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BetsyLu

How Many Ways Can We Think Of To Put Text On Ceramics?

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BetsyLu    1

Hi everyone! I'm brainstorming about different ways to add text to ceramic pieces. I'm making a set of gray plates and I want the text to be small (in the neighbourhood of 14-point), subtle, and food-safe. I also don't think I will glaze over top, I just want to leave the stoneware (^6) as is. I'd love to hear your suggestions!

 

Here's what I can think of so far: 

 

1. scratch the text into leather hard or dry greenware. Leave as is or fill in with underglaze or glaze. (I think I'd particularly like the look of a coat of glaze and then everything wiped off the top so the glaze just stayed in the words)

 

2. Ceramic decals, which I know next to nothing about. Are they food-safe or do you have to put glaze over top?

 

3. Meticulously placing alphabet pasta in place and pressing gently into the clay. It will burn out in the bisque fire. (I have tried this and it works great, but that's a LOT of sorting through alphabet pasta!)

 

4. buy some letter stamps and use those. (Again, perhaps too labor-intensive for a set of plates.) 

 

5. Paint words on with an underglaze or heavily pigmented glaze. (Are underglazes food safe, or do you have to put glaze over top?) 

 

 

 

Anything I missed? 

 

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Pugaboo    438

Underglaze transfers - print your words in reverse with b&w laser printer or make copies on a b&w copy machine like the library or post office have. Color in the words with underglaze, dry, soak apply to surface. You should put a clear craze over to be sure it's food safe.

 

Laser transfers - these are applied after your glaze firing. You bisque, glaze, glaze fire, apply the laser transfers fire again around bisque temps. I've seen them done of food items so should be safe. You buy the special paper then print with b&w laser printer cut out soak in water apply to glazed ware let dry and fire very simple and beautiful details I've used it with pen and ink sketches. Oh after firing they look sepia colored not black which gives a really nice tone.

 

Stencils - print, cut, lay on ware, paint with underglaze, glaze and fire

 

Handwrite on with underglaze pencils - this is good and gives more of an artistic flare especially if you have nice handwriting.

 

That's all I can think of right now to add to your other choices.

 

Terry

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jrgpots    231

Norm posted an article about tape casting. You could make a tape and use a cricket to make sticky letters. You could use the letters on the pottery or the tape with the letters as negative space. Check out his article in his post about "fundamentals of ceramics."

 

Jed

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Pres    896

If I have a series of words I am using, I will often make a stamp of the words fire it and then use. There is a technique of using the laser print as a decal. I don't have skill with the process, but have read about it. Don't forget the stamps that have a series of letters on wheels that allow you to set up words. Stenciling, and blowing through with an atomizer is a good effect and once you have a good stencil it will last a long time.

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AtomicAxe    19

Anything that is not a glaze would need to be glazed. i.e. underglazes, mason transfers, custom block printing inks, etc  some you fire a second time over a glaze (some laser transfers and decal work for example)  but pretty much if you need it to be food safe, glaze it.

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ChenowethArts    461

I am just now making my very first laser-jet decals...(now that I have finally gotten over the cost of the ink cartridge).  I understand that the decals need to go on top of glazed areas...that part I get.  I have two questions, semi-related:

  1. Can I apply the decal, let that dry, and then spray a light coat of clear on top and fire only once, or, do I need to do the decal, fire it, re-glaze it and re-fire it again?
  2. Most of my glazing is fired cone 10 reduction.  What kinds of problems might I encounter if I do step one (above) but then fire it to the minimum of the clear (cone 6 maybe?) in electric oxidation?

Good stuff in this topic. My two cents worth - I bought a letter set from www.4clay.com last year and really enjoy it.

 

Paul

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Natania    6

I bought a set of letter stamps for leather working. Not very expensive and handy to have. The print is about 14 pt. I think and the letters look nice and clean when pressed into the clay.

 

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Paul,

 

My understanding about laser-jet decals is that you'd fire your ware to ^10 first. Then apply your decals and re-fire in a much lower firing. If your're printing your own from an HP laser print or similar, I believe you'd want to fire to ^04 to set the decal. There would be no need to glaze overtop of the decal.

