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How to Fire Decals on Ceramics: Article or Project

Suitable Glazed Ceramic Item
Appropriate firing Decal
Sponge (Silk or natural work best)

More Details

Decals are one of the most popular over glazes. They are painted pictures or graphics that are adhered to a plastic type film in reverse. This film is attached to a special paper backing, sandwiching the paint between the plastic and paper. Decals can come opaque or semi-transparent, so it is important to know this before applying to your glazed item. If you have a dark background, you will need an opaque decal or it will not show up.

To use a decal, it is necessary to immerse it in water for a short amount of time??¦ 15-20 seconds to one minute. This loosens the decal so it can slide off the paper. Make sure you pre-select the appropriate size decal for your glazed item. MAKE SURE THE DECAL YOU CHOOSE IS THE KIND YOU FIRE.

After immersing in water, gently slide the decal from its paper backing onto the glazed item. Holding it gently, but firmly in place, use a damp sponge to press out the bubbles. Begin from the center of the decal and gently press out the bubbles by sliding the sponge from the center to the outer edge. Take your time and use just enough pressure to remove the bubbles without tearing the decal.

If you are placing the decal on a rounded object, you may have to use an Exacto knife and make some small cuts along the edges to facilitate the curve. Decals do have a small amount of stretch, but if you find it is creating wrinkles that you cannot press out, just cut through the wrinkle, lift the edge to overlap and then smooth it down. The overlapping piece will fire off.

Once placed on the glazed ceramic item, it is necessary to fire it at a low temperature. Cone temperatures will vary depending upon the medium. Those with gold and those designed for application to glass will fire at a cooler temperature so be sure to check with manufacturer as to proper and recommended firing cone. Most decals will fire between cones 022-015. When fired to the proper degree, most decals will have a glossy appearance. If in doubt, fire between 020-018 as that is generally a safe range.

Note, overlapping decals creates a beautiful effect, however if you overlap them before you fire, you will lose the top layer. To create the overlapping look, place one layer then fire the item. Then place the next overlapping layer and re-fire. Also, some subjects - more specifically florals - are gorgeous when outlined with gold. To do this, you need to fire the decal and then apply the gold lining and re-fire.


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