Are you wanting to try a new technique but don’t know where to start!? I got you covered, friends! This process might seem intimidating, but I’ll run through step by step to show you how easy it can be!! Check out the tutorial video here!! You can use this transfer process on plates, tumblers and MORE!
Start by throwing (or hand building) your favorite form. I find for the first few attempts, it’s easier to transfer on forms that have more of a flat surface. Once you get the hang of it, you can get the feel for applying on more curved surfaces. I use Standard Red Earthenware 103 for my clay body. It’s super smooth and easy to throw with (and it doesn’t have any grog to beat your hands up!) Plus I really enjoy the contrast between the terra cotta clay and the white slip background. You can obviously use whatever clay body you’d like and can use a colored slip background of your choosing. Get creative, there’s no wrong or right!!
Now it’s time to work on the newsprint transfer design while your trimmed pots become leather hard. I like to work on a bunch of pieces at once to form an “assembly line” of sorts.
After you decide what design you’d like to make, you’ll outline it with black underglaze on the piece of newsprint paper. I find it’s helpful to use a slip trailer to make thin lines. (Remember if you’re writing out any words, you’ll want to make sure you apply them backwards on the paper.) It’s easiest to get a cheap light board to be able to trace your images backwards with ease! (This is the one I have and love it!) I usually make a large quantity of these designs and stock them away.
After your outline is completely dry, it’s time to add your slip! Working from the foreground to the background, I add colors to the leaves and flowers. Once you’ve applied all of the colors, you’ll let it dry until it has a satin sheen appearance. (Unlike the underglaze, you will not want to let the slip dry out completely because it will be more prone to crack when applied to your pot.)
To finish the application, you’ll cover the entire piece of newsprint paper with a white slip (or whatever color you’d like for your background). Again, wait until the surface has a satin sheen, and you’re ready to apply it on your pot!
You’ll want to have flexible rubber rib (I find the Red Sherrill Mud Tool Rib works the best to get around some curvy surfaces without tearing apart your paper.) Place one hand inside your pot for stability, and place your paper on the outside of the pot with the other. I find its easier to use your fingers to gently rub the paper down on your pot working from the center out, and then using the rib tool to transfer the image onto the pot. Make sure to go over the paper a few times to really get the image to be a crisp as possible.
Here comes the exciting part- revealing your design!
When slowly pulling the paper off the pot, if you see some of the design didn’t fully transfer, place the paper back down on the surface and go over it again with your rib tool until it successfully transfers.
VOILA! You have a beautiful design magically transferred onto your hand thrown (or hand built) pot!!
I learned this process in a fantastic book called “Graphic Clay” by Jason Burnett. Included in the book is Jason’s recipe for his slip body (it’s amazing!!) You can also get amazing inspiration from Catie Miller- her pieces are STUNNING!