Printing Your Own Laser Ceramic Decals


Recently one of my good friends, Bethany, has been helping me figure out how to make, apply, and fire decals to my ceramics. She’s been using this process for a long time and has been very helpful and patient as I pester her. Check out (and buy!) her work here: Thank you, Bethany!

The neat thing about this process is being able to print any black and white image you want (as long as you own the rights to it or it is in the public domain, of course). So, it would be easy to customize a mug, say, with a person’s photo or name or maybe even a phrase they are known for saying. Mine might read: “Where are you and what are you doing?” I like to open emails that way. Anyway, the photos I used as decals above are some I took on my phone and manipulated using Photoshop. The heart on the cup is a string of text I made on one of the other Adobe programs.

Last week, someone posted on a ceramics message board questions very similar to ones I had when first starting this process. I’ve decided to compile what I’ve learned so far into this post. Maybe it can help you. Links to a couple of other good resources are listed at the bottom of the post.


What I am using for this process

Printer: HP 1022. I bought mine used on Amazon. Bethany finds hers on Craigslist.

Laser cartridge: 12A (Brand new – there are questions about new vs. old cartridges on forums with some saying new ones don’t work. Mine is working fine.)

Paper: Laser waterslide paper, white backing, clear film. I’ll list my firing program below. As always, TEST TEST TEST. Just because this works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you, your clay/glazes, kiln, etc. Tinkering might be necessary.


Porcelain cup = Shaner’s Clear with colorants (cone 10).

Tiles = Deb’s Clear (cone 04).


Firing cycle (all in Fahrenheit, * denotes degrees):

Apply decals to a clean, already glaze-fired surface. Smooth out all bubbles. Dry at least 24 hours.

5 segments–

1) 200*/220* HOLD 20 minutes [lid cracked 1/2 inch, peeps out]

2) 100*/500* HOLD 15 minutes

[somewhere in the 600* range, close lid]

3) 180*/1000* NO HOLD

[somewhere in the 900-1200* range, put peeps in]

4) 125*/1200* NO HOLD

5) [for earthenware] 200*/1770* HOLD 15 minutes 

OR, 5) [for high fired ware] 200*/1945* HOLD 15 minutes

Approximately 11-12 hour cycle. Very stinky around 400 degrees. Vent if possible, or vacate the area during the firing. TEST TEST TEST.


Here is my first decal test page, and one of the original photos. You’ll notice that though the decals print jet black, they fire brown. That is because you are burning out basically everything in the decal/toner except the iron oxide, which ends up being brown. To make the decals permanent, you need to apply them to a glazed surface. If you fire to the right temp for your particular glazes (this might be different than mine), the iron will sink into the glaze and become permanent. Cram as much as you can onto the page – you only need enough room to cut around them, and the paper isn’t cheap!


Laser decals on a porcelain cup and earthenware tiles. Ghosting on the tiles is from firing an original layer of decals to cone 04 (same temperature as the glaze maturation) and then refiring to cone 08 with a new decal in an offset position.


More resources:


Texts on Porcelain and Bone China

Here’s a list of books on porcelain and bone china (topics are both how to use the materials as well as their histories). I’ve tried not to include any “collector’s guides.” Happy reading! My favorites are *ed. Let me know if you have a title I should add.


*The Arcanum, Janet Gleeson

*Porcelain and Bone China, Sasha Wardell

The Complete Potter: Porcelain, Caroline Whyman

Contemporary Studio Porcelain, Peter Lane

Masters: Porcelain: Major Works by Leading Ceramists, Suzanne JE Tourtillot

Chinese Ceramics: From the Paleolithic Period through the Qing Dynasty, Barnes and Pengbo, et al.

Clay, Light, and Water, Margaret O’Rorke

Porcelain (Ceramics Handbooks), Jack Doherty

Porcelain Stories: From China to Europe, Emerson, Chen, and Gates

The Story of Imari: The Symbols and Mysteries of Antique Japanese Porcelain, Goro Shimura

*A Cup of Light, Nicole Mones

The Worship of Kiln Gods: From the Temples of China to the Studios of Western Potters, Martie Geiger Ho


Coming later…

Recipes for Porcelain Clay Bodies

Here are a few recipes for porcelain clay bodies (casting, throwing, and sculpture).  Test them before you use them!


