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Ceramic decals are like regular decals only the decal has ceramic pigments (colorants in the design like china paints) You can make your own (I never have) with the right  printer and the right paper and toners)I have done decal work and own some still (recently found)

But in terms of decals you apply to an already smooth fired glaze piece and fire to luster temps. You wet the paper and work and slide off the film containing the colorants. They make decal squeegees but they are basically a credit card. Fire to c 017 or Cone018. The film burns away you are left with an image

I'll posts a photo from one i did in 1976 when I was doing some slip casting of old old bottles

there is a hint of mother of pearl luster as well on this piece. I still have it which is saying something as I am not a fan of this type of thing anymore

been there done that moved on about 45 years

hope that helps-hopefully a decal maker will chime in.

 

 

IMG_3482.jpeg

Edited by Mark C.
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@graybeard, do you mean the sepia toned decal transfers or coloured decals? Sepia toned ones are done with specific laser printers that use high iron content ink cartridges (micr for cheque printing). Just Google laser decal printing service and ones like this one will come up. 

For colour decals you could always get them custom printed. Callie has mentioned Forge Studios in Canada which does custom decal making at a reasonable cost, I'm sure there are other places too if you do a Google search.

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@graybeard

There's two main kinds of decals that are popular right now: Waterslide decals and tissue transfers. 

Tissue transfers are just pigments and probably some flux, or some DIY it with underglaze, silk screened onto rice paper or newsprint. These are typically applied to clay that is still wet, although some of the commercially available ones you get from companies like SanBao can be applied to bisque. Making these ones do require some knowledge of silkscreen process and the related equipment, but there's not a huge learning curve at all, and if you want to make your own, this is likely the least expensive method.

 Using anyone's pre-printed stock waterslide decals doesn't require any special technical knowledge, and they can be a lot of fun. There's a pretty wide selection available from companies like Milestone Decal, or Xpressions is another company I found recently. Forage Studios (link in Min's post above) is a good option if you only need a few sheets of something you've custom designed yourself, and she does offer excellent technical assistance. She does not offer any premade ones though.  Milestone offers both china paint decals, as well as a handful of ones that can be fired to cone 6. Milestone and Xpressions both offer a custom decal service, which is better for slightly larger runs (like if you've got a client who wants their logo on 50 handmade mugs), but they do charge a setup fee for each design in addition to the per sheet cost. It's worth pricing out, depending on the size of the job.

To use waterslide decals, you only need a cloth, some scissors to cut the decal out, and a dish of hot tap water. Waterslide decals are printed on a piece of paper that has 2 layers. There's a backing layer that supports the image layer, kind of like those temporary tattoos you used as a kid. There is often a third, protective tissue layer to keep the sheets from sticking to each other during storage and transport. Unlike temporary tattoos though, instead of getting the backing wet with the image side facing the skin, you cut out the image, soak the image in a bowl of hot water *just* enough to soften the backing, and place the image, backing paper side down onto the pot, and then slide the paper out from between the pot and the image. You have a little time to position the image somewhat, but not a lot. Larger images tend to be more difficult to place than smaller ones. Once the image is in place, you carefully smooth the water and any trapped air out from under the image by using a little red rib or a cloth. Leave them to dry for a few hours before firing.  The layer that the ink was printed on will burn out, leaving the ceramic pigment on the pot like a layer of china paint. The cone six ones I mentioned from Milestone just fire right into the glaze. 

Printers and paper to make your own decals are available commercially, but they're an investment. Last I looked the one that only used black ink was 1K USD, so not ideal for hobby use. The ones that do colour decals are a lot more.

There has been some controversy in recent years over a patent that was taken out in the US for the process of making your own on a regular home printer that has an iron based toner, and using a readily available, inexpensive decal paper. These are the sepia decals that were mentioned, as they don't fire a true black. The person who took out the patent sued a number of people, including the Ceramic Arts Network here for sharing information about the process, and shut down Bel Decal for selling the paper to do it with. She is currently the only person in the US who offers that specific paper for sale (at a price higher than others were charging). She is currently the only person who can legally share information about sepia decals in the US. She has a lawyer, and isn't afraid to point them at anyone with a website that can be easily viewed in the States that shares this information, so you can't look to Australians or Canadians who were sharing information on the web about this process either. Information isn't as available as it once was. 

There are other papers that will apparently do the same trick, but they're sold for  non-ceramic purposes and you'd have to do a lot of research to figure out what would work and what wouldn't. Also, anyone selling these papers won't be able to offer technical assistance for what they'll consider to be an off-label use.  

 

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52 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

There has been some controversy in recent years over a patent that was taken out in the US for the process of making your own on a regular home printer that has an iron based toner, and using a readily available, inexpensive decal paper. These are the sepia decals that were mentioned, as they don't fire a true black. The person who took out the patent sued a number of people, including the Ceramic Arts Network here for sharing information about the process, and shut down Bel Decal for selling the paper to do it with. She is currently the only person in the US who offers that specific paper for sale (at a price higher than others were charging). She is currently the only person who can legally share information about sepia decals in the US. She has a lawyer, and isn't afraid to point them at anyone with a website that can be easily viewed in the States that shares this information, so you can't look to Australians or Canadians who were sharing information on the web about this process either. Information isn't as available as it once was. 

There are other papers that will apparently do the same trick, but they're sold for  non-ceramic purposes and you'd have to do a lot of research to figure out what would work and what wouldn't. Also, anyone selling these papers won't be able to offer technical assistance for what they'll consider to be an off-label use.  

 

Somebody's jackboots may be breaking my door down in a day or two and this wonderful Ceramics Arts website might be taken down for what I am about to do, my apologies in advance, it has been nice knowing y'all. I recently purchased a package of a "standard" waterslide decal paper from a big river south of the equator, the paper is made by a company in S. Korea, so beyond the reach of US patent lawyers. The brief instructions make no mention of ceramic firing, but there are pictures on the package label of graphic images on mugs and plates. I have a test piece in the kiln right now of an image printed on an HP laser printer (black toner that will turn sepia in the firing). Watch this space, more to follow (if I live that long...).

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callie, today i visited a teaching studio in Leesburg, va.  they use SanBao decals and the owner will be teaching a class soon on their use.   i asked her about the prices and she thought they were very reasonable, typing paper size under $2 and the big ones, they look like the size of a city newspaper front page, are $4.   these were very colorful all over prints and they are usually cut apart to use a single image on a small piece.  

the owner said they are well received and very popular among her students.  it was great to hear that her student population has been very loyal, she is following all the covid precautions and i noticed a really smart idea.   the tables students use are the long banquet tables most of us know.  she has hung clear plastic shower curtains from the ceiling tiles using the same thing hospital emergency rooms use to separate patients.   she got the clips and sliding supports from a medical supply house.  the curtains are very clear and divide the tables perfectly in half.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

For anyone who was concerned about any legal issues, this is the disclaimer we have been asked to post. The moderators won’t be removing any information, but anything you say is at your own risk. 
 

As you may be aware, The American Ceramic Society is currently involved in a lawsuit relating to this topic matter. As it states in the Ceramic Arts Network Community Forum Terms of Use, opinions expressed here reflect the views of the author of the message, not the views of the Ceramic Arts Network or its parent organizationThe American Ceramic Society.”

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