Kailua Village Artists

Betty Gerstner

Betty Gerstner

Porcelain Artist


Betty has been a porcelain artist since the late 70's.  She offers classes in porcelain painting, twice a week, at her studio, located at her home in Captain Cook, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

In 2000, shortly after moving to Hawaii, Betty began studying watercolor with some of the better known watercolor masters on the Big Island.

Off and on, for many years, Betty has dabbled in silk painting. Because she is not fond of scarves and clothing in silk (too hot for Hawaii), she never pursued creations for sale in this medium. Then, in 2016, she started up silk painting again. This time, she mounted a few of her silk paintings on foam core board and matted them for sale.

Betty now divides her time between the mediums of porcelain, watercolor and silk painting.

The beautiful scenery, tropical atmosphere and wonderful people are an inspiration to Betty's artistic talents.  Her diverse subjects range from tropical birds, fish and honu (turtle) to the colorful flowers and points of interest of Hawaii.  She also paints pet portraits by commission.

Betty has been a member of the Kailua Village Artists Cooperative since 2007. Her art is displayed in the Kailua Village Artists Gallery in the Kona Marketplace and in Cliff Johns Gallery, Mango Court, in Kainaliu, Hawaii.

Porcelain painting, also known as china painting or overglaze painting, is an ancient art, a process that was developed hundreds of years ago.  Generally, the paint is applied in layers.  The painted piece is fired in a kiln at about 1400 degrees Fahrenheit between each application of paint.  Each paint application, followed by firing in the kiln, is referred to as a "Fire".  The paint is translucent, so colors from previous fires can be seen in subsequent applications of color.  For this reason, the porcelain painter should plan the light areas ahead of time, because once a color is fired in, it is well nigh impossible to remove.  Depending on the desired color density and subject, a finished piece may require anywhere from 5 to 12 fires.

In the last few years, Betty began creating her own porcelain pieces to paint in addition to buying already glazed pieces.  She either hand-builds a piece or casts the piece in a plaster mold.  In most instances, after a piece is cast, Betty changes the original design of the piece by cutting, applying hand-formed objects or changing the form in some manner.  Some pieces, such as an art bowl, Betty creates by dipping a natural fiber material (flannel, cotton, silk, et.) in slip (liquid clay) and forming a shape.  When the object is fired, the natural fiber fires out leaving the shape in the clay.  These techniques allow the creation of truly unique pieces.

After the piece is completed and dried it is fired in a kiln to about 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Next, an application of glaze (a glass-like material) is painted over the piece.  The piece is then fired in the kiln to about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.  After the glaze firing, the piece is painted with china paint or luster and fired to about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. (for luster) or 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. (for regular china paint) as many times between china paint applications as required to complete the piece.

Betty's art studio is at her home, on the Big Island, in the picturesque "up country" town of Captain Cook. She has a studio, downstairs, with a separate entrance, where she teaches classes in porcelain painting.

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