[Clayart] phosphorescent pigments

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Sat Jul 3 15:49:44 UTC 2021

> On Jul 2, 2021, at 8:28 AM, Phyllis Canupp <pecanupp at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am pondering applying phosphorescent pigments on top of some glazed pots
> (nonfunctional of course) as decorative, outdoor pieces…

I have used ‘glow-in-the-dark’ spray paint layered on top of other spray paints or brushed paints, mainly on some of my internally illuminated sculpture, so that it glows softly even after being turned off. (It doesn’t show in the gallery lights, so it tends to startle the gallery attendant who turns the lights off at night!) It is really meant for the final buyer, though, to be seen in their own house. 

Paint in general will not have the archival durability of a fired surface when placed outdoors, so I wouldn’t recommend it for that, and I would be sure that any purchaser is informed of the issue.  A thick resin coating will help protect it from abrasion, though. 

When painting fired ceramics, I try to avoid applying paint over a glossy glaze, as it tends to have poor adhesion. It works fine over bare, primed clay, and I often use paint over Bondo (auto-body filler), which is made to be sanded and to take paint well. It levels the surface irregularities that glaze would not show, but paint does. It also makes seamless transitions between clay and non-clay components, as well as smoothing the assembly joints in multi-part clay pieces. When I do need to apply paint over glaze, I use an acid-etch paste (‘Armor-Etch’, from most hobby shops) to give the surface more ‘tooth’ and retain the paint better. 

I strongly recommend using a thick sealant over any paint applied to sculpture in any medium, to protect agains abrasion in shipping or handling, or even cleaning. There are various acrylic painting varnishes, including some that are only ammonia-soluble, and some that are only thinner-soluble. Avoid the ammonia-soluble ones - too many people clean shiny sculpture with Windex!

I was once asked to come and do restoration on several of my older pieces with partially painted surfaces, all owned by one collector. About $10,000 worth of stuff. It had been (very slightly) damaged in cleaning, apparently that way. While working on-site, I was treated to an ongoing diatribe about “Stupid Mexicans can’t do anything right, fired her of course! Can’t get good help anymore"…etc.  (If you don’t protect the surface for the buyer’s sake, at least protect it for the sake of the hapless person tasked with caring for it.)   :(


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