Making Underglaze Decals

Written by jennifer moore
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Making Underglaze Decals
Add underglaze decals to your ceramics, and then glaze or paint them. (ceramic vase image by ann triling from

Ceramic decals add detail to ceramic pieces and come in many different styles. Underglazed decals come in sepia, black and white or full colours. Decals fuse at cone 016 to 018 on ceramics and at cone 014 to 017 on stoneware or porcelain. You can choose ready-made decals in appropriate styles, or make your own using either a laser or inkjet printer. They can all be painted afterward with china paint, gold or lustre paint after the fusing process. Depending on the painting glaze, some will require a second firing while others won't. The cone settings for the after glazes are specified on the glaze you use.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Decals
  • Squeegee
  • Kiln
  • Glazes
  • China paint
  • Lustre paint

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    Using Ready-Made Decals

  1. 1

    Remove the waxed paper that comes on top of the decal and trim it to the appropriate size. Soak the decal in warm water for a minute or two.

  2. 2

    Clean your ceramic piece with ,a damp, clean cloth. Wipe excess moisture away with a paper towel.

  3. 3

    Remove the decal and check to see if it slides on the backing paper. When this happens, it is ready to mount on the ceramic piece.

  4. 4

    Place the decal and backing paper on the ceramic surface and slowly slide the backing paper out from under the decal. Re-position the decal as necessary, and squeegee the decal from the centre out to remove air bubbles and wrinkles. Use the squeegee several times, and allow the ceramic piece to dry for 24 hours.

  5. 5

    Fire the piece again. Glaze your ceramic piece with a clear or light-coloured glaze and fire the piece again, using the time specified on the glaze you use.

    Designing Your own Underglaze Decal

  1. 1

    Print out the decal you designed on your computer in black and white on either a laser or inkjet printer. The type of printer you should use depends on the type of decal paper you bought and whether it is made for inkjet printers or laser printers. Cut the image from the decal paper as close to the outer lines as possible.

  2. 2

    Place the decal in warm water for about a minute until the decal begins to slide off the backing paper, and apply the decal to the ceramic piece as you did in Step 4 of Section 1.

  3. 3

    Fire your ceramic piece. After you fire the ceramic piece you can add colour using china paint wash, lustres, overglazes or enamel. Some of these finishes may require another firing--follow the glaze's instructions.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also scan or use images from your digital camera for your decals.

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