How to Add Colors to Clay | Ceramics

How to Add Colors to Clay | Ceramics

Welcome back to the studio everybody!
My name is Jim and in this video I’m showing you how to add color to your
clay. So if you’re curious get ready! Now there’s two basic ways you
can add color to clay. One way is using raw materials like these here and the
other way is by using what are called mason stains. Now these are combinations
of oxides and ceramic frits that create reliable, rich, bold and
uniform colors for your clay. Here are some ceramic raw materials. Yellow iron
oxide, copper carbonate, red iron oxide, chrome oxide, manganese dioxide and
cobalt carbonate. You know the Statue of Liberty is made of copper and when copper
gets weathered and oxidizes over time it forms a thin layer of copper carbonate.
That’s why it’s green. Now red iron oxide is oxidized iron. Rust. That’s why it’s
that reddish brownish color. When rust forms on your car the outer layer of
rust is a condensed layer of red iron oxide. Now these last three you see in
glaze recipes but they’re not really good for clay because they’re toxic.
Chrome turns a clay green, cobalt turns a clay blue actually, and manganese dioxide
will turn a clay body black. Especially if you use more of it but you have to
wear gloves and the fumes from the kiln are toxic so I don’t recommend using it.
So here we have hunter green, crimson red robin’s egg blue, and tangerine. I also
have a black. Depending on the color, any one of these can be $10 a pound or $10
for a quarter pound so use them wisely. Let’s make some colored clay! In this
video I’m using two pounds of a very white porcelain. I’m gonna add 1% of this
black Mason stain which is about 5 grams per pound and I also have a respirator
because it is not good to breathe in dust from the Mason stains or anything
for that matter. Use a different surface to wedge this up because it might stain
your canvas wherever your workstation is. Now before I wedge this mason stain into
this clay I’m going to cut this clay into four or five pieces or disks. It makes it
much easier to mix the Mason stain in. If you just dump this on the table and roll
it around it takes a lot longer. Mask on! This is more of a gray than a black
but it’s only 1% so you could imagine what 10% might look like. Although next to the
normal clay you can see it’s quite different. It actually fires a little bit
darker too. Here’s a little pebble I made. Your normal test tile, no glaze. And then
here is one with clear glaze on it. It’s a little bit richer, a little bit
deeper with the clear glaze. You can see I didn’t wedge enough for this first
batch so those streaks in there are big chunks of Mason stain. This one should be a lot better. Now I just got my own batch of Mason stands in for the home studio
so I’m looking forward to making some more colored clays. That’s the end of the
video! If you enjoyed it hit the like button and if you want more consider
subscribing and hitting the bell for notifications. I’m Jim and whenever
possible be sure to make do and learn!

19 thoughts on “How to Add Colors to Clay | Ceramics

  1. Thank you for your video! it helps a lot !! I have a question after watching this video…. how can I know some stains are toxic or non-toxic? I sometimes used cobalt oxides, I didn't know that it was toxic.

  2. You do realize that you weren't wedging the clay?  That technique is kneading (as in kneading bread dough)   There are tutorials on both on YouTube.  You do a good job explaining what you are doing otherwise.  thumbs up

  3. If the coloured clay is used for casting with plaster, will the pigment from the clay wash off once the cast is ready to de-mold?

  4. Hi . Just discovered your channel, enjoying it! I read to mix stain or oxide up w liquid before mixing in clay? Any one better?

  5. Can you clarify the way you reference the percent of stain? There are 453 grams in 1 pound of clay. If you add 5 grams of mason stain and say that is 1% black, are you saying 5 grams of the total 458 grams is a roughly 1% CONCENTRATION or are you saying 5 grams TO 453 grams is a roughly 1% RATIO? In this case, it's a rounding error but I'm unclear if you said say "10% color" to refer to clay whether you mean to 1 pound of clay (1 pound = 16 ounces) you would add 1.6 ounces of mason stain to mix a 10% RATIO of stain to clay or whether you would mean adding 1.8 ounces of mason stain to 16 ounces of clay so that you end up with a concentration of 1.8 oz out of 17.8 total or approx 10.1%. Thanks for the video and sharing.

  6. Thank you for your awesome videos, wish you had more,,, where do you buy the mason stains? And, do you only use porcelain when adding these colours?

  7. Would you explain how to make different color bricks if we back them on 1050 celcius in chimney. Eg: red brciks or yellow bricks

  8. Have you ever used black iron oxide to a clay body? How does that turn out? If I clear glaze after using manganese dioxide as body stain, would it be food safe? I know you said toxic fumes while firing, but my kiln is outside so I think I would be ok, thoughts?

  9. Cool technique & great advisory info. Will try this for sure as it has to be cheaper than buying black clay.

  10. Thanks for this video! Are the mason pigments or raw materials as stains after bisque firing (using water as carrier)? Are they also used in glazes? Thanks 🙂

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