Underglaze pencil is the bomb
Underglaze pencil is one of our most beloved tools. It is easy to use and lets you control the stroke with ease, even if you don’t have much experience with drawing. When you are just learning how to illustrate, you are more likely comfortable with a pencil than with a brush.
If a pencil has been your daily companion since childhood, making straight or wobbly or whichever lines on ceramics shouldn’t be a problem. Underglaze pencils work best on smooth surfaces, so the best option is to use them on bisqueware made from clay with no grog.
There is only one strict rule regarding underglaze pencils: they should never be dropped. They are not especially cheap (one costs around 10€), so we keep them safe from any harm. We handle them carefully and gently. We also like to put cheap rubber erasers on the top of them. This prevents them from rolling around on the desk, but it also helps with using really short pencils that are too short to handle well. You can also buy special holders for short pencils in art shops.
Nina’s drawing technique is to slowly swirl the pencil while drawing a line. It is hard to explain, but that way she manages to keep the pencil sharp for considerably longer. That way you get clearer lines, less sharpening, less stress on the pencil’s core and longer use.
We use huge mechanic sharpener for our pencils. We like it’s huge waste bin and consistent sharpening. Smaller sharpeners are fine, but they loose their sharpness eventually and you get more and more broken pencil points. Underglaze pencils come in different colors, but only one hardness. Even so, you can use them for shading and other advanced techniques just like lead pencils. The pigment is quite strong, so we can cover the pencil lines with underglazes and they are still clearly visible after firing. Just remember that you are already working with glazes and pigments at this point, so stay safe and avoid touching your face or blowing the dust away.