Museum Craft Corner: Design your own porcelain plate

August 31, 2012

Crafts, Germany

So, for while I’ve been thinking about starting a new regular blog feature to share some of the great craft ideas that happen at museums in workshops or at events, that would easily be fun to recreate at home. And after taking part in a super fun workshop at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Museum of Asian Art) during the Lange Nacht der Museen on Monday, here it is, the first edition of Museum Craft Corner!

Design your own porcelain plate

The Museum für Asiatische Kunst is currently showing an exhibition called ‘China and Prussia. Porcelain and Tea’. So, to go alongside this, they were offering a drop in workshop for children and adults where you could design your own plate. The workshop leader had prepared some templates that you could copy – and at the same time learn about e.g. the symbolic meaning of bats in porcelain designs, or why Chinese dragons sometimes have three, four or even five claws – or you could draw your own design from scratch. For this you were given a paper template with the same dimensions as your plate, where you practice your drawing skills in pencil first.

Then comes the slightly scary bit – drawing your design on to your plate. No mistakes allowed here (though if you’re quick you can wipe off any smudges before the paint starts drying, so I’d advise maybe keeping some wet wipes to hand). Make sure your plate is dust and grease free before you start.

The paints they used in the workshop were porcelain painter pens from Marabu. They don’t require baking in an oven to fix the paint, you just leave them to dry for a minimum of three days. After that they are completely safe to eat off, and they’re also dishwasher safe up to 50°C. The workshop leader wasn’t sure how easy the paint is to get out of clothes, so if you’re doing this activity with kids you might want them to wear an apron as a safety precaution, though they are water based. The pens come with different kinds of nibs, namely normal, fineliner, brush and calligraphy, and in a large variety of colours. Though in the workshop we used mainly blue, as a reflection of blue and white China porcelain, with red, yellow, green and gold to embellish. But no black, because apparently you don’t find black in porcelain. That was probably the most asked question by the kids while I was there painting my plate – “Why is there no black?”. So, if you’ve always been out off by the thought of porcelain painting because you thought it was too difficult or involved a lot of hassle to fix the paints etc, why not invest in a set of these painter pens, grab yourself some cheap white China plates from a bargain household store, and have yourself a little crafty afternoon.

By the way, this was my final design. As I’ve said before, drawing is not really my strong point, and you won’t believe the number of attempts it took me beforehand on paper to get the face just looking right. Minimalist, I know, but it was actually inspired by those face plates you can get for children, where you use food to give the face hair, a beard etc. I suddenly remembered the idea while I was sitting there lost for inspiration, and thought I’d make my own version for #MuseumBaby :-)

If you have a craft idea you would like to introduce in Museum Craft Cornerplease get in touch (whether you work in a museum and have a workshop idea you’d like to share, or whether it’s an idea you picked up whilst visiting a museum yourself).


Please note that although I work for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, to which the Museum für Asiatische Kunst belongs, I was in no way involved with this workshop, the exhibition or the Lange Nacht der Museen. I also have no affiliation to Marabu. I just really liked the idea and wanted to pass it on. (Image source pens: Marabu)



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2 Responses to “Museum Craft Corner: Design your own porcelain plate”

  1. Rebecca Lawrence Says:

    Hallo Jenni! I stumbled onto this post from your site today and I thought I’d share Facebook photos from our painted glass activity at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center (I’m the Museum Educator). We used non toxic food safe and dishwasher safe pens and paint manufactured by Pebeo, the Porcelaine line. It was so much fun! We looked and discussed hand painted glass and ceramics in our collection, came back to the classroom, and made our own.



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