Porcelain painters hold two exhibitions of pieces from their vintage art form – and invite all to come and learn

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By Peggy Kreimer Hodgson
Porcelain painters

A month-long exhibit of hand-painted porcelain opens May 4 at the Fort Thomas Library and includes an invitation for the public to try their hand at this vintage art. A second exhibition will take place in September at the Newport Library.

Juanita Barrett

Shows include porcelain vases, pitchers, chocolate boxes, teapots, Christmas decorations, jewelry, mugs, trays and plates. All were painted and kiln-fired by members of the Dixie Porcelain Painters, one of three clubs in the state that make up the Kentucky chapter of the World Organization of Chinese Painters.

“We are fortunate to have a porcelain painting club in our area,” said Dixie Club President Juanita Barrett of Alexandria. “But our members tend to be word of mouth. We wanted to let a wider audience know that we are here and welcome new painters.

That’s why the group invites the public to attend a Dixie Club meeting this year and try their hand at porcelain painting.

“We will have brushes, paints and white porcelain for visitors to use and we will fire their pieces,” Barrett said.

The exhibit ranges from vibrant contemporary pieces using multiple techniques to more traditional florals and whimsical pieces featuring mice, bunnies and bees. There are even some early pieces that painters did as beginners.

“The first thing most of us said was, ‘I could never do this,'” said Barrett, who started with a neighbor teaching classes at her home. “You learn by taking it step by step.”

Some works by its members have been exhibited at the National Museum of the Chinese Painters World Organization in Oklahoma City. Some sell their work and make commissions. Others paint for pleasure and family.

Magnolia plate with border by Aino Williams of Florence

Each club meeting includes a featured design or technique, such as poppies or a scene or the application of decorative scrolls. Members share their specialties and business ideas.

It’s not fast art. It takes time, patience and a different way of thinking, Barrett said.

Porcelain painters, also called porcelain painters, do not use traditional paint. The colors are powdered minerals mixed with a flux – similar to powdered glass. You mix the powder with oil to “paint” on pieces of white porcelain enamel. The pieces are fired at over 1400 degrees in an oven. The oil burns off, allowing the mineral colors to become a permanent part of the glaze. Pieces can be fired multiple times as artists add color and detail.

It’s different from traditional painting because you’re literally playing with fire.

Blackberry pitcher with bunny by Peggy Kreimer Hodgson

If the color is applied too thickly, it will flake during baking.

“Different colors ripen at different temperatures,” Barrett said.

Blues and purples can become more vibrant when cooked hot. But this heat can turn reds into browns.

Paints also tend to be transparent. If you paint a light color over a dark color, the black will show through, similar to watercolor painting.

But porcelain painting can be more forgiving than watercolor.

“With watercolor, when you paint a stroke, it’s there, you’re not going to change it,” Barrett said.

On porcelain, paint can be wiped off easily until a piece is fired and the pattern becomes permanent.

Mouse on the lid of a box of chocolates by Peggy Kreimer Hodgson.

“You are your own boss,” Barrett said. “If you don’t like something, you can delete it and redo it.”

“It’s a unique hobby, unlike any other painting.” Barrette said. “If you love it, you can never give it up. It’s addicting.”

Event Facts:

• Interested persons To attend a meeting or learn more about porcelain painting, you can contact Juanita Barrett at 859-635-9496 or club secretary Peggy Kreimer Hodgson at [email protected]

• Meetings take place in Erlanger at 10 am on the first Tuesday of each month, from March to November.

• The May exhibition May 4-27 at the Philip N. Carrico Ft. Thomas Branch of the Campbell County Public Library, 1000 Highland Ave. at Ft. Thomas.

• The September exhibition will be held September 3-30 at the Newport Branch Library, 901 E. Sixth St., Newport.


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