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Ceramic transfer (or decal) printing, provides an exciting creative potential for any ceramic artist. With the up-to-date techniques detailed here, you can transfer pictures, patterns or text onto both two- and three-dimensional forms. Most importantly, printing on ceramics achieves distinct aesthetic effects not possible using any other decorating techniques. Transfers, or decals, have great potential as a means of creative expression. Printmaking allows reproduction of both photographic and ‘hand drawn’ imagery, pattern and text onto the surface of two and three-dimensional ceramic objects.

 

Softcover | 144 Pages
Order code CA113 | ISBN 978-1-57498-310-4

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The advantages of print

Printing is one of the prime methods of decorating ceramics. The advantage over hand-painting is that a print can be accurately and rapidly reproduced, making it especially attractive for industrial production. The individual artist or designer is less likely to be concerned with high-volume production, but might well be attracted to the diversity of aesthetic that print can offer. Hand-painting tends to look handpainted, whereas a print can take many forms, from the painterly to the photographic.

 

 

The versatility

There are many ways to print onto ceramics, and transfer printing forms a significant strand of the range of printing potential. Screenprinting is perhaps the most versatile print method available so a large proportion of this book is devoted to it. The advantage of using a transfer is that finer and more accurately registered imagery can be printed onto paper and then applied to the ware.

   

Ceramic Transfer Printing has enough detail and step-by-step information to give me confidence to have a go at new techniques. - M.B., Australia

 

 

The creativity

Transfers also have the advantage that they can be cut up and freely collaged onto ceramics, creating a range of meanings, whereas a direct print is perhaps more limited. But don’t think of transfers as a singular decoration. Transfers are ideally used with one or more other decorating techniques using stencils, spraying, overglazes, underglazes, etc.  

 

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Chapter 1: What is a ceramic transfer?
Petrie begins the book with an explanation of some key principles including the components of a waterslide transfer or decal.

 

Chapter 2: A historical overview
Since the mid-18th century, transfer printing has enabled the application of a diverse range of printed aesthetic effects to the surface of ceramics. This chapter traces key developments, and end notes point to further reading.

 

Chapter 3: How ceramic transfer prints look: methods and aesthetics
Printing is a means of reproducing an image on the ceramic surface. But what are the qualities of that image? This chapter links methods and the resulting aesthetic characteristics.

 

Chapter 4: Materials for ceramic transfer printing
Many of the processes described in this book are very similar to methods of printing onto paper. However, in order for your prints to be fired onto ceramics there are important differences in the printing mediums and colourants used. The chapter covers inks for printing onto ceramics, printing mediums, a description of on-glaze/in-glaze/underglaze, transfer papers, screens, types of ceramic and health and safety.

 

Chapter 5: Screen printed waterslide transfers: the basics
The prime method of ceramic transfer printing is the waterslide transfer or decal. This chapter describes how to make both water-based and solvent-based versions from describing screenprinting in general to providing a step-by-step guide for making transfer, mixing ink, printing and firing.

 

Chapter 6: Some low-tech approaches to using screen printing
Some often overlooked methods can be used to produce screen printed transfers with a very basic level of equipment. this chapter includes flat sheets of color, basic stencils, paper stencils, screen block and open stock transfers.

 

Chapter 7: Extending the potential of screen printing: ‘photographic’ stencils
The ability of transfer printing to reproduce a diverse range of imagery onto ceramic is perhaps one of its key attractions. This chapter describes the prime methods of using light-sensitive emulsion as a stencil for photographic stencil production.

 

Chapter 8: Integrating form and image: one artist’s approach
This chapter describes the research of Steve Brown, who has developed innovative approaches to transferring imagery to clay forms, so as to achieve a greater integrity of form and image.

 

Ceramic Transfer Printing is probably the most up to date (and best looking) book on the subject currently. It does not read like a dumbed down version of a book for the sound bite kind of reader/learner market. The quality and variety of contemporary images within make it very attractive to a teacher and student. It is better than I expected it to be and a useful tool for someone like me who uses and teaches the subject often. – L., Australia 

 

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Chapter 9: Digital transfers
Digital transfer printing machines offer quick and accessible transfer prints. This chapter considers the strengths and weaknesses of these methods.

