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Excellent Repost! Ceramic Decals

Butterfly decal on ceramic bead by Natalie Pappas

Ceramic Decal Flower Drawing Pendant by MarshaNealStudio

Have you seen some of the great work BOC artists are doing with Ceramic Decals?

In the recent issue of Creative Jewelry there is a wonderful example of a ceramic decal pendant by MarshaNealStudio . JoanMillerPorcelain , MarshaNealStudio and Natalie Pappas all have fine examples of their Ceramic Decal pendants and earrings in their Etsy stores. Natalie Pappas has recently posted some links on the Beads-of-Clay Yahoo group. These three women are veteran members of Beads-of-Clay and have been very instrumental in getting ceramic beads and pendants recognized as an art form.

Earrings and a pendant from JoanMillerPorcelain in her Etsy shop. What incredible colors she achieves.

More colorful pendants from JoanMillerPorcelain with wonderful detail and design. She says some of these have the image on front and back.

Ceramic Decal Bead by Natalie Pappas

Natalie Pappas has been experimenting with decals for a number of years, starting off with commercial ones and now moving on to her own drawings and photo images. This piece features a commercial rose and a fractal image that Natalie has done using photoshop.

In a recent post on the Beads-of-Clay Group Natalie shared some of the information she has found useful on her journey into Ceramic Decal making. She has offered them to us for this post as well.:
Here is a link that gives you all the info you need to get started making ceramic decals with your own drawings or pics you scan: http://home.comcast.net/~frankgaydos/Decal-1.html

If you want to make your own pics in PhotoShop and then send them to a company to turn them into decals follow this link: http://www.easyceramicdecals.com/

Natalie recently attended a workshop on image transfer onto clay and you can read about it here: http://nkpdesigns.blogspot.com/2009/06/steve-horn-workshop.html

a wonderful dragonfly decal graces this ceramic pendant by Joan Miller

Ceramic Decal Pendant from a drawing, MarshNealStudio

When I contacted Marsha Minutella, artist and owner of MarshaNealStudio, she offered to share her techniques for making ceramic decals for this blog post. Here is what she wrote:

"All of my imagery starts out as a pen and ink drawing. I find that if I surround myself with things that inspire me – usually imagery from various media and objects found in nature, I can sit for some time and doodle in my notebook. I just let inspiration take hold and the drawings seem to transform in front of me. When I find something that interests me within my drawing, I will try to duplicate that particular image to either become a texture plate for my textured pendant pieces or I can scan it into the computer to then manipulate it a bit more before printing it out as a decal image.

When I first began to work with clay as a medium for making pendants, I decided upon working with Cone 6 porcelain and Cone 4-6 glazes because of the durability and color variations available commercially. As I have started to work with decal imagery, I have decided to try to limit myself by using the decals on a clear Cone 6 glaze only. I have been experimenting with my colored glazes and find that the less reactive, lighter colors seem to take the decal image best. When trying the more reactive glazes and the darker glazes the decal either became distorted or disappeared. This is due to the fact that the decal image is printed on a sheet of clear laser printer water slide decal paper (Source: http://www.decalpaper.com/product-p/l825c.htm) and the iron in the ink is what the actual decal image consists of. And that iron image is transferred into the glaze surface during the kiln firing.
For my Cone 6 clear glaze, I fire my decal image to Cone 1.
Here is what my typical firing schedule looks like:
Bisque firing to Cone 04
Glaze firing to Cone 6
Decal firing to Cone 1

To be able to print one of my line drawings as a decal image, I have to first scan the image into my computer at 300dpi. I then use masking and painting tools to make sure the image is a nice dark black. I can then resize the image and duplicate it so that when I print out the image on the 8.5”x11” laser water slide decal paper, I use as much of the paper surface as possible. After the paper is printed and allowed to dry, I cut the image out as close to the outermost black line as possible. When ready to work I put the decal pieces into warm water to soak until the paper backing is ready to come off and slide the decal image onto one of my glazed pendants. I press out all of the air bubbles and make sure that the decal is where I want it to be. After letting it dry for at least 12 hours they are ready to be fired in the kiln.I had tried experimenting with various firing temperatures for my Cone 6 glaze, and found that the combination that worked for me was a thin coat of glaze and Cone 1 decal firing. If you are thinking of giving this a try, be prepared to do some testing on your glazes to make sure you find your optimum decal firing temperature. Also, when you are working on your computer, try variations within grayscale and black & white images to see how your image comes out.
Here are some sites I came across that helped point me in the right direction while experimenting with the process:


Thank you Marsha for the great tutorial on making Ceramic Decals. Great info from both you and Natalie. And wonderful photos of your work from all three of you.
I hope that if any readers try this process will send me a pic and I will post it on this Blog. And if you are a jewelry designer and use a ceramic decal component in one of your pieces I would love to publish your pic here as well.

