Printing Your Own Laser Ceramic Decals

04_10_decal

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: https://www.etsy.com/shop/stanleychesteralbert. 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.

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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.

Glazes:

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

Tiles = Deb’s Clear (cone 04).

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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.

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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_decal

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:

http://lindaarbuckle.com/handouts/laser-decals-for-ceramics.pdf

http://rothshank.com/justins-work/decal-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.

BOOKS

*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

ARTICLES

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!

CASTING

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%
 
THROWING
 
Porcelain (throwing, handbuilding, non-translucent, plastic)
Grolleg 55
Custer 18
Flint 16
EPK 9
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
EPK 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

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

SCULPTURE

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.