The Low Down on Pigments for Ceramic

Pigments for ceramic, often referred to as ceramic stains, have vastly opened up the color possibilities for potters. And as we all know, adding color to your ceramic art can be a tricky proposition. Unlike working with paints, the raw glaze you put on your prize pot or sculpture often looks completely different from the fired result. So it helps to have a good understanding of all of the options out there for ceramic artists. In this post, we provide the lowdown on pigments for ceramic.

Prepared pigments for ceramic, commonly referred to as ceramic stains, expand the potter’s palette with infinite possibilities. Pigments provide a wide range of color possibilities in clay bodies, inglazes, underglazes, and onglazes.

In order to get a full range of consistent ceramic colors, pigments are used with metallic oxides and salts, many of which are soluble or toxic, to make them stable. By combining these elements, along with clays, silica, and alumina, the industry has come up with 44 different calcined pigment systems covering the entire color spectrum.

Pigments for ceramic solve some of the problems found in using just plain oxides. For example, when pure chrome oxide is used as a colorant to obtain green, it may fume or volatilize in the kiln leading to absorption into the kiln bricks and shelves. The oxide may also effect the color of the glaze. If tin is present in a white or pastel glaze, the chrome reacts with the tin to create a pink coloration. In addition, if any zinc oxide is present in the glaze, you’ll get a dirty-brown color. The solution is to use a green ceramic pigment, of which there are several. One such system is the cobalt-zinc-alumina-chromite blue-green pigment system, where varying the amounts of cobalt and chrome oxides produces a range of colors from green to blue-green to blue.

This article comes from ceramic-arts-network edit released


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