China painters focus on beauty, color, detail

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When many people think of china painting, they think of little old ladies painting flowers on teacups.

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Carol Elliott paints a piece of china during a meeting of the Georgialina Porcelain Artists. After painting, the piece is fired in a kiln. Repeated paintings and firings are required to give depth to the painting.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Carol Elliott paints a piece of china during a meeting of the Georgialina Porcelain Artists. After painting, the piece is fired in a kiln. Repeated paintings and firings are required to give depth to the painting.

“We’re not just about tiny little flowers and teacups,” said Carol Craig, who teaches classes twice a week at her North Augusta home to members of the GeorgiaLina Porcelain Artists.

Friday, under Craig’s direction, six women painted koi on porcelain chocolate boxes as they sat around Craig’s dining room table.

Various painted china pieces were scattered around her dining room, such as vases with landscapes painted on them, portraits painted onto porcelain squares, and coasters with everything from butterflies to flowers.

The women are also members of the World Organization of China Painters and the Georgia World Organization of China Painters, which is gearing up for a multistate convention at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center this weekend.

“This is the first one we’ve had (in Augusta) since 2005,” said Cheryl Wiggins, president of the GWOCP.

The convention is open to all. Anyone who is interested in learning how to paint porcelain is invited to attend workshops that will be held Thursday morning.

The convention will also feature a show and sale and painting demonstrations.

“Anybody can come. You don’t have to be a china painter,” Wiggins said.

China painting requires a lot of patience. A special paint that looks like a dry powder is mixed with mineral oil into a translucent paint. Designs are painted onto the piece, which is fired in a kiln. This melts the paint into the porcelain.

“So when we paint we have to have repeated paintings and firings to get any kind of depth of color,” Wiggins said.

Once the piece is finished, the designs are so durable that the piece can be run through the dishwasher without damaging the designs, unless they include gold. The gold can be damaged, Craig said.

Craig, who has been painting china for 40 years, said she started Georgialina Porcelain Painters in 1991, when she was president of the GWOCP, in order to have a convention in Augusta.

There are 26 members in the local group who reside on both sides of the river, but they’re hoping to attract more members.

“Everybody’s getting older and that’s our biggest problem with the WOCP and the GWOCP,” Wiggins said. “We’ve really been trying to reach out and attract younger artists.”

Craig learned to paint china when she was 24. She was living in Athens and went to a sidewalk art sale. She met a woman who painted porcelain and offered to show her how to do it. The rest, she said, is history.

“For me, china painting keeps my interest because there’s such a variety of objects to paint on,” she said. “Not only is it artful, but it’s useful and you can have it around you all the time. When you give it to someone, their face just lights up. It makes them happy.”

Wiggins said she also enjoys the camaraderie from getting together with other china painters during classes, at conventions and other seminars.

“You’ll go to convention and it might be ladies you see only once or twice a year. Everybody’s getting along so well,” she said. “Kind of like a sisterhood.”

IF YOU GO

2014 Georgia World Organization of China Painters Convention and show

WHEN: May 1-3; show hours 1-5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

WHERE: Augusta Mariott at the Convention Center, 2 10th St.

WHAT: Visitors can shop for items at the porcelain show and watch demonstrations throughout the convention. Workshops will be offered Thursday morning for anyone interested in learning to paint porcelain. Each workshop is $35 plus supplies.

MORE INFO: www.gwocp.com


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