Printing Your Own Laser Ceramic Decals

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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!

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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/

Engagement Photos

It was chilly in Minnesota this weekend (although according to the Northerners it was “really nice”). I no longer consider myself a true northerner. As far as I’m concerned, Iowa is the South. It’s typically 20 degrees warmer there than in ND/MN in the winter. Pretty big difference.

Anywho. Kyle and I braved the elements to have our engagement pictures taken outdoors on Saturday, by one of my lovely and talented sisters, Jen. She did a great job and kept us (ok maybe mostly me – Kyle was a good sport but I think he thought we were a teeny bit crazy) laughing the whole time. Our shoot involved a couple of outfit changes. These took place in an abandoned farm outbuilding. I’m not sure what the building’s original purpose was, but I was grateful for the windbreak, rotten floors and all! Here are a few of my favorite pics Jen captured. Check out more of her work here.

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Wedding Dress Shopping

It’s supposed to be a super fun experience. All the shows on TV depict women in various states of rapture after they find “the one.”

I’m lucky I first went to I Do Two to search for my wedding dress. It lived up to all my expectations. Kelly, the owner, is fantastic. She was super patient and genuinely excited to hunt through her (enormous) stacks of dresses to find the perfect one for me. It’s not easy to help someone into wedding dresses! They’re heavy, unwieldy, and involve a lot of lacing, tightening, and peculiar petticoats, each specific to the style of dress.20160107_120209

I must have tried on 14 dresses at her store. I narrowed it down to two, and then came back every day all week to try on the finalists (my mom, sister, youngest niece, and I went there on a Monday). I purchased my dress that Friday. I love it!

It’s a way nicer dress than I’d ever have been able to afford at a regular store. I Do Two is a consignment shop. If, like me, you think that means you will be buying a used dress, you are mistaken! I think only two of the dresses I tried on had previously been worn. I didn’t know this was a “thing,” but apparently lots of ladies buy two dresses and then wait til right before the wedding to decide which one to wear. Those ladies must have a lot of extra money! At any rate, it works to your advantage. I bought a dress that had an original price of $800 for 400 bucks. It was quite a bit too big for me, so I’m having it altered, but I would have had to have any other dress altered as well.

Here are some of the dresses I tried on at Kelly’s shop. (Did I mention she’s wonderful?)

Looking at these today, I guess I should have put on some makeup and made an effort with my hair before going shopping. Ha!

Like I said before, I had a difficult time deciding between two dresses. Here’s the one I didn’t get. 0104161248

 

I really liked the scalloped edge at the bottom. It was hard to choose, but I’m super happy with the one I bought! (Thank you to my sister and mom for taking these pics and patiently watching me try on dresses all afternoon!)

I did go to David’s Bridal after I Do Two. I felt like I should, for some reason. A rite of passage? However, by the end of my session – or whatever it’s called – I was mad. The lady put me in dresses that were 6 sizes too big, despite having dresses on the racks in my size. I don’t know what she was thinking. She said, “Oh, I guess someone put this dress in the wrong spot on the rack.” I could see that happening once, but multiple times? It’s like she thought I was lying about the size I wear. She seemed truly surprised when I was swimming in all the dresses she first pulled.

Additionally, she was unkind to my 5 year-old niece, who was beyond excited to be there, scolding her for touching plastic-wrapped dresses and accidentally stepping on the train of one I was trying on. (I got to return the dirty look when she herself stepped on said train 3 minutes later.) This niece was busily kindergartening it up when we were in Kelly’s store; between stores, my dad picked her up from school and swapped her out for her 3 year-old sister, who was beyond bored by dress shopping by then.

The saleslady at DB was also condescending about the amount of money we wanted to spend, sweeping past a dress I saw on a mannequin and admired, “Oh… that’s a Vera.” Didn’t say anything else. I was left behind to figure out that meant it was much too expensive. She then refused to show me any similar dresses at lower price points. I have a hard time believing an A-line dress with lace doesn’t exist by someone less expensive than Vera Wang. But what do I know. We left before I had even finished trying on her second round of dresses.

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My 5 year-old niece with me in one of the few dresses that fit at David’s Bridal

On the way home, I told my mom, “I’m so glad we went to that consignment store first. That lady was so nice. If we had come here first -” and here my mom finished the sentence, “You would have been in tears.” Yup. Hit the nail on the head!

In all, if you’re shopping in Minnesota for a wedding gown, I highly recommend Kelly at I Do Two in Otsego. Her collection is enormous; I had a fantastic experience with her, and I can’t wait to wear my beautiful dress! I’ve never seen one like it before! Y’all can see it. On May 28. 🙂