Ceramic Laser Toner Decal Success

Eat Crow decal side view

Eat Crow decal side view

This is one of those processes that I have been dying to try, I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier.  I think it may be because it seemed so complicated and to be honest, it required the purchase of a laser printer.  This bowl has been waiting ever so patiently on a shelf in my studio for at least 2 months now for bit of embellishment.  Last Thursday, I decided to do the test firing because I plan to add decals to Jean’s custom box and I don’t want to screw it up.

Why “eat crow“?  I’m eating a piece of my own humble pie right now and, well, I think a lot of people can identify with the phrase.  Haven’t we all made mistakes in our lifetimes that we’d rather forget?  This is a not so subtle reminder not to make those same mistakes again.

Eat Crow decal on interior of bowl

Eat Crow decal on interior of bowl

There’s always a bit of planning and research (for me at least) before I can jump into a project.  I always get frustrated with my husband because he doesn’t read the instructions and then gets irritated and grumpy when things aren’t working.  But, I found a ton of great information on ceramic decal firing including from Paul Wandless’ book, Image Transfer on Clay, Justin Rothshank’s website, Linda Arbuckle’s website and also fellow Etsy Mud Team member, Keith Phillip’s blog.

Colorado Art Studio Bar Code decal

Colorado Art Studio Bar Code decal

So, after reading and reading and reading some more, I did it.  I finally took the time to print a page of decals and used a few pots for test firings.  I found that the simpler image of the “Eat Crow” decal printed clearer than the water lily or bar code.  The bar code began to disintegrate a bit in places, so I’m not sure it will actually scan.  It is on the bottom of the pot and was fired upside down – not sure if that makes sense or a difference.

Here are some photos of  “how to apply a decal”:

So, I took everyone’s advice and fired the kiln slow at ^04 since I the glazes are ^6.  Here are a few highlights from my firing log – wish I had taken photos (maybe next time).  I used a small manual AIM 88T test kiln with kiln sitter – the temperature goes from low 1-8 to high.  I followed the firing instructions on Linda Arbuckle’s ceramic decal handout available on her site – she recommends leaving the lid cracked until the kiln reaches red heat and I left the peep open for the entire firing.

  • 6:30 am started the firing on low, lid cracked.
  • 8:30 am lid cracked, moved temp to 2 – decal is beginning to burn off and it’s turning brown around the edges.
  • 10:30 am lid cracked, moved temp to 4
  • 11:30 am I couldn’t help peeking an hour early – the decal is completely black and I can barely see the image – a slight panic sets in
  • 12:30 pm moved temp to 6 and closed the lid – the kiln is glowing red – the decal cover coat must be almost burned off, I can see the image clearly and the black is practically not visible anymore.
  • 1:30 pm moved temp to 8 – just waiting…
  • 2:30 pm – eek – the kiln is off and the electricity to my garage is off – the circuit breaker must have blown.  That’s never happened during a firing before.  The Aim kiln is a 120 volt and I had my space heater plugged into the same outlet – doh.  Unplugged heater, reset circuit breaker.  Luckily the kiln is pretty hot – so I just turned it back on at the temp where it was before.
  • 3:30 pm moved temp to High.
  • Kiln turned off around 4:30 pm.  Normally the kiln wouldn’t take quite as long, but the tripped breaker added some time.
  • Next morning at 6:00 am, I opened the cool to the touch kiln and smiled a big smile!

I’ve tried scratching the decals off – the iron oxide decal is truly fused to the glaze.  I haven’t run these through the dishwasher yet, but it’s on my agenda.

So, there you have it in a nutshell.  I have a full day today and must run – I’m going to a in house plate/platter workshop at the Colorado Potters Guild and am taking my daughter to see Coraline this afternoon.  Forgive my typos – no time to edit….

Have a good Sunday,

~Cynthia

23 comments