Decorating ceramic pieces doesn’t have to be limited to glazes and slips. You can also draw on your in-progress pieces using brush-less implements such as underglaze pens, chalks, pencils, and more. These handy tools allow you to achieve greater detail, whether you’re creating a picture, adding lettering, or producing an abstract design. They can be pricey, but investing in a set can vastly expand your creative possibilities. Below, explore five of our favorite underglaze drawing tools for ceramics.
1. Amaco Underglaze Chalk Crayons
Use these crayons directly on your bisqueware to achieve rich colors and unique effects. This set of eight colors invites experimentation: You can use the crayons alone to create fine lines or with water to create watercolor-like designs. Try working them with your fingers, too, to create interesting textures. These chalk crayons are cylindrical and short—they feel and even perform very much like pastel sticks, which makes them great for intuitive drawing.
2. Mayco Designer Liner
If you have a steady hand, this black liner provides a useful way to execute designs, from simple lines to complex decorations. Nontoxic, clay-based pigment comes in an easy-squeeze 1.25-ounce bottle for direct application onto bisque or greenware, and the flow is further controlled by a narrow metal tip. No runniness here! You can also use it with a brush, of course. While the pigment fires to a matte finish, you can always apply a layer of clear glossy glaze on top to achieve your desired sheen.
3. Amaco Underglaze Decorating Pencils
Yes, these are expensive pencils, but they’re worth every penny. Armed with these, you can draw on your ceramics as if drawing on paper. The lead-free pencils offer firm cores that leave crisp color on clay; you can use them to create intricate linework or subtle shading, and you can even erase your errors. When fired, the markings retain intense, accurate hues. This set includes pencils in six colors, housed in a plastic case for safekeeping.
4. Mayco Designer Liner Kit
If you like the idea of the Mayco liner in black, consider purchasing it in many colors. This set includes 10 liners in yellow, two shades of blue, two shades of green, and more. The colors remain true once fired—you don’t have to worry about your work fading or smudging in the process. You also get a slim instruction book with tips on creating clean and crisp lines and taking care of your liners.
5. Gaunt Industries Underglaze & Mixed Media Applicator Set
A fun way to decorate your ceramics: dispense slim lines of slip to form slightly raised designs. Use this pair of plastic bottles to experiment with that process, also known as slip trailing. They are flexible and respond very well to pressure so it’s easy to steadily squeeze out consistent lines. Each holds 2 ounces of glaze and is equipped with a different sized needle so you can choose the best width for your projects. The needles are one-inch long, giving you enough distance to reach tight spots while allowing you to keep your hand close for control.