What Is An Underglaze Decal & Why Would You Use One?

Underglaze decals give unrivalled durability. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of using underglaze decals in ceramics !

What Is Special About Underglaze Decals

Underglaze decals are essentially just like any other type of ceramic decal – they are made by printing a design onto a paper coated with gum.

The big difference with underglaze decals is that they are designed to be fired onto the ceramic at bisque stage (clay that has been fired to harden).

This means that underglaze decals can be a bit more difficult to work with than regular decals, but don’t worry – we will go over everything you need to know!

The Process Of Using Underglaze Decals

1. Design

The first step in using underglaze decals is to create a design.

There are many places where you can find pre-made designs, or you can create your own. If you have any questions, we are here to help on the point of design.

2. Printing

Once you have created your design, you will need to print it onto the paper. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when printing your design:

  • Ensure that the design file is created at a high resolution. Low res files can be difficult to separate into the necessary colour channels cleanly
  • Remember – Ceramic pigments are not as bright as conventional printing inks. Bright pinks are unattainable. Pink pigments in general tend to be duller.

3. Application to Pottery

Now that your decal is ready to go, it’s time to apply it to your pottery. Underglaze decals however are much different in their application than onglaze or inglaze decals. The decals are placed onto the comparatively rougher surface of the bisque ware. 

The first step is to make sure that your pottery is clean and free of any dust or dirt. 

It is then necessary to apply a bisque filler to prepare the surface and effectively make it smooth. Without the presence of this filler the decal will most likely not fire correctly and display faults. A bisque filler is a type of emulsion with solvent and can be purchased from companies such as Ferro colours. 

Once the filler is dried, we have to dampen the area where the decal is to be applied. This is done with a sponge or a brush. Make sure not to soak the area.

Next, we place your decal onto the surface area and gently smooth it out with a squeegee rubber. If there are any bubbles or wrinkles, finally smooth them away with a lint free cloth

Finally, we allow the decal to dry completely before firing your pottery in the kiln at 800 degrees. This firing effectively hardens the decal on, in readiness for the final glazing.

The glaze is either sprayed onto the piece or the plate is dipped in ceramic glaze. The piece is then fired once more to glost temperature of around 1100 degrees.

To learn more, get in touch with us today.

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