Creating and applying transfers for ceramics is not a very difficult process. All you need is a strong design and the capacity to fulfil our minimum order requirements. Although McMasters is more than happy to handle the entire process of printing, applying and firing your transfers, should you wish to apply your own, this tutorial demonstrates how:

Things to know before you start

  • Ceramic transfers can be applied to ceramics that have already been glazed and fired.
  • Transfers can be made up in an almost limitless range of colours, including metallics.
  • Your artwork can be a simple one-colour design, or it can be full photographic half tone.

Step 1 - Get transfers made

After you've settled on a design, have your artwork made into colour separated silkscreen positives. Give the positive to J T McMaster, and select the colours you want to use.

Step 2 - Cut out and sort

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, carefully cut the images from each transfer sheet. Cut fairly close to the edges of the images, but not so close that the image becomes very flimsy.

Step 3 - Float transfers

When you're ready to place your transfers on ceramics, put each cut-out transfer into a dish of water. Keep tweezers handy to get them out again. It doesn't take long for the transfer to loosen from the backing paper. In fact, it's important that they don't soak too long, or they'll lose their backing glue.

Step 4 - Apply transfers to ceramics

Slide the transfer from the backing paper onto the plate. The transfer is still pretty slippery at this stage, so it's easy to slide around and place. However, don't do too much sliding around, as you'll lose the backing glue.

Step 5 - Remove water

It is important to remove all the water from the plate and get rid of any air or water bubbles behind the transfers. Use fingers to smooth out wrinkles, then sponge away water and air bubbles. This part of the process is fiddly, as it's very easy to shift the transfers at this stage.

Step 6 - Fixing the transfers

Before firing, allow the transfers to dry for a day. Different transfers require different firing temperatures, so be sure to check with J T McMaster to make sure what temperature you should fire at. As a rule, ceramic transfers fire at 780°C or cone 016 and glass at 580°C or cone 021.