This is a fun craft to do with a group of moms and their kids, one child per adult works the best. Each mom will need:
---One soft brush, any size but 1/2" works the best
---One jar of "One-Stroke Ceramic underglaze", either Duncan E-Z Stroke or Gare One-Stroke. (Of course they can share these, but it's best if they have at least 3 colors to choose from. The best are a dark green, a dark blue or a dark brown. One jar of each color will do 50 hands altogether)
---One pint jar of "clear gloss glaze", which all can use.
---Paper towels and a washcloth
---One blank UNglazed ceramic tile, 4-1/4" (for kids 2 or 3 yrs. old or so) or 6" (for kids over 3) Unless you know someone who does hand-painted tile as a career, these would have to be ordered in cases of 100 or so. The best thing is to call the hobby ceramic stores, where you will get the underglaze and clear glaze, and ask if they have a "molded greenware or bisque tile they sell", and order the quantity you need. Tell them you would like them "fired to bisque."
The most important thing is that the childrens' hands are scrubbed with soap and water, then dried well. Salt, sugar or oils on the hands will prevent the glaze from bonding with the tile. Make sure to wipe the tile well with a clean sponge in plain water. Allow to dry a few minutes.
Tell the kids that it is like hand-painting only without wiggling their fingers. Make it fun, some get scared. Hold their clean hand gently over a tile to make sure their hand will fit, fingers spread out a little. Pick the right size tile and paint one wet coat of glaze across the flat of their open palm, not too runny but not too dry, follwing the instructions for mixing on the bottle. Try to keep their fingers from touching, the more still they keep their hand, the better the clarity. A good print will show fingerprints! But if it smears, it usually does, it's all for fun anyway. If it starts to become a battle with the child, let him go, when he sees the other kids having a good time he will offer his hand to be painted. (I say "he" because it is usually the boys that wimp out, the girls are more adventurous. lol)
Make sure the paint goes all the way to the ends of the fingers and thumb and press the hand straight down onto the surface of the tile, quickly but gently and firmly, rolling the fingers slightly so the print doesnt look like skeleton fingers lol. Lift the hand straight up and see how cool! Wash their hands with soap, the paint is water soluable and non-staining, but dont let them lick it. With a fine brush, write the child's name and date or birthday or age right on the tile. Set it in a safe place to dry well.
If you are nervous about smearing the dry glaze, have them fired at "cone 04" before painting the clear gloss on top. This is the proper way, but if the underglaze is good and dry and you are very careful, it is ok to put the clear glaze on unfired underglaze and fire the tile once at "cone 06" and the results will be the same. Either way, get the large floppy brush again and paint 3 thin coats of clear gloss on the tile and fire to "cone 06".
You can buy frames from most ceramic stores that sell the tiles. They will last forever. Have fun!
Dy Witt has been painting with ceramic glaze since 1984. A lifetime of working with colored pencil prepared her for the layering of color necessary to get good details in the true ceramic process like no one else in the industry. Her passion for wildlife and all growing things is obvious when you view her work.
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