 

Justin Rothshank is a decal master and shares tons of information regarding printing and firing decals on his website. Check out: http://rothshank.com/justins-work/decal-resources/

 

---

 

BetsyLu,

 

Check out that link about info for decals. If you don't already have a laser printer the up-front investment may be a bit steep, but this would probably be the easiest/time saving/most consistent route.

 

I do a lot of slip transfers, which provide a similar look to decals but without the extra firing and with less materials cost. Transferring 14point text will mean some practice/trial and error to get the lettering to transfer without smudging, but it can produce great results.

 

Carving by hand seems like a LOT of work with a lot of potential for mistakes.

 

I have a thought about the pasta: Could you arrange the pasta on paper so you could transfer whole words or sentences at once? If you attached the pasta to paper with wheat paste I would imagine everyhting would just burn off. No doubt this is still a lot of work, but perhaps a help/time svaer.

 

Good luck!

 

Chris

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Pugaboo    438

I bought Justin Rothshanks DVD and it's really good it's all I needed to figure out how to do laser transfers. I don't know about cone 10 but this is what I understand and have figured out for me.

 

I use Little a Loafers Stoneware clay, bisque fire to ^04, use either Amaco or Coyote glazes and fire to ^6. The laser printer I have is an HP and it was only $100. The importance in your printer is it has to be ONLY black and white it can't print color at all or the ink formula is wrong. No matter what printer you buy the toner HAS to have a high iron content or it won't work. The transfer paper is about $1 a sheet, it gets cheaper the more you buy, I've only bought 25 sheets. The paper comes in a few different sizes depending on your printers capabilities. At that price I fill up every inch of the paper, having photoshop or other image editor helps a lot to control you image outcome. Keep your printer off until ready to print then turn it in and immediately print your sheet. If your printer is on and the heads are hot you run the chance of melting the paper to them... A very bad thing so don't do it. I always print my designs the day before I plan to use them, they can be printed much longer than that and stored just don't let them get wet or hot.

Using the transfers:

Make your ware, if it's really textured you transfer is going to mostly burn off so a smoother surface at least where you plan to put the transfer works best. There can be some curves and such just not a really textured surface. I bisque fire to ^04. I have found smoother less mottled appearing glazes work best though you can get some interesting looks with a mottled glaze kind of old and cruddy looking. A dark with also not work as you won't be able to see the transfer. Glaze you ware with your chosen glaze, I like Coyote White, though am looking for a satin white for non food items. I glaze fire to ^6. Once fired and cooled, of course! Get your transfers and a CLEAN, absolutely clean, tray of water, I use old darkroom trays. You don't want any clay dust or other particles floating in your water of they could make your transfer not adhere to your ware. Cut your image out of the paper, cut as close to the edge of your image as possible as sometimes the edges can remain visible otherwise. You will learn when and why to cut different images closely. Soak your transfer in the water until you can slide it around easily with your finger, do NOT remove it entirely from the paper or it will be really hard to handle. Take your prepared transfer and slide it off a bit on one side. Dampen your ware surface and slide the transfer off the paper onto the ware. You have some movability with it at this point to position the transfer. Once you have it where you want get a damp sponge and smooth it onto the surface make sure you get all the bubbles and wrinkles out anywhere there is a bubble or wrinkle will burn away in the kiln. I let my transfer dry overnight then fire it. I got lucky and my glaze soften pens enough at my bisque temp to allow the transfer to burn into the surface. You will have to play with your glaze, kiln, etc to get it the way you want. I normally just put my transfer pieces in with a load of my bisque and fire it with them and it comes out beautifully.

 

THATS IT! It's really amazingly easy to do and if you are like me and have a few decades of art and sketches to work with you can get some truly unique pieces adding a transferred image or design somewhere to a piece. My next step is going to be to see if I can do the transfer process then use ceramic paints to color in parts of the design and fire it onto the surface, I don't know if it will work as I have never used fired paints but I want to see what it looks like. It could be interesting but if not at least I've tried it.