Cone 10
NDSU’s porcelain casting slip:
EPK 46
Silica 34.2
Custer 19.8
*deflocculate with a combination of sodium silicate, Darvan #7, and soda ashCone 6-10
Kitty’s porcelain casting slip:
Kaolin 42
Custer 36
Silica 22
Water 34
*Darvan #7 to deflocculateCone 8-9
Porcelain casting body
Flint 20
Feldspar 36
Kaolin 30
Ball clay 14Cone 6-8
White/Off White Porcelain casting body
Bone ash 35.7
Kaolin 29.3
Silica 21
Potash 14
Sodium carbonate 0.3%
Notes: shrinkage 12.5%Cone 6-9
Porcelain casting body
Soda feldspar 44
Georgia kaolin 33
Silica 18
Whiting 5
Sodium carbonate 0.4%
Notes: shrinkage 10%
Porcelain (throwing, handbuilding, non-translucent, plastic)
Grolleg 55
Custer 18
Flint 16
Pyrax 2
Bentonite 2
Molochite, 200 mesh or finer, 3 

Reeve’s Porcelain (throwing, translucent)
Grolleg 40
Custer 34
Flint 26
Macaloid 4
*I haven’t used this in a while, but I seem to remember its being very short.


Alfred’s Porcelain (throwing, translucent)
Grolleg 50
Kona F-4 30
Flint 20


Cone 9
Porcelain body
Grolleg 50
Potash feldspar 25
Flint 25


Cone 9-10
Porcelain body
Potash 27
Grolleg 45
Bentonite 6
Flint 26


Cone 9 (Tom Turner)
6 Tile 75
Kaopaque-20 38
Kona F-4 60
Silica (200 mesh) 60
OM4 12
V gum T 4
Ceramictalc 10AC 4


Cone 8-12
Porcelain body
Ball clay 27
Kaolin 27
Potash 27
Flint 19


Cone 10-15
Porcelain body
Ball clay 25
Kaolin 25
Potash 25
Flint 25


Cone 6
White-gray porcelain throwing body
Georgia kaolin 40
Potash 25
OM4 10
Tenn #1 6.5
Silica 13.5
Bentonite 2
Notes: shrinkage 14%


Cone 8-11
White-gray porcelain throwing body
EPK 40
Potash 25
Silica 25
OM4 7
Bentonite 3
Notes: shrinkage 15%

Cone 10
White/Off-white porcelain throwing body
Kaolin 30
OM4 14.5
Tenn #1 12.5
Potash 20.5
Silica 20
Bentonite 2.5


Bone China (unknown firing temperature)
Grolleg 30
Cornwall Stone 20
Bone Ash 40
Flint 10
Macaloid 2
*This is extremely short.


Cone 6-8
White/Off white porcelain sculpture body
OM4 32
Tenn #5 32
Fine white grog 12
EPK 11
Fine white sand 8.2
Potash feldspar 2.4
Silica 2.4
Notes: shrinkage 13.5%

Cone 9-10
White/gray porcelain sculpture body
Kaolin 21
Silica 23
Tenn #5 18
Potash feldspar 18
White grog (60-80 mesh) 10
Fine silica sand 10
Notes: shrinkage 11.5%


These recipes are provided in faith that those who try them will perform proper tests before usage. The author of this blog is not responsible in any way for failed clay bodies, glazes, slips, or anything else, regardless of where fault may lie. Sources for recipes include Glenn C. Nelson and James Chappell.

My Favorite Glaze Recipes for Porcelain Clay Bodies

Here are some of my favorite cone 10 glazes, collected over the past several years and condensed here for you. Test them before you use them.

Shaner Clear – Reduction or Oxidation

Kona F-4   120
Whiting   64
Dolomite   20
EPK   56
Flint   120
Zinc   20
(yes, I realize this does not add up to 100 – I still like it!)

