Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blogging About Ceramic Decals

***See bottom of this post on how to win one of my pendants***

I was thrilled to be asked by Mary Harding via the Beads-of-Clay Blog about the process I use to create my Porcelain Decal pieces.

There are two other Beads of Clay artists that also contributed to the blog post through Mary, so check it out for all the details.

I wanted to post some additional pictures about the actual process here to give you a visual insight into how I make the pieces (to compliment what the BOC blog has on it)...

The following picture is of my normal work space when applying the decals to my already glazed (to Cone 6) pieces. Decals are cut out, pieces are laid out, and extras are on stand by in baggies. I dry fit the decals before putting them into the water bath. The towel on the table is there because I like to be able to get a little messy when working and not worry about dripping all over the place...

This picture is a close up of the warm water bath that the cut out decal pieces sit in to remove the paper backing and moisten the "glue" on actual decal. You can see one of the paper backings towards the top right of the picture.

Here are some of my Chickadee and Dark Eyed Junco, and a few abstract designs once they are in their final place. Notice how dark the image is before the Decal Firing (Cone 1).

And here is a bunch of my flower pieces. I liked having the images a bit smaller and off center so charms and other dangles can be hung from the hole without covering the image entirely.

A close up of some of my flower drawings as decals before they are fired in the kiln...

Here is a quick shot of the pieces in the kiln before the Cone 1 firing...

And after the firing... Notice the color change?

Here are some pieces out of one of my very first decal firings. And like anything, you keep testing to see how to make the pieces come out as you visualize. For me it was figuring out to put a very thin coat of glaze (not my normal 2-4 coats of glaze as pictured here) and firing to Cone 1 for the decals...

If you want to give this a try, you will have to be ready to run tests to see what will work best for you (well, really, what works best for the materials you are using).

For blank beads, check out my friend Marla's company:
Early in the year when I realized that I wanted to work more on the layout of the design on the piece rather than on the actual making of the plain porcelain pendants, I asked Marla if she could have my entire line (and then some) of my standard shapes and sizes made for me - and for her to be able to sell through her company (why reinvent the wheel right? and why not help support another artist and small business - especially when the quality of the pieces are out of this world!!!)

So that's what we're working on... well, I sent the sizes and shapes and she's working on it, I'm buying them...

And you can benefit by being able to just click and buy the same pieces that I use by going to her website and shopping. And she offers various clay bodies with different firing temperatures. Amazing!!! Lots more to come as the pieces are finalized...

Oh and check out the Bisque Bead Supply Blog as well. She's got news and contests on there!

For other suppliers, check out the Beads of Clay Blog link (for info and for where to get the laser-jet water slide decal paper)

And for those of you who have gotten to the bottom of this blog - a contest (2 actually)...
If you comment on this blog, you will be entered to win this:
My daisy flower on my large round porcelain pendant - on a black silky ribbon.

If you have a blog or website and post a link to this blog, then comment here with a link, I'll put you in a 2nd drawing to win the above pendant and some additional surprise goodies.

Chloe will be pulling the winners (from a box or hat of sorts) on Friday, August 7th.

Have fun!!!


  1. these are great! i love how you offset them... the flowers, chickadees, all came out terrific... and it's great to be able to see inside the kiln, thanks for showing that... will definitely look at the beads-of-clay blog... thanks!

  2. Hi! Just read the BOC blog and jumped over to check out your process. I've been wanting to try this out and appreciate the time you've put into sharing this with us! Love your product...I have many older pieces of yours and love them to this day! They also inspired me to try out my own clay ideas.

    Thanks again!


  3. Very cool Marsha! I need decals to work in a Laser printer. I hate inkjet printers and went all laser (even my fax machine). Oh, congrats on the upcoming second baby!

  4. Very interesting and they look great. I especially love the birds. Thank you for taking the time to explain your process.

  5. How very, very generous of you to share the details of your decal process. I love your images and I think it's an incredibly smart move to concentrate on that end and support Marla's buisness with producing the blanks. Beautiful work!

  6. I have so admired your new pieces with the decals- lovely way to showcase your fantastic artistic talent! Thanks for the chance to win one of them :)

  7. Consider yourself blogged! And twice in one week!

    I adore the crusty patina on your bead tree. That is some serious history. Maybe that Wire order I placed yesterday can be settled in trade? I must have a swirly tree!

  8. marsha i love the decal pendants. are these drawings you've created? they are lovely, the birds are my favorites.

  9. Marsha, Your post is just fabulous. What a great expansion of the info on the Beads-of-Clay Blog. I love the close up photos of the works in progress. And all the great info about Marla's Bisque beads. I think I will do follow up blog about what she has to offer. This is so great for ceramic artists. Thanks again for all your great info and enthusiastic writing.

  10. Thanks everyone for leaving comments!

    And yup - these are all my own drawings and doodles that I have scanned into the computer and fiddled with. I had way too many drawings to make them all into texture plates and really wanted to use them. So now comes the fun part of fooling around with them on the pieces. I just wish the time it takes to rescale them in the computer didn't take so long...

  11. Marsha Marsha Marsha,

    Just read about your second baby!!! Wahoo!! Hope all is well, I was looking for your etsy shop, not sure I found it, I didn'tsee the scarves.......is the link off your page current??? Was looking for a baby tee for my godchild's little boy who will be entering this world sometime in August. Miss you, haven't been able to get to any shows for almost a year!! I can't believe it. Say Hi to darlene and give a kiss to that precious little Chloe!! Vicki

  12. Great post! I've always wanted to may my own ceramic beads but that would require shelling out the money for a kiln. There are no ceramic places around here to practice on first.

    Funny, I pictured you painting all those designs on. Duh! The decals are sweet!

    Thanks so much for showing the process, and for doing a giveaway. I'd love to win that pendant!

  13. Hi Alice!
    Thanks for the comment on my decal process...

    If you go to the main blog, and not just this post, you can see a link to an open studio event that is happening on Oct. 25 with 16+ clay artists participating. And lots of giveaways too (at least 2 per blog during the open studio for commenters).

    Talk soon...

  14. Oh gosh, I just realized this is a summer post and here I am thinking I have a chance to win the pendant I was so excited I didn't even read all the way to the bottom!

    My face is red!!!!!!!!!!! Still love the beads though.

  15. Marsha I love your jewelry! I have just started incorporating jewelry into my pottery studio as well. I have a question for you, do you print your own decals and if so what printer and paper do you need to use. Thanks in advance, here is my blog, http://kimundsethpottery.blogspot.ca/

    1. Hi Kim! Here is a link to the Water Slide Decal paper: http://www.decalpaper.com/product-p/l825c.htm
      I use an older HP Laser printer (I think around the time of this original post, there were to be changes in the industry to decrease the amount of iron in the cartridges). With this process you need a bit more iron, so I am curious to see how a newer Laser printer would work. :)

  16. What do you use in the kiln for hanging the pendants off the bead rack in the kiln?

    1. Hi Rhiannon! The Bead Trees I use are Roselli Bead Trees. They come with Nichrome (maybe Kanthal) wire rods. I then use Nichrome wire to make my own hooks to use to hang the pendants from the rods. I prefer to use 20ga Nichrome wire to make these hooks. Here is a link to my preferred Nichrome wire supplier: http://www.jacobs-online.biz/nichrome_wire.htm

      Also - I use a memory wire cutter (jewelry making tool) to cut the nichrome wire. It is very hard wire!


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