 

If you are interested I might still have some pieces in the studio I can take a picture of. Most of what I put transfers on sold over the holidays.

 

Terry

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Norm Stuart    80

Jed - I have used the ready-made tape, Keraflex, as letter and design appliques on greenware and bisque.

 

The result looks like an expert relief carving job - certainly more expert than I could pull off.

 

The trick with clay or ceramic tape is to wet it enough for it to take the shape of the clay underneath - yet not tear it.

 

Another compatible technique is to trace out a projection onto a ceramic, with an overhead projector to create a two-dimensional effect on a three dimensional object -- I assume this has to have been the way Valeriya Kutsanhis pulled off these face paintings.  It would have been nearly impossible otherwise.  Using a similar camera obscura technique is assumed to be the way many dutch painters created such uncannily accurate colorations in their oil paintings.

 

The result is a 2-D vision glaze onto a three dimensional ceramic when viewed from one particular angle.  http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/world/gallery/2d-makeup/

182457fc68a742e92f06bbda509437c4-580x870

 

Photographer Dina Goldstein also uses projections on models to create body painting, in addition with prop wigs and other techniques to create her series, "Barbie and Ken in Crisis".

dollhouse-dina-goldstein%20%283%29.jpg

 

in-the-doll-house-02.jpg?w=800

 

Norm posted an article about tape casting. You could make a tape and use a cricket to make sticky letters. You could use the letters on the pottery or the tape with the letters as negative space. Check out his article in his post about "fundamentals of ceramics."

Jed

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Benzine    610

I have recently been using a version, of a technique I learned on this site's featured videos. It involves doing an underglaze inlay. You wax resist leather hard clay, then incise your design through the wax, and into the clay. You then take an underglaze, and apply it to the incised areas. Afterwards, you wipe off the excess, which comes off easily in the other areas, due to the wax.

In the video, they used a translucent glaze overtop, which showed the underglaze design. I have changed the process a bit by putting an underglaze base coat first, then the wax. After incising the design, then using the inlay, I would fire it, then just clear glaze overtop.

 

With this technique, I've transferred handwriting (my own and other's), as well as some drawings.

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Norm Stuart    80

Mixing the mason stains with propylene glycol or glycerols work better than oil base as they are both oil and water soluble, much like a soap or detergent.

 

Printers use a "burnt oil' oil for this, as overheating oil breaks it down into water friendly glycerols and short chain fatty acids.

Mason Stain transfers - print your words in reverse with b&w laser printer or make copies on a b&w copy machine like the library or post office have. Color in the words with underglaze, dry, soak apply to surface. You should put a clear craze over to be sure it's food safe.

Laser transfers - these are applied after your glaze firing. You bisque, glaze, glaze fire, apply the laser transfers fire again around bisque temps. I've seen them done of food items so should be safe. You buy the special paper then print with b&w laser printer cut out soak in water apply to glazed ware let dry and fire very simple and beautiful details I've used it with pen and ink sketches. Oh after firing they look sepia colored not black which gives a really nice tone.

Stencils - print, cut, lay on ware, paint with underglaze, glaze and fire

Handwrite on with underglaze pencils - this is good and gives more of an artistic flare especially if you have nice handwriting.

That's all I can think of right now to add to your other choices.

Terry

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BetsyLu    1

I have recently been using a version, of a technique I learned on this site's featured videos. It involves doing an underglaze inlay. You wax resist leather hard clay, then incise your design through the wax, and into the clay. You then take an underglaze, and apply it to the incised areas. Afterwards, you wipe off the excess, which comes off easily in the other areas, due to the wax.

In the video, they used a translucent glaze overtop, which showed the underglaze design. I have changed the process a bit by putting an underglaze base coat first, then the wax. After incising the design, then using the inlay, I would fire it, then just clear glaze overtop.

 

With this technique, I've transferred handwriting (my own and other's), as well as some drawings.

 I was thinking of doing something similar, but it didn't occur to me to do it with underglaze! The wax resist sounds like a great idea. Do you just use a pointy tool to carve into the clay? 

