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Thursday, December 4, 2008


This is all Cynthia Guajardo's fault.
She piqued my interest last year when she began exploring the area of art transfers to pottery.
At that time, i was heavily into exploring glaze composition and fuming.
Though i noted the information (re: art transfers) she provides on her blog: Colorado Art Studio ( ) i did not, then, pursue the topic.

In the past however, whenever i have found myself in the throes of sheer depression, the method which worked best for me to whup that ole melancholic despair into a semblance of balance was to deliberately choose a difficult, new and challenging endeavor to learn.
Thus, it seemed like a really good time to explore art transfers.
Not any ole transfers, mind you, but specifically photographic images transmitted to clay.

The challenge of this technique is to find enough information to perform the task. If all the time devoted to locating information on this subject was tracked, i'll betcha i could have won a marathon!
First. All transfer materials are not created equal. It took me a while to realize that there are transparency films, plain paper transfers and decals.
Secondly. There are little quirks inherent to each of these that add to the confusion.
Third. The products that accompany the process differ. Some use Golden Matte Gel as a medium; others use turpentine; some use Clear Acrylic Sealer; others use acetone; while some use regular household rubbing alcohol sprayed on the target surfaces.
Plus, of course, there are inkjet printers and laser printers. The inkjet printers come in two breeds: dye-based inks and pigment-based inks. Lasers use toner which usually use iron oxide to accomplish their black print.
And the methods vary. A few people apply images to pre-glazed pieces while others transfer the images to wet clay. But most people involved in transferring images are:
Fabric Folk
And we potters are truly not kin in their material world.

OK - here is where we currently stand.
Tried the 3M transparency film (laser). This technique needs a heck of a lot more exploration in order to make it work.

Today's attempt: printed a laser image on decal paper and applied it to a pre-glazed cup. My ultimate aim was to transfer the decal to the cup, then fire it in the kiln which as i understood the process would leave a nice sepia toned image. (Intended to add a neat strip of gold luster to the rim and clean up the messy application of the red glaze job at that time too.) Midway during the process, however, realised that the glue side of the decal attaches itself to the surface. Not the image side. Also discovered that the decal was extremely fragile and shreds at the slightest provocation. To boot, i have a hunch i ordered the wrong decal paper so am in a real quandry - to kiln-fire or to not re-fire at all.

Now i want-cha to know -- i'm truly not as egotistical as the image appears! Wanted to create a composite image of the whole family (which would have filled the space nicely) but only had up-to-date photos of Will (who is stationed in Germany) and myself. The cup is a Christmas present and has to get in the mail (how long does it take a package to arrive in Germany?) so it pictures just he and i repeatedly around the circumference of the cup.
Al least this much of the project is done.
Don't have a clue how much further to go to carry it to completion.

If anyone has accomplished this pursuit successfully, i'd sure appreciate a long post with details on exactly how you've managed it. I'll truly give you kudos as being an intelligent genius.
Happy and Creative image-transferring days to y'all.


cynthia said...

Cool Chae! From what I understand, you have to have used a black and white laser printer with at 30% iron oxide in ink. I know HP and Canon apparently do -

If you used an ink jet - the image will burn off in firing.

Check out this thread:

Let us know how it turns out!

chaetoons said...

Cynthia: Will definately post a pix after firing it on Monday.

Yes! All the info i've found, too, says to use a laser printer because the toner uses iron oxide, and inkjet fires out. Had a thought on that (but it will probably take me some time before i explore it) -- if images were transfered with color inkjet transfers, one could use it as a template to paint over with glazes. Just a thought.
But right now, am pursuing the laser transfer method using Bel waterslide decals.
Thanks for getting me started in this direction !!!
P.S. Thanks for the link. Will check it out.

chaetoons said...

Double P.S.
Am using HP products. Read that the Epson laser printer's heads clog after a bit of usage and give folks problems. Don't know whether this is true or not but since all the rest of my computer equipment is HP went that route.

cynthia said...

Cool - I just bought a HP laser printer yesterday. Xmas gift from my mom. :)

I have traditional decal paper though, so I'll need to add a cover coat after I print.

chaetoons said...

Email me at:
And i'll give you some furthering details.
Am just about to post photos of refired piece.