Ceramics Decal Transfers

There is a new trend of transferring a digitally printed ceramics decal onto a glazed pot. Transfers can be purchased from select suppliers and manufacturers or printed onto special paper using special toner.

I ran into an artist in Montana a few years ago who was putting digitally printed transfers on his hand thrown mugs. I was somewhat shocked as I have always been into the more rustic wood and gas fired pots.

However, his enthusiasm for the technology and the clean, crisp, graphic style with which he used the ceramics decal caught my attention. Now I am seeing this method used in more artistic and creative ways than I would have expected.

How Decal Transfers Are Made

In the past decals were manufactured using screen printing technology, which is expensive, laborious, and requires large equipment.

Using new technology, ceramic colors can be combined with other materials, such as resin and/or flux, to create toner that will work effectively in a commercial printer cartridge.

This breakthrough makes it possible to print decals quicker, in smaller batches, and much more economically.

Reference: http://www.ceramicindustry.com/Articles/Feature_Article/b498d2cb11ac7010VgnVCM100000f932a8c0____

How Decals Are Used

Ceramics decals are available at most pottery supply stores. However, if you want to customize your designs to fit the style of your pottery you'll have to order the decals from an established manufacturer. Several online companies specialize in creating small runs of custom digital decals.

Once you receive your decal, applying it is fairly simple. Decal application may vary depending on the manufactured, but this is the general process.

  • First, bisque, glaze, and fire your pot.
  • Second, soak your decal in warm water until the paper backing is loosened from the decal.
  • Third, wet your glazed pot and gently apply the decal to the surface. Move it into place and carefully work out any air bubbles using a sponge.
  • Fourth, allow your pot to dry and fire it to the manufacturers recommended temperature.
  • Fifth, and finally, experiment with different decal designs on your work.
We'll see where this trend goes as technology continues to move forward.

Until then, Happy Potting.

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