Meloy White (I like this one in salt best; it blushes easily)

Dolomite   17.8
Whiting   3.2
Neph Sye   16.2
Custer   37.9
EPK   24.9

Yellow Salt

Neph Sye   63.9
Dolomite   21.1
Zircopax   16
OM4   4.3
Bentonite   0.4
Red Iron Oxide   1.0

Shaner Butter

Flint   26
Custer   36
Whiting   8
EPK   5
Gerst. Borate   13
Zinc Ox.   5
Talc   7
Rutile   2
Bentonite   2

Mark’s Sleet – Reduction

Custer   46
Whiting   34
EPK   20
VGum T   0.5%
Copper Carb.   2.0
Rutile   8.0

Haynes Satin – Reduction/Oxidation (mint green will go purple in reduction)

For white:
Whiting   8
Flint   30
Neph Sye   45
Talc   7
Dolomite 10
Bentonite 2
For mint green: 
add Copper Carb. 1.0%, fire in oxidation

1234 Celadon

EPK   10
Whiting   20
Flint   30
Custer   40
Yellow Ochre   2
Bentonite   2

These recipes are provided in faith that those who try them will perform proper tests before use. The author of this blog is not responsible in any way for failed clay bodies, glazes, slips, or anything else, regardless of where fault may lie.

Further Reading

Here’s a list of a few of the many, many sources that are out there on the topic of ceramics.  Let me know if you see something I should add, please.  Titles marked with * are personal favorites.


General Clay/”Classics”

Syllabus for Beginning Pottery Ball, F. Carlton
Syllabus for Advanced Ceramics Ball, F. Carlton
Finding One’s Way With Clay Berensohn, Paulus
The Ceramic Glaze Handbook: Materials Techniques Formulas Burleson, Mark
Shards Clark, Garth
Ceramic Formulas: the Complete Compendium; a guide to clay, glaze, enamel, glass, and their colors Conrad, John W.
Advanced Ceramic Manual: Technical Data for the Studio Potter Conrad, John W.
Studio Ceramics Today Cooper, Emmanuel, Ed.
Fundamentals of Clay Modeling Fiore, R.R.
The Potter’s Dictionary of Materials and Techniques Hamer, Frank and Janet
The Ceramic Spectrum; A Simplified Approach to Glaze and Color Development Hopper, Robin
Studio Ceramics Lane, Peter
A Potter’s Book Leach, Bernard
How to do Ceramics Lion, Heller H.
Ceramics: a Potter’s Handbook Nelson, Glenn C. and Burkett, Richard
Out of the Earth and Into the Fire Obstler, Mimi
Ceramics Rawson, Philip
Clay and Glazes for the Potter Rhodes, Daniel
Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person Richards, M.C.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Ceramics Savage, George and Newman, Harold
*Hands in Clay Speight, Charlotte F. and Toki, John
Make it in Clay: a beginner’s guide to ceramics Speight, Charlotte F. and Toki, John
Basic Ceramics Steinzor, Benjamin
The Handbook for Clay Artists Trub, Alexandra B.


361 Full-Color Allover Patterns Grafton, Carol Belanger
Decorative Flower and Leaf Designs Hofmann, Richard
The Grammar of Ornament Jones, Owen
Painted Clay: Graphic Arts and the Ceramics Surface Scott, Paul
The Clay Canvas: Creative Painting on Functional Ceramics Wittig, Irene

Electric Kilns/Firing

Exploring Electric Kiln Techniques American Ceramic Society, pubs.
Electric Kiln Construction for Potters Fournier, Robert
Electric Kiln Ceramics Riegger, Hal
Electric Kiln Ceramics, a guide to clay and glazes Zakin, Richard


Alternative Kilns Gregory, Ian
Kiln Building Gregory, Ian
The Kiln Book: Materials, Specifications, and Construction Olsen, Frederick L.
Kilns: Design, Construction, and Operation Rhodes, Daniel
Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques Watkins, James C. and Wandless, Paul Andrew

Glazing & Firing Techniques

Barrel, Pit, and Saggar Firing American Ceramic Society, pubs.
Woodfiring: Journeys and Techniques American Ceramic Society, pubs.
Underglaze Decoration Bellaire, Marc
Crystalline Glazes Creber, Diane
Stoneware Glazes: a systematic approach Currie, Ian
China Painting Workstation Davies, Hannah
Sawdust Firing Hessenberg, Karin
The Techniques of China Painting Jorgensen, Gunhild
The Art of Firing Lou, Nils
A Potter’s Guide to Raw Glazing and Oil Firing Parks, Dennis
Gas Kiln Firing Ritchie, Ralph W.
Ash Glazes Rogers, Phil
Single Firing: the Pros and Cons Tristram, Fran
Soda Glazing Tudball, Ruthanne


