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How To Use or Fire Pottery Decals

Low-fire images for transferring on to pottery 


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How to achieve great results using Decals.

Decals are also known as pottery transfers.

They can be used as a low-fire decorating technique to enhance pottery designs or shapes. The transfers are applied post glazing (e.g. on top of fired glaze) or between glass layers. Decals are mostly used on pottery earthenware ceramics stoneware china etc but they are also applied to glass – either between layers or on top. Enamellers can use decals on copper blanks for enamelled projects.

Instructions For Applying Waterslide Pottery Decals:

You will need a bowl of warm water, scissors, sponge, soft cloth or paper towel.

  1. Ensure the glazed ware item is clean.
  2. Remove protective top film on decal
  3. Cut decal to desired shape or size 
  4. Soak decal in warm water until the transfer film starts to uncurl or "relaxes".  Ensure that the backing paper does not slide off as the adhesive gum (used to stick the decal to the surface of the ware prior to firing) will become less efficient. 
  5. Remove the decal from the water and allow to rest for a few moments.  If the decal slides around on the backing paper then it is ready to transfer.
  6. Work quickly to place the decal in position on the glazed ware piece.  Simply slide the decal off the backing paper onto the glazed ware piece. 
  7. Using a finger on the edge of the decal, hold the decal in place.  Gently remove excess water and bubbles from under the decal using the sponge - work from the centre outwards.
  8. Use the cloth/paper towel to remove surface water.
  9. Allow to dry for 4 to 8 hours before firing. 
  10. Fire item at 100°c-150°c per hour up to a top temperature of about 770°c.

We think decals looks great with our other on-glaze products like gold and silver which can be fired at the same time as the decal.

Decals of Photographs or Custom-Made Artwork

If you want a unique decal made from a photograph or your own artwork, we recommend a company called Digital Ceramics.  This company offers a bureau style printing service for the ceramic industry and hobbyists. Digital Ceramics can print your files directly from a disk or documents can be emailed to their high-speed ADSL connection.  Digital printed pottery decals/transfers offer all advantages of conventional screen-printed transfers with the added advantages of good resolution 400dpi-600dpi and decals up to A3+ size (either one off's or short runs).

Orton Ceramics have produced a PDF document outlining how to get professional results using Decals CLICK HERE to open.