Ceramic Decals: New Ideas and Techniques – DVD
Decals are a great way to spice up your surface decorations. Used for centuries, decals provide a simple way add complex decorative images, patterns and text repeatedly to a ceramic surface. But if you’re thinking that we’re talking about adding roses, angels, or cute little animals to your pots, think again. Justin Rothshank is one of several New Age potters who have taken decalcomania into the 21st century. Justin draws on his extensive experimentation with decals to explain the ins and outs of using them to decorate ceramic art. Over the years, he has pushed the limits of this medium, trying any technique he could think of in search of fresh and interesting results. From applying iron oxide laser decals to leather-hard work and using them in a soda firing, to layering them with commercial decals, Justin shares a wide range of techniques and effects.
Justin loves to use decals because they allow you to tell a story through imagery and words. Through his experimentation, he has taken traditional techniques such as using laser decals or commercial decals and pushed the limits of how they’re used. He shares his experiences of using decals on glazed ware, bisqueware, and greenware showing what you need to know as far as their limitations and potential are.
One of the popular decal techniques available to potters is using a laser printer with a high iron oxide toner cartridge. First discovered years ago, this technique is both readily accessible and easy to do using standard decal paper and a laser printer. Justin leads you through the entire process including how to manipulate your images in Photoshop and effectively apply them to the ceramic surface. He also covers commercial decals he gets from decal companies and off of eBay. If you’ve ever been curious about how to use decals in general, his detailed instructions for applying them will allay any reservations you may have.
Outside the box
Considering the decal as a material whose limits can be pushed in many directions can lead to exciting revelations. Justin learned that combining iron transfers with glazes that have iron in them results in a dark red image, instead of a sepia tone. This is very evident when observing transfers fired onto a black glaze, but it has also been evident in some Shino and celedon glazes he’s used. He also experiments with decals under layers of glaze for some interesting layered effects, as well as using them on soda-fired and wood-fired pieces.
About Justin Rothshank
Prior to moving back to his hometown of Goshen, Indiana, in 2009, to become a full-time studio potter, Justin Rothshank cofounded the Union Project, a nonprofit arts organization located in Pittsburgh, PA. Justin’s ceramic work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally, including articles in Pottery Making Illustrated, Ceramics Monthly, American Craft and Studio Potter. Justin was presented with an Award of Excellence by the American Craft Council in February 2009, and in 2007, he was recognized by Ceramics Monthly as an Emerging Artist. He has also been a presenter, panelist, visiting artist, and artist-in-residence at numerous universities, schools, conferences, and art centers throughout the United States and abroad.
A Review by Sumi von Dassow
In Ceramic Decals; Justin Rothshank covers what is essentially a very simple method of making your own decals, taking advantage of the fact that laser printer ink contains large amounts of iron oxide. Rothshank discusses which laser printers to choose, how to find out if the ink contains enough iron, what kind of decal paper to use and where to get it, how to manipulate images and print them onto the decal paper, and, of course, how to apply these decals to your pottery. The resulting image is only one color, black or rust-colored if applied to white glazed ware, so your imagery needs to be carefully chosen. This is an ideal way to print a black-and-white photograph, text, or a line drawing onto a piece of pottery, but you can use any imagery that can be rendered in black and white. One of the things Rothshank touches on in this DVD is how to use Photoshop to manipulate imagery. Rothshank has explored layering decals, firing them multiple times, applying them on glaze and on bare clay, and using them on work fired in a variety of atmospheres including on wood-fired work. Rothshank also uses commercial decals in combination with laser decals to add color and discusses how to use them and where to get them. The end of this DVD includes firing suggestions and lists of suppliers and materials.