 

 

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BetsyLu    1

There are a lot of really fantastic suggestions in this thread! I like the idea of using my own handwriting rather than typed text, so the underglaze pencil suggestion really stood out. I'm assuming you need to glaze over top to make it food safe, though? 

 

I'd like to leave the surface plain stoneware if possible, but if there just aren't any options for food-safe text on stoneware I'll glaze over. I don't suppose there is such a thing as a glaze pencil that fires food-safe? That's probably asking too much haha. 

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Benzine    610

 I was thinking of doing something similar, but it didn't occur to me to do it with underglaze! The wax resist sounds like a great idea. Do you just use a pointy tool to carve into the clay?

 

  

 

Despite the fact, I have a lot of nice carving/ incising tools, I just went with a standard, run of the mill needle tool. One more thing I will note, is that I had the text/ drawings done on paper first. Then I set them on the clay surface, and traced over the lines, with a pencil, applying a slight pressure, leaving an impression on the clay. Then I'd apply the resist, and the impression would be visible, to use as a guide.

 

 

There are a lot of really fantastic suggestions in this thread! I like the idea of using my own handwriting rather than typed text, so the underglaze pencil suggestion really stood out. I'm assuming you need to glaze over top to make it food safe, though? 

 

I'd like to leave the surface plain stoneware if possible, but if there just aren't any options for food-safe text on stoneware I'll glaze over. I don't suppose there is such a thing as a glaze pencil that fires food-safe? That's probably asking too much haha.

 

I've seen quite a few underglazes listed as food safe. I'm honestly not sure if that they require a clear glaze overtop to be as such though.

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Norm Stuart    80

I've done something similar with incised or textured bisque.  Paint on and mason color or zircopax, and wipe off the excess on the raised areas.

 

Once dry then apply any glaze.  The mason colors and zircopax are refractory, so will not easily mix with or bleed into the glaze, but the glaze is fluxed enough to seal these low areas filled with color.  It seems the only way to get contrast on darker clays like Laguna Speckled Buff.

 

 

P.S.  Most under-glazes are listed as food-safe when covered by a food-safe clear glaze.

 

I have recently been using a version, of a technique I learned on this site's featured videos. It involves doing an underglaze inlay. You wax resist leather hard clay, then incise your design through the wax, and into the clay. You then take an underglaze, and apply it to the incised areas. Afterwards, you wipe off the excess, which comes off easily in the other areas, due to the wax.
In the video, they used a translucent glaze overtop, which showed the underglaze design. I have changed the process a bit by putting an underglaze base coat first, then the wax. After incising the design, then using the inlay, I would fire it, then just clear glaze overtop.

With this technique, I've transferred handwriting (my own and other's), as well as some drawings.

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Pres    896

One other technique for putting lettering or design of pottery is an after effect. Use sandblasting or etching creme through a stencil.  The lettering is subtle, yet readable.

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BetsyLu    1

One other technique for putting lettering or design of pottery is an after effect. Use sandblasting or etching creme through a stencil.  The lettering is subtle, yet readable.

 Oooh, I actually really like this one, I'm all about subtle texture and have done quite a bit with sandblasted glass. But is etched/sandblasted ceramic food safe? Could you do it on stoneware or would you need a glaze on the surface?  I know that sandblasted glass isn't typically considered food safe, even if it is completely stable clear glass, because the food/liquids stick to the surface more and bacterial growth and leaching occurs. 

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Babs    386

I have recently been using a version, of a technique I learned on this site's featured videos. It involves doing an underglaze inlay. You wax resist leather hard clay, then incise your design through the wax, and into the clay. You then take an underglaze, and apply it to the incised areas. Afterwards, you wipe off the excess, which comes off easily in the other areas, due to the wax.

In the video, they used a translucent glaze overtop, which showed the underglaze design. I have changed the process a bit by putting an underglaze base coat first, then the wax. After incising the design, then using the inlay, I would fire it, then just clear glaze overtop.

 

With this technique, I've transferred handwriting (my own and other's), as well as some drawings.

