Big Ceramic Store Blog

Handmade Tile Wall Pieces - Part 3

For those of you who were anxiously awaiting part three of the series, I apologize, for not getting it to you last week as planned. Unfortunately, a series of events, led to the post being delayed. With that being said, let's get this party started!

At this point, you have your tiles cut, designed, air dried, and ready for some finishing touches. Have you given any thought to how you want to finish your project? Do you want it to be shiny, bold, muted, organic...

My plan is to utilize underglaze, and Duncan's Clear Matte Sealer, to give my piece the "white washed" and vintage look. With a little luck, it will turn out exactly as planned.     Pst.... you realize I'm only kidding right... pottery RARELY turns out exactly as planned.

With a plan in mind, grab your cup of coffee, and let's head out to the studio!Since I will be demonstrating a white wash finish, I think it's important to share not only what it is, but how to achieve it.

What is "white wash" - Have you ever seen pictures of old farm structures, where the white paint is visible, but the grey of the boards behind the paint is obvious? It has a distressed appearance, and looks weathered. Well, that's the "white washed look."

How to achieve that look - By thinning your underglazes, and brushing it on your piece allowing the brush strokes to show, you will create the look. The amount of thinning you do, will determine how white it looks, and how apparent the brush strokes are. I often use a real thin wash as my base coat, then a thicker wash to highlight the brush strokes. For example;

  • Base Coat - 50% underglaze/50% distilled water
  • Top Coat(s) - 75% underglaze/25% distilled water
    • This is the general rule however; it is dependent on the density of your underglaze. Adjust accordingly.

In this first step, I'm using the 50/50 mix, and painting the entire piece.

Then, using the 75/25 mix, I go over the places I want to highlight with brush strokes. Remember, the coarser the bristle, the more defined the brush strokes will be. It's always beneficial to have a large selection of brushes on hand. I have cheap, expensive, coarse, fine, feathery, wide, skinny... You just never know which ones you will need!

After finishing the white, I decided to add a bit of color. Using the same method for thinning the white, I mixed colored underglaze 50/50 and 75/25, then applied to the areas I wanted to highlight.

Project decoration complete!

Now, it's off to the drying shelf for a few more days, then into the kiln it goes. Since I I used underglaze, I will go straight from bone dry, to max cone to vitrify the clay. Once that's done, a little Duncan Clear Matte Sealer , and we'll be all set!

Check back in a couple weeks for pictures of the final piece, and don't forget to send us pictures of yours at


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