It’s time for another trip down the rabbit hole. I have been dabbling in ceramic surface design on and off for a number of years. You can see some examples here and here. I have been interested in screen printing on ceramic clay. (I got started with screen printing with polymer clay, and wrote a couple of articles on how to burn your own screens for Polymer Cafe Magazine, now out of print.)
I am still interested in screen printing on ceramic clay and have read a lot of articles on the subject. There is a lot more information available now than when I first started. A lot of the early articles threw around terminology without clear explanations. (One that especially galled me was referring to the screen printing medium used on pottery as “ink” without an explanation of the composition of this so-called ink. Not helpful by any stretch of the imagination.)
My current fascination is ceramic decals. As usual, I am more interested in making my own decals than in buying someone else’s designs. The technique basically involves putting a design on newsprint or rice paper with underglaze or another substance that will withstand firing, and transferring it to a pot. There are different types of decals and many ways of making them. I wanted something that was low tech, that could withstand a cone 04 firing, and that used readily available relatively inexpensive materials.
I discovered a video and a tutorial by potter and teacher Kate Missett. They were just what I am looking for! She gives clear, concise directions and doesn’t leave out information that might be useful (like what side of the rice paper to use.)
You can see my first efforts in the pictures below. First, I mixed up some red and black “ceramic ink” for which Missett actually gives the formula, and tried the technique out on newsprint.
Here’s a bare, leather hard pot, the decal (the colors will appear in reverse order on the pot) and the decal applied to the pot.
Here’s the pot after I removed the decal. I decided to put another design on the pot which didn’t transfer so well, but I was able to touch it up. As is usual for me, my first efforts turned out better than my later attempts. I have a long way to go, but I am already enjoying this technique very much!