A group of local women is keeping an old art alive, and is looking to pass on their techniques to the community. The Central Missouri China Artists will be holding free china painting lessons for those interested in learning.

The classes are taught by long-time china painter Patsy Oliver, who learned the art - or more precisely, the craft, from her mother in law in 1975. Oliver would visit on Wednesdays to learn from her, eventually moving on to paint china in her own time.

“Since then, I thank her every day I get the china paint out,” Oliver said.

The techniques being passed on by the group involve paint being “fired” into porcelain by means of a special kiln. These paints come in vials of powder, according to Oliver, which is mixed with mineral oil until it reaches a consistency similar to toothpaste.

Several layers are applied to each piece, also accordign to Oliver. Each time a layer is added, the piece must be fired again, making the act of creating a piece quite a commitment. Similar to watercolor painting, any highlights or white coloring is created from sections of the porcelain being left clear, so pieces must be planned out carefully.

Participants in the class will focus on creating a monochrome piece, using a single color to create their painting. This will allow them to get comfortable using their plates and the process, according to the group.

Oliver and the rest of the painters are looking forward to teaching others how to create works of porcelain art, and passing on the techniques they’ve been practicing for years.

“It’s becoming more rare,” said Oliver. “There are roughly 500 people in the state of Missouri that belong to the world organization of china painters here in Missouri, but we’re getting older.” Oliver said she would like to see members of the younger generation get involved.

The class will take place each Thursday between April 5 and May 10, from 9:00 a.m. to Noon at The Pentacostals of Rolla, located on 1390 S. Bishop. These lessons are free, according to the group, with the only expense being that of a small plate and brush. All other materials are provided.