How to make Ceramic Decals

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This web page will provide you with the basis for making your own ceramic decals. Please EMAIL ME at frankgaydos at comcast dot net, for more information.(Use the @ symbol instead of 'at' and the . instead of 'dot', )


Some brands of black and white Laser printers contain 60% iron oxide as well as other pigments in their toner cartridge. When a decal is printed using one of these printers and then applied to a ceramic surface and fired, the iron oxide survives the firing. It becomes permanently fused to the glaze surface. The resulting surface is a sepia toned image ( sepia because of the iron oxide) The other pigments, etc, burn away . Not all cartridges contain iron oxide. All Apple black and white laser printers work for this process. Hewlett Packard black and white laser printers also contain iron oxide and work very well. Dell laser printers work , but, less well. They give a less dark image. NEC and and Brothers do not work. Other brands of Laser printers must be tested.


You will need to purchase the Decal paper from http:// Click on Laser decal paper and select 'clear' paper. I use a HP black and white laser printer model 1200 that prints 8x11 inch paper. It also will be helpful to purchase a graphics program along the lines of Photoshop, This will allow you to work with the image; rotate, scale, or invert. Inexpensive photographic programs are available, IE, Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0. You will need to experiment with the glaze you use. Not all glazes will work. Some will eat the toner while others will work just fine. Experiment.


You will be adding the decal to a glazed ceramic surface. After you acquire an image and print it on the Decal Paper, cut the image from the sheet as close as you can to the toner. The idea here is to not have a lot of decal film left over which may hinder placement on curved surfaces. Place the cut decal into warm water and wait about one minute. When the decal slides off the backing paper, place it toner side down onto a smooth already glazed ceramic surface. After placement use a soft paper towel to pat the decal dry while also pushing out any air bubbles that may become trapped. If you allow air to remain under the image, that part of the image will NOT print. Therefore, the surface MUST be SMOOTH. You can place on a curved surface within limits. You should have no problem with the average bowls, coffee mugs, etc. Caution: Make sure you print on the decal paper and not the protective onion skin that seperates the decal paper sheets. It is easy to get confused. Glaze color selection is important. Lighter colors are good. White is the best. For scanned photographs use 300 DPI. More just makes the image too dark. Fire the ware cone 04 - cone 6. Again, you may need to experiment. You may be able to fire lower or need to fire higher.


After the image is fired onto your pot you can then add color by using china paint wash, enamal, overglazes or lusters. If you do not have access to a scanner you can input images from your digital cameras. Also, many DOVER Books among others, now come with a CD, the images already scanned for you. You can purchase color decals at this site:


I would be interested in any feedback to this process. If you have something to add, all the better. frankgaydos at comcast . net. Frank Gaydos

Thank You:

Thanks to Rain Harris in Philadelphia and Sing-Ying Ho for sharing information and improving upon decal techniques.


Decals printed on decal laser paper.




Decals placed toner side down
onto very smooth surface.


Detail showing color after firing.
Dish 'Toms Diner' from Kohls store.


Detail showing how dark
the color can get.


You can make rather large
decals with no problem.


This decal was created using
a Hewlett-Packard Laser Printer..


Image showing how detailed
the image can be.


Majolica tile fired to cone 04
image fired to cone 05.


Click on button to
See more clay transfer ideas.

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