, ostensibly
March 7, 2008 6:56 AM   Subscribe

Ceramics filter: What sort of medium is the gold paint (?) that is used to decorate fine china/ tableware?

I am guessing it's some sort of porcelain paint- but of higher quality (contains actual gold?) than the craft paint I might see at the local store. Does anyone know where I can purchase this? And: can I apply it/ bake it on with regular brushes and a conventional oven?

In short: What is it, where can I get it, how do I use it? (and it needs to be food safe)

posted by InstantSanitizer to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I took my ceramics classes in college I had to use some of the traditional gold and metallic colors as part of a capstone course. The paints were quite different from what you'll find in a craft store and quite toxic. I had to work under a ventilation hood or everyone in the studio would have gotten sick.

Wikipedia has a good explanation of what exactly that stuff is:

"The quantity of gold consumed for decoration of pottery and porcelain is very large. The gold leaf is dissolved in aquaregia, and the acid is driven off by heat; or the gold may be precipitated by means of iron sulphate. In this pulverulent state the gold is mixed with ~1th of its weight of bismuth oxide, together with a small quantity of borax arid gum water. The mixture is applied to the articles with a fine hair pencil, and after passing through the fire the gold is of a dingy color, but the lustre is brought out by burnishing with agate and bloodstone, and afterwards cleaning with vinegar.

Mechanical and chemical gilding of metals has been largely superseded by electroplating."

(See also Ormolu)
posted by Alison at 7:11 AM on March 7, 2008

It isnt paint, its gold leaf. It is applied by a second firing at a lower temperature then the initial firing which put all of the other stuff on the porcelain.

So, you can't do it at home, you might be able to find a professional potter to do it for you, but most arent set up for that in this country.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:18 AM on March 7, 2008

The glaze is called lusterware,
posted by hortense at 9:04 AM on March 7, 2008

There is paint specifically for glass, which you can fire on to the glass in a kiln (your oven won't get hot enough). I'm not sure if it's food safe, but it might work on glazed ceramics. I think it is available in gold, but I'm not sure. If it is it will probably have a different finish than lusterware. I've got a book that covers this, but it's not nearby at the moment. Hmm... the cover photo does seem to feature an object with some gold paint on it.

Gold colored craft paint is not going to be remotely similar to anything used to finish ceramics, and putting craft paint in your oven is going to be very much like putting plastic in your oven.

If your objective is just to decorate your own dishes, there are ceramics supply stores where you can buy bisqueware (unglazed pottery) and glaze, often the same store will have a service to fire the painted bisqueware into finished items. Don't let one of these places have a go at throwing your glass painted item into the kiln with the pottery, it won't work out well. You can probably find a small used kiln for under $300.
posted by yohko at 12:48 PM on March 7, 2008

There are a number of commercially-available gold solutions (glazes) that can be applied with a brush as would most any type of ceramic overglaze. Contact your local ceramic shop for a number of options.

You can't fire it off in you home oven, however... a gold firing is done at a temperature *significantly* less than a typical glaze, but it's still done in a kiln at a temp of 600 to 650 degrees F.
posted by deCadmus at 6:00 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

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