Saturday, March 26, 2011

Image Transfer

Today I attended an image transfer workshop for potters. I am not a potter (though I have done pottery) but I was hoping to learn techniques I could use in other mediums and I did! The processes we learned were simple with amazing results. Unfortunately I didn't take photos, but Denise did, click here to see her blog post. Below is a list of what I learned in bullet point form. If you have a basic understanding of screen printing and pottery this will make sense. If you don't it probably won't make any sense at all.

Lesson 1: Monoprint Tissue Transfer
• Mix 50% powdered stain with 50% Frit (Frit 3124 works well)
• Add water until it's the consistency of ink
• Paint ink onto a piece of glass or tile until opaque
• Let dry completely (20-30min)
• Tape tissue onto the glass
• Draw on top of tissue with a dull pencil
• Dried ink transfers onto the back of the tissue where you've drawn
• Remove tissue from glass and place onto clay
• Gently rub on
• Remove tissue, image is now transferred onto the clay and is ready to be glazed and fired.
*Can be done on a curved surface like a mug

Lesson 2: Lino Printing on Clay
• Mix 50% powdered stain with 50% Frit
• Add small amount of Glycerin to a paste consistency
• Mix ink on a piece of tile
• Use a small roller to and roll ink onto your lino cut
• Use a flat piece of clay, leather consistency, and lay on top of the lino cut
• Ink will transfer to the clay and it will also have a imprint of the lino cut
* You could also use this technique using store bought rubber stamps
* Lino cuts can only be transferred on flab slabs, but small stamps could be transferred to curved pieces.

Lesson 3: Tissue Transfer
• Mix 50% powdered stain with 50% Frit
• Add small amount of Glycerin to a paste consistency
• Mix ink on a piece of tile
• Ink the stamp then stamp tissue paper
• Rub tissue paper onto clay
*Works well for large curved areas

Lesson 4: Paper Resist
• Use premixed underglaze
• Use laser cut paper or craft stencils
• Lay paper or stencil on clay, then paint glaze over stencil
• Remove stencil
• You can also paint the back of the stencil, place on clay (for example blue) then paint the negative space a different colour (yellow). When you remove the stencil you'll have a 2 colour design with crisp clean edges. Simple and beautiful.
*I loved the texture this created. The yellow glaze was dimensional, but the blue glaze was flat.

Lesson 5: Screen Printing - Curved surface
• Mix 50% powdered stain with 50% Frit
• Add small amount of Glycerin to a paste consistency
• Mix ink on a piece of tile
• Screen print your design onto a piece of tissue
• Lay tissue on clay and rub
*Same process as the rubber stamp. Tissue works well for curved surfaces.
* I was shocked at how crisp the small detailed images were.

Lesson 5: Screen Printing -  Flat surface
• Screen print your design directly on a flat piece of clay

Lesson 6: Plaster Printing
• This process uses slips (basically watered down clay mixed with stains)
• Add a suspension agent to your slip
• Use a plaster bat as a base (you can easily make on just using an old baking pan and plaster).
• Screen print the colouring slip on to the plaster (rinse screen quickly) --top colour layer
• Let dry slightly then paint on different colours for filling in details --middle colour layer
• Hand paint a solid background colour over the whole design --background colour layer
• Let dry until the slip looks matte
• Take a thinly rolled flat slab of clay.
• Apply a generous amount of water to the clay
• Quickly roll the clay on top of the plaster pushing out all the excess water.
• Gently roll with a rolling pin
• Square off edges so that the clay is within the painted area.
• Remove clay
*This was a great way of using a line drawn image and easily being able to fill it in with colour.
*You basically apply the colour layers in reverse
*Colours integrate into clay, but are still very crisp

Lesson 7: Decals and Photocopies (to be used after your item has been fired)
• Use decal specific paper. Water transfer paper for pottery can be found at
• Use a photocopier or laser printer to put your images on the decal paper
• Cut out your design
• Put in water and the paper layer will separate
• Place on your fired piece
• Dry with a towel or sponge (same as putting on a temp tattoo)
• Doesn't need a top coat
• Need to be re-fired (at a lower temp)
*The laser toner needs to have iron in it, if not, the image will disappear when fired
*Black laser ink will turn into a rusty brown colour

I will quote my friend Denise here, "Thank you Cathy Terepocki for changing my life" Check out Cathy's blog for more photos.

Thanks Denise for the photos!


  1. holy superwow! This sounds amazing! I can't wait to see it all in person. So much good info and practical stuff in one workshop--I'm so jealous! (In only the best way!)

  2. Ditto: Super Wow! I found you via

  3. just found you via and i can't believe you only have 2 comments so far!! Fantastic to have all the processes in one place in such a concise way, Thank you :^)

  4. Thank you for the kind comments! I have left this blog unattended for a while, but am back to give it some love. Glad to see others found this post useful. :)

  5. I need to get back in the studio! Inspirations abound!

  6. I also come across this image transfer technique using foam.

  7. Thank you Sarah for sharing. I have been needing this creativeness to help give my pottery some "Pop!" I will be working some of these idea later today. Thanks.

  8. Hi there!

    I was interested in printing my own decals to place on plates and bone china

    I was looking at 8-1/2" x 11" INKJET WATER SLIDE DECAL PAPER 10 PACK however it says it is only good for decorative use

    Can you suggest a product that would be safe to use (ie. not just decorative)?

    I am interested in doing a project similiar to this - her work is safe to eat and drink from, do you have advice on how I could achieve this from home?


  9. It would be great, If we could subscribe to your blog. Please add a subscribe-fielt to your blog. Please!

  10. Tissue works well for curved surfaces, I was shocked at how crisp the small detailed images were.

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  11. You have provided an nice article, Thank you very much for this one. And i hope this will be useful for many people.. and i am waiting for your next post keep on updating these kinds of knowledgeable things...
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  12. As primarily a printmaker with limited clay knowledge, what is my next step in firing these? What cone should I fire to? Can I paint the images with glazes after bisque firing? Presumably I wouldn't paint before firing since it might mess with the crispness of the lines, right?
    I'm super excited about trying this out in my classroom! Thanks for sharing!