 

Chapter 10: Revisiting early transfer printing methods
Early methods of transfer printing offer a distinct aesthetic. This chapter shows how to transfer etchings onto ceramics using potter’s tissue and describes research using photopolymer plates.

 

Chapter 11: Transfer printing and enamel on metal
Vitreous enamel is essentially a layer of clear or colored glass fused to a metal surface (commonly steel, copper, gold or silver) through the action of heat (760-820°C/1400- 1508°F).

 

Chapter 12: Transfers and glass
Glass offers the potential for distortion, transparency and the encasing of imagery inside forms.

  
A diversity of approaches

Drawing on more than twenty years of experience, Kevin Petrie offers a focused analysis of the potential of ceramic transfer printing as a creative medium. He traces the history of the subject and explains the distinctive visual qualities of a range of transfer printing methods. The materials and techniques for making versatile screen-printed ceramic transfers are explained from the ‘low tech’ to the more sophisticated. Other approaches by artist researchers are also brought together and recent developments with digital transfers appraised. A range of case studies shows the potential and diversity of approaches in this area, which extends beyond ceramics to also include enamel on metal and glass.

 

 

Review by Sumi von Dassow

A ceramic transfer, otherwise known as a decal, is created by using silk screen to print a design onto special paper to be subsequently fired–thus transferred–onto a ceramic surface. While anyone can buy commercial decals and transfer them onto their own ceramic objects, if you have a silk screen and the appropriate ceramic pigments, you can make decals from your own designs. As you will learn from this book the process is not necessarily a complex or intimidating one. While there are lots of ways to draw or paint or impress imagery onto a ceramic surface, transfers offer a way to replicate a design multiple times; and the image quality is quite different from that of a painted or impressed image.

 

I was interested in this book for two reasons; one is that I have a silk-screen I salvaged from the trash and have never used; the other is, I have a student who keeps asking me how to transfer her photographs onto her pottery. I have learned from this book that it should be possible, indeed relatively easy, to screen print a decal of a black-and-white photograph and transfer it onto a piece of pottery. It just requires scanning and then printing the image onto transparent film and getting a few materials that I don’t have on hand: light-sensitive emulsion to coat the screen with, decal paper, ceramic pigment, and a suitable medium to mix in the pigment. The ceramic pigment can be enamel, for decals that will be fired onto an already glazed surface; or stains and oxides, for decals that will go under or in a glaze. Product names are always given in the text and suppliers are listed in the back of the book, so getting ready to print won’t be too difficult. In fact, if my student wanted to, there are suppliers listed who will actually make digital transfer prints for her, and all she has to do is stick them on and fire them.

 

But of course, there’s a lot more you can do with a silk screen, decal paper, and ceramic pigment. You can draw onto a screen with wax to block out certain areas, creating a pattern or image, then print through it; you can print a solid or blended field of color onto decal paper, then cut out shapes and apply them to your pot; and you can even print directly onto a flat item such as a tile. You can make a monoprint decal by painting pigment directly onto the screen and then transferring it to decal paper. You can print many decals and combine them in interesting ways, or apply decals onto background decoration. The book even covers transfer printing with enamels onto metal or glass, and offers a number of “case studies” where artists use transfer printing in creative and often surprising ways.


If you want to add decoration to your pottery beyond what you can do with glazes and underglazes this book will be helpful. Painters and other two-dimensional artists who are interested in expanding into applying imagery to clay, might find this book especially useful. On the other hand, if you are a potter with lots of ideas for incorporating imagery into your pottery, you are likely to benefit from it as well, especially if you would like to replicate your imagery. You might be really good at drawing, but if you want the same drawing on a variety of tableware, then ceramic decals may be the way to go
.

 

Pottery Making Illustrated Mar/Apr 2011

 

CLICK HERE to get Ceramic Decals and Ceramic Transfer Printing for only $59.95

 

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