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Application Tutorial

Applying ceramic transfers, with thanks to Heather Moore

Things to know before you start

  • Ceramic transfers can be applied to ceramics that have already been glazed and fired.
  • Transfers can be made up in an almost limitless range of colors, including metallics.
  • Your artwork can be a simple one-color design, or it can be full photographic half tone.

Step 1 
Cut out and sort

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, carefully cut the images from each transfer sheet. Cut fairly close to the edges of the images, but not so close that the image becomes very flimsy.

Step 2
Float transfers

When you're ready to place your transfers on ceramics, put each cut-out transfer into a dish of water. Keep tweezers handy to get them out again. It doesn't take long for the transfer to loosen from the backing paper.

Step 3 Apply
transfers to ceramics

Slide the transfer from the backing paper onto the plate. The transfer is still pretty slippery at this stage, so it's easy to slide around and place. However, don't do too much sliding around, as you'll lose the backing glue.

Step 4
Remove water

It is important to remove all the water from the plate and get rid of any air or water bubbles behind the transfers. Use fingers to smooth out wrinkles, then sponge away water and air bubbles. This part of the process is fiddly, as it's very easy to shift the transfers at this stage.

Step 5
Fixing the transfers

Before firing, allow the transfers to dry for a day. For Firing Schedule see below.

We recommend firing to cone 017 or 780 Celsius

Firing schedule, with thanks to Justin Rothshank

Let your decals dry for at least 12 hours before firing. You can push this time but be ready for decal imperfections. Decals that aren't dried are prone to bubble and adhere incompletely.

Vent the kiln well during the firing -- especially from room temperature up to 1100°F. Having a vent master and room vent can be helpful. Also be sure the ductwork from your kiln vent to the outside is tight. Poor ventilation can cause a cloudy appearance on the surface of the fired decal. It can also cause pinholing and other glaze defects. Smells from decal firings can be very unpleasant.

--fire 200°F per hour to 220°F and hold for 30 minutes.

--then 300°F per hour to 500°F and hold for 20 minutes.

--finally go 400°F per hour to 1402°F and hold for 12 minutes.

Repeat firing as necessary to achieve layered decal effects.