How to Paint Ceramic Vases

Updated February 21, 2017

While potters typically use glaze for functional ceramic objects, you can also paint decorative bisque pieces--fired, unglazed pottery--with acrylic paints. Glazes necessitate the high heat of a kiln to fire into a permanent coating, but acrylic painting does not require any special equipment. Although you can use any acrylic paint, some paint manufacturers make craft versions specifically designed for ceramic surfaces. Because acrylic paint will not seal pottery like glaze, painted vases are best as works of art. Alternatively, you can place a smaller plastic or glass container inside your vase to hold water for flowers.

Wipe your ceramic vase with a damp sponge to remove dust. Allow the vase to dry completely.

Mix acrylic paints on a palette. Do not mix more paint than you will use right away because acrylic paint dries quickly.

Apply the acrylic paint with paint brushes. Use larger brushes for the background and smaller brushes for lettering and details.

Store brushes in a container of water when you are not using them. Clean the brushes at the end of your work session with soap and water.

Follow the paint manufacturer's directions for setting the acrylic paint. Some craft paint hardens on its own while others require baking in the oven.

Apply a layer of acrylic varnish with a paint brush to seal your vase. Choose a glossy varnish if you want your vase to have a shiny finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Ceramic bisque vase
  • Sponge
  • Acrylic paint for ceramics
  • Palette
  • Paint brushes
  • Water container
  • Oven (optional)
  • Acrylic varnish
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About the Author

Fiona Fearey has an undergraduate degree from Temple University and a master's degree from New York University. She has been a freelance writer and editor for over five years. She has written for Pluck on Demand and various other websites. Other professional experience includes education, the arts and decorative painting.