How to Use Stains

Glaze StainsWEB (064-1)
Stains can be added to any glaze to impart colour. The make up of the glaze can effect colour development and the notes on Potters Stains & Mason stains regarding glaze composition should be investigated prior to using the stain in any particular glaze. To give you an example, a lot of stoneware glazes containing zinc will leach out the colour of some stains. Therefore we recommend EVB6031 Powder Zinc Free Clear Glaze for Stoneware.  Refer to our stain composition fact sheet.

Recommended Base Glazes

Clear White
EQB6101 EQB6400 EQB5223 EQB5381 Earthenware EQG5262 Earthenware – Gloss
EQB6250 EQB5490 Middle Fire / Stoneware
EVB6327 Middle Fire – Gloss
ESB4914 Stoneware – Gloss
EVB6031 Stoneware – Zinc Free Gloss

To a clear glaze, stain will give a bright vivid colour and to a white glaze it will give pastel shades.

Stains can be added to glazes up to about 10%. When stains are being added to glazes it is best to run the mix through a sieve prior to use, this minimizes specking of the glaze. The sieve size should be at least 120 mesh, but preferably 200 mesh.

Body Stains

Some stains are more satisfactory body stains than others. Please refer to stain composition data prior to use. Varying the percentage of a stain added to a body or a slip will give varied strength of colour. It is most important that when a stain is added, the slip should be sieved through the finest sieve practical to minimize specking; 120 mesh is recommended.

In some cases the addition of the stain will alter the glaze-to-body fit, this should be tested first. In other cases, for example with the cobalt stains, it can effect the fluxing temperature of the body. Again this should be sample tested first.

Adding stains to a plastic body is slightly more difficult. You can mix the stain with water and paint the stain on to layers of plastic body then join and hand wedge them together. The more you wedge the better the colour blends through the plastic clay. Prior to painting the stain it would be best to run this mix through a sieve to minimize specking; 120 mesh is recommended.

Preferably with plastic bodies it is best to dry them out, add the stain by weight, mix up with water to a fluid state, run the blend through a sieve (120 mesh is recommended), then de-water on a plaster batt.

Mixing Suggestions

Quantity Clay Stain Addition Equivalent
 10kg AA1 Imperial Porcelain 4317

AA10 Superior White Porcelain

AA100 No10 Stoneware

AA103 PB103 Fine White Stoneware

AA21 Feeneys Fine White Stoneware

AA300 White Earthenware

 625gm  8%

Stains can also be blended into prepared engobes. The stain can either be added as a powder, mixed with the engobe thoroughly and then sieved or, because the engobe is quite viscous, it is preferable to mix the stain with a small amount of water, mixing it into a paste form and then mixing into the engobe. This way the specking is kept to a minimum. It can be reduced further by running through an 80 or 120 mesh sieve.

Mixing Suggestions

Quantity Engobe Stain Addition Equivalent
1L AE21 White Engobe 100gms 8%
1L AE5139 Base Coat 100gm 8%

Underglaze Stains
Stains should be mixed with Walker Ceramics Brushing Medium (Product Code CB180) or Colour Application Medium (Product Code CB181) to impart some green strength, good flow characteristics and also to act as a suspension agent. They should be mixed to a consistency of smooth cream. The stain can then be applied to either greenware or bisque then allowed to dry before glazing.

Some recipes used in the field are as follows

Stain Clay / Slip Flux/Flux Extender Medium
30 gm 2 to 4 gm clay 2 to 4 gm 100 ml
20 gm 100 gm slip 5 gm 20 ml

Due to different refractoriness of different stains the amount of flux addition may vary.
Care must be taken to keep the stain application thickness to a minimum. If stain is applied too thickly it can peel off during the drying, glazing or firing stages. It is best to practice first on a sheet of paper to get the right decoration and application thickness. Water can also be used as a medium but the application will lack green strength and flow. This is the reason the Walker Ceramics Brushing Medium or Colour Application Medium are recommended.

If brushing medium is used and the stain is being applied to greenware and then is to be bisque fired, it is advisable to add 5 to 10% of a clear glaze (flux) maturing at the same temperature as the ware you will be firing. This will impart some fired strength to the final stain. If a flux is not added, the stain can tend to powder or rub off after bisque firing, risking smudging or finger marks on the ware. The addition of the flux can prevent this. This also aids adhesion of the stain to the body if applied to bisque ware and proper merging of the colour and glaze. A body slip can also be used as an addition to these stains to impart green strength, fired strength and binding to the body.

Ceramic stains can also be brushed over an unfired glaze to impart a softness of colour decoration to your ware. This technique is known as majolica. The stain is mixed with underglaze medium and the colour then brushed onto the glazed but unfired pottery. Stains applied in this way will have a much softer edge than applied underneath the glazes as the stain will melt into the glaze during the glaze firing.
Mason and Potters Stains can also be used to alter the colour of the Cesco Underglaze, Wunder Colour and Design Colour ranges.
The stains may be added to Colour Application Medium, mixed thoroughly and preferably run through a sieve to minimize specking before applying to your ware.

Mixing Suggestion

Underglaze Stain
FF44 Snow White 500 ml 20 to 30 gm of selected colour
FK10 Surf Spray White 500 ml 20 to 30 gm of selected colour
FQ13 Cesco White 500 ml 20 to 30 gm of selected colour
FE100 Flux Extenders 500 ml

FE110 Colour Extenders 500 ml

100-250 gm of selected colour

100-250 gm of selected colour