Monday, February 22, 2010

The Potter's Exchange Decal Workshop

Here are some photos from yesterday's Decal workshop. It was pretty neat! I already had some knowledge of ceramic decals. I went to a printing on clay workshop around 5 years ago... This was a good refresher, and this time I got to take home a sample instead of just watching someone else go through the process. ... and since I'm a pesky student, I took home my sample to fire myself instead of leaving it with the host to fire for me.

Giselle was our wonderful hostess, and this is an example of her work with decals. This piece was very interesting to me, because the decal ink is still black in color after firing instead of a brown sepia color. I wonder Why? Decal work needs to be fired three times. I wonder if it is because she fires her decal work at a much lower temperature, some of the black ink does not burn out. ?? I don't know for sure. Some of her work does have the brown sepia iron oxide finished effect that is in a lot of decal ceramics.

Here Bianka is test fitting a decal to a piece of pottery. I don't know if you can see it, but Bianka's mug bubbles out at the bottom. That bubble caused her troubles when it was time to apply the decal. That paper is the decal. It is cut to more easily fit to the finished ceramic mug.
Here Linda is applying a decal to a plain white tile. She is applying "backwards" because she had lettering on her design. Decals are really pretty simple to apply. They go on in much the same way as children's fake tattoos. There is a special decal paper printed with a black and white design, and that paper is soaked in warm water to separate the saran wrap-like film and design from the paper backing.
The Saran Wrap like printed film slides off the paper backing and onto the ceramic piece. The film can be slightly re-adjusted to place it on the ceramic for a few seconds until the film starts to dry out and can no longer be moved. The Decal paper is an interesting material. It is printed on a computer laser printer with your design. The decal paper is soaked slightly to apply it to the ceramic. Soaking the paper water makes a pliable film separate from a paper backing.

The fern on this plate is a scan of an actual leaf placed on top of the computer scanner. It was a really nice effect. Giselle's work had a lot of Japanese maple leaves, ferns and maple leaves scanned into the computer from nature. Using different copies of real leaves gave the designs nice variations.
This was my piece. A white stoneware with clear glaze. I am firing it right now. I am firing at a different temperature than Giselle uses for her work. I will be able to see if this firing temperature works or not when I open the kiln in the morning. The glaze may liquefy too much and blur the design. We'll see :-)


  1. thank you for sharing these pics. the process looks so easy but I am sure much of the work is in making the decal and firing at the right temp. I liked seeing the actual decals.

  2. I've been fascinated for sometime with decals on ceramics. I really appreciate you detailed description here. And all of your pics along the way are wonderful. Do show us your result. I would love to see it.

  3. I love the look of decals on ceramics! It sounds like a fun and fascinating process. Can't wait to see the results:) Are you planning on doing artwork yourself?

  4. I've always wondered about decals on ceramics, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities, thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks for sharing. I am nagging my professor to give me a demo on how to add decals to my throwen bowls and plates. You photos make it look like fun.

  6. How fascinating!

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