Benzine, why do you use an underglaze base coat first, just as a contrasting colour?

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Benzine    610

Benzine, why do you use an underglaze base coat first, just as a contrasting colour?

Yes, mostly. Also, because not all the glazes I use are translucent enough to show the underglaze through.

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Pugaboo    438

Benzine - that is a really good one too that I had forgotten about! Tracing the words or image is a brilliant idea to get more control.

You can also do patterns, stencils, etc with the underglaze before you wax the carve. If you get really good at your depth control you can actually use different layers of underglaze so when you carve depending on how deep you go you have different colors showing up with rings of color on the edges. Erin Furimsky shows the wax writing technique on her DVD and she might also have it as one of the demonstration videos here on the site. This is done with the clay at the leatherhard stage but if you are doing other decorating techniques to your piece this has to be the final step before you bisque fire since once waxed nothing else will of course stick to your piece.

 

Everyone is coming up with such great suggestions!

 

Terry

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AnnaM    15

You can transfer images/writing really simply using strain powder transfers on leather hard clay. You need:

 

*a clean ceramic tile, or more than one if you want to use more than one colour.

 

*stain powder

 

*paint brushes for mixing stain powder and water

 

*pencil

 

*paper

 

On your clean tile mix stain powder and some water and spread it evenly as possible over the tile and let dry

 

Once it's dry, take your piece of paper and pencil, lay it over the dry stain powder on the tile and write or draw what you want to transfer onto the clay or if you've printed out your artwork you can just trace the lines of your photocopy.

 

If you want multiple colors, just have different tiles ready with different colours.

 

Then just place the image/writing onto the leatherhard clay as you would a tissue transfer, but without adding extra water. And be careful when you're writing or drawing not to put too much pressure on the paper as the strain powder will stuck to the underside and then you'll get bits of extra colour on your work that you didn't intend to be there.

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AnnaM    15

P.S. Put a really small amount of stain powder on the tile first and just dip your brush in the water, it's easier to add more stain if you need to. You want the stain powder paste to cover the tile really opaquely. You can also use a hairdryer if (like me) you're too impatient to wait for the stain powder to dry naturally. :)

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Pugaboo    438

The method just mentioned is what I call Mason transfer. I add a bit of Gerstley Borate to mine too it helps it be a bit more stable on the pottery piece. Not too much mind you or it makes it stick to the transfer tiles and harder to transfer off of it. I have also used a sheet of glass with the edges taped for larger transfers rather than a tile. I generally make up between 4 and 6 different colored transfer tiles or pieces of glass when doing a project so I can move from color to color on 1 sheet of paper. You can make up your stain tiles a day or 2 ahead but much longer than that and they tend to get bumped and such and that can mess with the surface though I am testing out placing the smaller tiles in baking sheets and then putting another sheet over the top upside down and clipping the 2 together. It seems to work really well at protecting the fragile surface of the transfer tile, just don't forget they are in there and move the trays about randomly. Wreaks havoc with the prepared tiles inside let me tell ya. When you lay your design over it do not touch your hand anywhere you don't want color on your finished piece because it transfers very easily. A mahl stick is really helpful in keeping hour hand and wrist away from the surface. You can also play with what you use to trace your design with different widths of tools make very different lines. I like a carpenters pencil to get a nice varied thick and thin line makes it more expressive than a static same width line through the whole thing. You need to have nothing drier than a leather hard and maybe more of a soft leather hard surface because the moisture in the clay is what wicks the dry powder design off the back of your paper onto the clay. I keep pieces of different widths of PVC pipe around for slipping inside these softer forms so I can do this technique and not warp the round shape. Cardboard box shapes work for doing squares and such. It does take a bit of practice to figure out how to get all the steps to work together but when it does its great. I did a castle on the side of a vase and it looked like a pen & ink sketch. I made it up for a show but it sold before I could even box it up.

 

Terry

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Karen B    26

Anna or Terry,

 

Do you have a preference for the type of paper you use?

Thanks for sharing this technique.

 

Karen

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