Underglaze Pencils


Amaco Underglaze Chalk Crayons and Pencils available in an assortment of colors for firing up to cone 10.

Orton Hi Temp Brown Marker, a cheaper pencil for marking ceramics like test tiles.

Make your own pencils

There are a few recipes for creating your own underglaze pencils. The most common recipe seems to be:

  • White firing ball clay 50%
  • Potash feldspar 25%
  • Silica 25%
  • Various amount of colorant from 10-30%

australianceramics Recipe

Instagram Link


  • Ball Clay 50
  • Potash Feldspar 25
  • Silica 200# 25
  • 10-30% colourant

+Add 35-45% water to this slip base
+For every 100g of dry ingredient add 1tsp sodium silicate
+If using a high percentage of colourant e.g30% add 5% bentonite to increase plasticity
+Dry on plaster bats and roll and shape your pencils.
+Fire to 800C


Can EPK substitute for Ball clay?
Mike Mangion: most likely, but it maybe a little softer.

Donna Kat: saturate it with water, stirring well; put it on a plaster bat or just let it evaporate in the bucket until it is wedge-able; take a golf ball or walnut size ball and roll it out to a pencil type shape. Bisque fire. You don’t want it too long or it will break. You want a soft bisque.

Donna Kat: I also think you can use balls of it as greenware to draw with as you would chalk.

Megan Baker: +Add 35-45% water to this slip base
+For every 100g of dry ingredient add 1tsp sodium silicate
+If using a high percentage of colourant e.g30% add 5% bentonite to increase plasticity
+Dry on plaster bats and roll and shape your pencils.
+Fire to 800C

David Zimbrón Recipe

Forwarded by Carmen de la Parra

I want to make crayons for ceramics, I have the formula for my master David Zimbrón.
I’d like if someone has more formulas either crayons, pencils or watercolors to do a lot of tests at once.
I share what I have.
To make cakes (not bake)
You can use both raw and sancocho.


  • Ceramic Plaster. 40 %
  • Clay Balls. 40 %
  • Kaolin Kaolin. 10 %
  • Quartz. 10 %
  • Colouring Agent 10 to 40 %
  • Liquid 30 g per 100 g
  • Sodium Silicate 30 g per 100 G (already prepared)

Mix and make bars of the thick and long desired (better with hand extruder)

Drawn to Surface: How to Make and Use Underglaze Pencils, Crayons, Pens, and Trailers

Ceramic Arts Daily

Ceramic Pencil Slip Recipe

  • White firing ball clay 50%
  • Potash feldspar 25
  • Silica 25
  • 100%
  • Add: Macaloid (or 5% bentonite) 3%
  • Colorant (maximum) 15%

The materials, including colorants, should be dry sieved through an 80-mesh screen to ensure thorough blending. For color, you can use mineral oxides, carbonates, and prepared stains. A variety of combinations will produce a wide range of colors, although it’s important to select colorants that won’t burn out at high temperatures; not many will, but cadmium/selenium and potassium dichromate are likely to do so. The amount of colorant can be up
to 15 percent. More than that will cause loss of plasticity in the raw state, making it difficult to form the pencils. The more colorant used, the more intense the color.

Mix the dry materials with approximately 45 percent water, to which 1 percent of sodium silicate per 100 grams of dry material mix has been added. This will slightly deflocculate the slip, giving additional green strength while also intensifying some of the colorants.

Form the pencils by drying the colored slip to a plastic state, and then either rolling out coils or extruding lengths of the desired thickness. These then can be left as pencil lengths or cut into shorter 1–2 inch lengths. When dry, fire the pencils to between 1472°F (800°C) and 1742°F (950°C), depending on the desired hardness. A lower firing will produce softer “lead”; higher firing, harder “lead”. The short lengths can be placed in a claw grip drafting pencil (the Koh-I-Noor No. 48 drafting pencil can hold leads up to ¼ inch in diameter).

Pastels normally are used from the greenware state and are not prefired unless they prove too friable for convenient use. To make pastels, use the basic recipe above and simply form the clay into coils or extrusions
to the desired size for use. If they prove too fragile, they can be fired to between 1112°F (600°C) and 1472°F
(800°C) without making them excessively hard. Ceramic pastel drawings should be fired on the ceramic object
to harden them before a glaze is applied; otherwise, the powdery surface likely will be spoiled in glaze application
or handling. Surface powder also might cause crawling through lack of glaze adhesion.

From Clayart

Terrance Lazaroff:

Robin Hoppers Book The Ceramic Spectrum, has a recipe on page 133.

it calls for:

50 units of white ball clay
25 units of potash feldspar and
25 units of silica.

to this add 5% bentonite or 3% Macaloid and up to 15% colourant.

One can also add to the approximately 45% water, a little sodium silicate to
give it green strength.

Roll into thin coils and fire to approx 800 degrees C.

I use them in the green ware state. They work like pastels. I find they
are only good for light drawings and lines.


Jane Murray-Smith:

Hi Dale,

Heres the recipe Ive used ( weights are in grams):
Custer …25
ball clay…50
colorant…15 (maximum)
sodium silacate 1cc per 100 grams dry mix

fire between 1500-1700 degrees for pencils

For chalk, watercolor cakes or crayons do not fire .
No sodium silicate for crayons BUT mix dry ingred. with wax resist & form.

Remember: TEST, TEST, TEST!!! I got this recipe from a book Im sorry I dont remember the title of the book or who wrote it but, Ive made the pencils & they worked great for me. Havent tried the water colors, crayons or chalk.