Be sure to check out the work of these three great artists and founding members of Beads-of-Clay:

Posted by Mary Harding


  1. Thanks for the great post Mary! I love to see how different the work is... Thanks for getting this together!

  2. Thank you so much for this terrific article getting the word out in regards to homemade artist decals.

    I am so glad to learn Marsha's firing schedule for these iron oxide decals. Beautiful drawings, too! So true about having to experiment to find out which glazes work best with the homemade decals.

    And wow, Joan has perfected working with colored glazes on these. I love these patterns on these pendants! Wonderful!

    Thanks again, Mary!

  3. I've updated my blog with some process pictures and a giveaway at the bottom...


  4. Thanks! Great post and really helpful info for decal work. Looking forward to trying out some of the techniques!


  5. great post, thanks for sharing.

  6. Great post! Great work Mary!
    What great details! Who knows I might try it yet! If I do I will be sure to post pics!

  7. Natalie, Wondering how you got the great butterfly color in the first picture. Was it a color laser or hand painted?

  8. Hi Melinda,

    That's a commercial decal. I got it from instar decals: instardecals.com

    These are fired at a much lower cone than the homemade decals. That's because they are made with china paints. The butterfly one was done with a laser printer because if you examine it closely, you will see the dots.

    Some commercial decals are hand painted, though.

    The commercial decals fire at a much lower cone than the homemade laser printer decals. The range for a commercial decal is usually between 015 and 018, though. The more pinks, the hotter the cone.

    I believe I fired that butterfly to cone 016 though.

    Decals are a ton of fun and many ceramic artists are combining them with all sorts of glazing techniques.

    Have fun! :)


  9. Natalie,
    Thanks for the link to Instar Decals and the firing info. What a selection they have! Joan Miller posted a site on CAF that offered this info.

    Iron Oxcide toner/ptrs
    Apple, Hewelett Packard & Dell- (prints light ink tone), but NEC and Brother do not work. Others should be tested. Anyone know if what color lasers work?

    Thanks again! Melinda

  10. Thank you for all the wonderful comments and info. I am glad that we could collaborate and do this post. Don't forget to check out the Marsha Neal Studio post for more info and a giveaway.

  11. Great job on this post Mary! I especially like how it highlights how creative decals can be in the hands of three different artists.

    Sorry Melinda, color laser won't work. LaserJet is what you need to get toner with iron oxide. I have an HP.

  12. This is an excellent post. Everyone's work is so beautiful. Thanks.

  13. Hi Melinda,

    I'm using a Hewelett Packard Laser Jet 1020.

    One of my problems is that I have a lot of trouble getting the decal to stick to the round surface of the bead. On commercial decals, the plastic is a bit more pliable, but this plastic on this decal waterslide paper that I've been using is at times 'stiff' and is difficult to work with.

    Is the solution to use these things only on flat surfaces? Or I wonder if I just got a bad batch?

    Anyway I was thinking about this because I pulled some out of the kiln yesterday and again, much of the decal did not stick to the bead. Poor little daisies are missing entire petals or leaves.

  14. Great Blog, love this article!
    Thank you, Matt

  15. I've never tried decals...but maybe Elmer's glue would help it stay put til the glaze warms up. With glass fused jewelry we used it to keep things in place til the glue burns off and glass fuses...Just thinking out loud here...


  16. Melinda thanks ... I tried that once and I need to give it another try because he last time I must have applied the glue too thickly. I need to dissolve some in a bit of water and only apply enough to make the bead tacky.

    I also resized some of my daisies making them smaller so they will fit the bead better. I'll be firing those in a couple of days.

    These homemade decals are exciting but (for me) they sure can be frustrating.

  17. Natalie, I just read on http://www.imdceramics.com/html/p_f.html, that the hotter the water you dip your decal in, the more flexible it becomes. Maybe it will help?

  18. Such a great article! Thank you!
    I just got my HP 1006 a couple weeks ago and should be ready to do some decals pretty soon.

  19. The designs are really great, i'm a big fan of China ceramics.

  20. I also use the laser printed decals in my work and have for quite some time. I am also a member of BOC. You can see some examples of my work with these decals at


    many of the cabs are decorated with the transferred design then hand painted to enhance the design with color. You can also see examples in the fantasy and floral categories.

  21. Such a great article...so much to do with clay and never enough time! thanks for sharing!

  22. Great article Mary! & fabulous beads & pendants!!❤ It's on my list of clay things to do! Oh studio be done!!!
    Embracing all the sharing❤

    Many Warm Thanks

  23. Is is absolutely necessary to fire the decals? I have had great success with just putting water slide decals on fired pieces. I printed them on the computer first. They seem to be durable. Anyone have any experience with this?

  24. Finally, I read that the decals are fired to cone 1. YAY! I purchased decals the first year I joined BOC (when was that???) I have a package of 50 sheets (praying they don't go bad over time) and I have wanted to use them SO BAD.. I have no idea what is stopping me.
    Thank you all for this wonderful BLOG POST so that I can get a clear,easy reference when I get ready to use those decals! YAY!


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