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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)
Water

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.

When immersed in water, the decal will roll itself into a tube. When it is ready to remove, it will uncurl. After immersing in water, gently slide the decal from its paper backing onto the glazed item. Lay it gently over the glazed surface and with your thumb or finger gently pull/push it off the backing and onto the surface.

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 (from center to edge) 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. Let the item dry.

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 020-015 (017 to 015 is most common). 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. If the surface does not fuse (dull and rough to touch) you can fire at a hotter cone.

Items firing in the low range don't need to be stilted, but it is recommended to do so for safety, so the item does not fuse on the shelf.

When firing, leave the peepholes open and prop the lid for the first hour (warm up phase) to facilitate escaping fumes. Turn up to medium for one hour, and place a plug in the top peephole only - this helps to circulate the even flow of heat- Keep lid propped open during medium warm up. Turn up to high and close the lid. Always use a cone when firing. A shelf cone is also a good idea.

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.

Caution: the more often you fire your ceramics, the greater the risk of breakage, cracking, etc. This holds true regardless of your firing temperatures. So, always make sure you allow the kiln to cool completely before opening.

 

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