Exploring digital imagery on ceramics

What are the best approaches for applying digital imagery on ceramic art?

Project Abstract

Creating high quality digital decals for use on ceramic art.

The art department recently purchased a ceramic decal printer for the ceramics studio. One of the outcomes of this collaborative research project was to learn how to use the decal printer and to produce high quality ceramics decals for faculty and student use.

This decal printer is similar to a traditional digital printer but is fitted with ceramic inks. Once the decal images are printed, the decals are soaked in water for a short time and then applied to the fired surface of a ceramic object. The ceramic object is then fired again to a range of 1835-1941 degrees F. This final firing will permanently adhere the decal image to the surface of the object.

For this project, we used Photoshop to create the original images for printing. The imagery for the decals can come from a variety of sources; including drawings, paintings, text and photographic imagery. The digital ceramic decal printing process is relatively new, with a limited number of college and university ceramic programs that have them. The printer and inks are costly. The printing process takes time, patience and testing to get a color pallet that will work consistently. The success of the final printing quality are based on several factors; the quality of the original image, the humidity of the room where the printer is located, the quality and age of the inks, the application of the decal, the surface and glaze of the object, the firing temperature and the duration of the firings.

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