Student Research – Rachel Simpson


Step up that clay surface!

As a graphic design student and found it limiting in ceramics that I could not get the quality of the work I wanted without the aid of the computer. Often many students can’t draw by hand in the same fashion that they can on the computer. Here are ways to add images to your ceramic work and take your surfaces to new dimensions.


Photo Lithography

This technique is good for black and white images but can do mid tones as well. Also good for highly detailed images because the process if done right will register every detail and transfer it. It is done with mason stains but is only done in black, sepia and brown. The key to this is the type of ink you print your image with. You will need to print your image on printer paper and it must be printed on a printer that uses toner. Toner ink is generally what is used in a Xerox printer, inkjet printer; this is the printer that just spits out you paper, (there is no ink head moving back and forth across your paper). A laser printer will NOT work for this process.

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Here is a tutorial for the whole process from Ceramic Arts Daily

Roger Herman is a good artist to reference for fresh ideas using this technique


Water based Ink Transfers on Clay

This technique is done with wet clay and an image printed on a Xerox printer, Inkjet printer, this is the printer that just spits out your image. (No ink head moving across your paper). Once the image is printed you can simply press it into wet clay. The image will leave a light transfer and from there you can carve the image away or carve into the clay using your favorite tools. Note: any images with text needs to be printed backwards in order to transfer forwards.

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Here is a tutorial that uses color and shows a finished product to inspire you.

Check out Molly Hatch, she uses this technique in her professional work.


Decal Paper for Ceramics

Here’s the deal, just like a typical sticker you can put on your car window you can do the same for clay. There are three different kinds of decals and all are water slide decals, meaning you soak them after printing to separate them from the paper backing and then place them on the desired already finished surface and fire at specific temperatures to seal in the decal. Here is a link describing all three kinds of decals and all their specific functions.

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Here are some links to companies that you can get decals printed in house from

Meredith Host is an emerging artist that uses decals in her ceramic work