fired at last

To say that I've had a bit of an interupted year would be putting it mildly! Just as I was kicking off printing before christmas I got the dreaded covid, which put me back a few weeks. Thanks to the fabulous Sue (surface pattern technician at Staffs) I was able to catch up with things and make full use of the print tables. I was able to push my paper print ideas and start to formulate what would become my designs to be translated into ceramic screen printing and producing transfers which could be applied and fired on to ceramic plates and mugs.

At this stage I was ably assisted by Jim (ceramic print technician) who showed me the ropes in printing with the enamels to create sheets of transfers which I could then apply to the ceramic white ware (see images).

Having mixed the colours, we printed a dozen or so A3 sheets, which I was then able to cut up and apply to the ceramics. For those of you that haven't seen the technique before, the transfers are applied by firstly, dropping in to water, this allows the printed film which is applied on top of the colours, to slide away from the backing paper. This allows you to then slide and position the transfer on to the ceramic, taking care to remove any excess water and to smooth out any bubbles under the surface of the transfer. Those of us of a certain age liken this to applying transfers to Airfix kits. 

When dry, the ceramics are then ready to go in to the kiln. They are fired at approx 820 degrees, which is hot enough to see the transfers sink in to the glaze and leave a perfectly smooth finish.

The firing and colour mixing process are not exact, which makes it quite difficult to always get the colours you are trying to achieve. In my first samples (below) the red, yellow and black were fine, but the blue, which was supposed to be more of a Scandi blue, ended up a bit too mauve for me.

I will revisit the colour mixing on the blue to try and resolve this when I can get back in to the print room. I would have liked to have done this by now, but in another delay to my progress I went in to hospital for an appendectomy before easter, which has put me out of action for 4 or 5 weeks. Better now but, timing wise, the print rooms are full with students producing their end of yesar work, so I am taking a back seat for the time being. 

I'm really happy with how my ideas have progressed, from my initial paper mache bowls to the ceramics, I think that the designs and colours have translated really well. Some tweaks here and there, and I think I will have a cool, cohesive collection of designs that, having familiarised myself again, after many years, with the processes involved, I will confident enough to be able to make commercially available.


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