European Porcelain Bacci, Mina
The Book of Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I Cox, Warren E.
Chinese Porcelain du Boulay, Anthony
American Porcelain: New Expressions in an Ancient Art Herman, Llyod E.
New Orleans Porcelain Knapp Press
Contemporary Studio Porcelain Lane, Peter
Revolutionary Ceramics: Soviet Porcelain 1917-1927 Lobanov-Rostovsky, Nina


Raku: A Practical Approach Branfman, Steve
Raku Pottery: a 400-Year Old Technique Adapted for the Contemporary Potter Piepenburg, Robert

How-to (Ceramic Related)

Paper Clay Gault, Rosette
Architectural Ceramics for the Studio Potter: designing, building, installing King, Peter
*The Essential Guide to Mold Making and Slip Casting Martin, Andrew
Keeping Clay Work Safe and Legal Rossol, Monona
Large-Scale Ceramics Robison, Jim
Handbuilt Tableware Triplett, Kathy

Pottery (all sorts!)

Answers to Potters’ Questions II Butler, Ruth C., Ed.
Using the Potter’s Wheel Campbell, Donald
Potter’s Wheel Projects Ceramics Monthly handbook
Creative Pottery: A Step-by-Step Guide and Showcase Coakes, Michelle
The Potter’s Project Book Cosentino, Peter
Pottery Workshop Counts, Charles
The Potter’s Alternative Davis, Harry
The Best of Pottery Fairbanks, Jonathan, and Fina, Angela
Pottery in the Making: Ceramic Traditions Freestone, Ian, and Gaimster, David, Eds.
Pottery Haslam, Malcolm
The Complete Book of Pottery Making Kenny, John B.
American Art Pottery from the collection of Everson Museum of Art Perry, Barbara A.
Pottery: a basic manual Pucci, Cora
Pottery Form Rhodes, Daniel
Throwing on the Potter’s Wheel Sellers, Thomas
How to Make Pottery & Other Ceramic Ware Turoff, Muriel P.
Pottery Step by Step Trevor, Henry
Intro to Pottery: a Step by Step Project Book Wallner, Linde
The Practical Potter: a Step-by-Step Handbook Warshaw, Josie
Pottery on the Wheel Woody, Elsbeth S.

How-to (art related, but not specific to ceramics)

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity Cameron, Julia
Better Resumes for Sales and Marketing Personnel Lewis, Adele
Confrontational Clay: The Artist as Social Critic Schwartz, Judith S.
Criticizing Art: understanding the contemporary Barrett, Terry
The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms Diamond, David, Ed.
The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste Stern, Jane and Michael
*How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist Michels, Caroll
Money for Visual Artists Oxenhorn, Douglas
Performance Studies: the interpretation of aesthetic texts Pelias, Ronald
Photographing Your Artwork Hart, Russell
The Adams Resume Almanac Adams, Robert, Ed.
A Short Guide to Writing about Art Barnet, Sylvan
Stayin’ Alive: Survival Tactics for the Visual Artist Hopper, Robin
A Whack on the Side of the Head: How you can be more creative van Oech, Roger



*Ceramic Review (UK)

Ceramics Monthly (USA)

Ceramics Technical (Australia)

Ceramics Art & Perception (Australia)

Pottery Making Illustrated (USA)

Clay Times (USA)

American Ceramics Magazine (USA)

Journal of Turkish Ceramics Federation (Turkey)

New Ceramics (Germany)

Ceramics Today (UK)

National Ceramics Quarterly (South Africa)

Ceramics Ireland (Ireland)

Ceramics Now Magazine (Romania)

*Sculpture (USA)

Studio Potter (USA)

Ceramics in America (USA)



Organizations/Artist resources

*Alliance of Artist Communities


National Arts Marketing Project

Art Axis

National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts

*accessCeramics (a contemporary ceramics image resource)

Random helpful stuff

Temperature Equivalent Chart for Orton Cones (in Fahrenheit)