Potters & Sculptors - Making Rock from Mud
Some of you are already aware that you can use grease pencils or Crayola crayons to make designs or drawings on white copy paper which can then be transferred in the same manner as photo-copies to an engobe coated clay. But what you may not know is that in addition to using stains or oxides to coat the paper or photo-copy design you are going to transfer, you can also use underglazes alone or combined with stains or oxides to achieve a transfer. Also new is the fact that a black and white copy made on the color copier is the easiest and most efficient way to transfer your images!
If I am using a photograph to transfer print, I like to take my own. I also like to create my own word collages and drawings for the process. The images must be true black and white (no grey tones) and work better if copied in black and white on a commercial Color copier. The remaining white areas of the paper are coated with either underglazes or a red iron oxide mixture and allowed to dry. They can be refreshed with a fine mist spray when the clay surface is ready. The clay surface is coated with an even engobe coating and allowed to set up till it is finger touch dry - the surface goes matte - then the prepared image is placed face down on the engobe coated surface, misted from the back and evenly rolled until the image starts to show thru the back of the paper. A corner can be lifted to check on the progress and it can be lightly misted several times during this transfer process.
My past findings…
In early March 2006, I made black and white copies of detailed drawings on a COLOR copier instead of the commercial drum-style copier. I then successfully transferred my pre-coated copies onto the set-up engobe (Pilcher’s Slip) by re-wetting the copy only from the back. COLOR copies of highly-detailed black and white drawings are easier to coat & transfer so much better than the same copies made on a regular drum-style copier. Copies made with an ink jet printer don’t work at all.
I discovered that the pre-coated COLOR photo-copies 'kept' very well and that being able to pre-coat copies, let them dry and store them flat really cuts down on the time I have to spend when actually transferring. I only need to place the pre-coated COLOR copies in a damp box or on a damp towel covered with plastic, then very lightly mist the surface a few times to refresh them before using them for transfer printing. Once positioned on the engobe coated clay surface, I lightly mist and compress the copy from the back until the image starts to show.
The black and white copies made on the color copier are the best!!!! (The paper used for color copies is much heavier and the intensity of the resist black ink areas considerably more dense, so it is much easier to ‘work’ the paper without it tearing.) The black areas on these copies resist better than the ones made on a regular drum-style copier and I have been able to coat the copies with commercial Duncan & Amaco underglazes in addition to RIO*. I even coated one copy with a white underglaze and transfer printed to a purple underglaze coating (instead on an engobe coating) on the clay surface.
The other great thing about these ‘Color Copier’ copies is the weight of the paper used and the fact that I can get away with lightly misting the copy repeatedly from behind (once it is in place on the clay surface) and use my fingertips or a pony roller to impress the image onto a not leatherhard, set-up clay slab which has been coated with an engobe, clay slurry or underglaze dry to the touch on the surface. If you don’t have a fine mist bottle, you can also use a wetted sponge. The image gradually appears through the back side of the paper and it is then that I know the transfer is complete. Not only does it transfer to an engobe or underglaze coated surface, it transfers to the raw clay as well as long as the surface has been coated with a slurry made from the clay itself.
PREPPING the copies - When I coat the COLOR black & white copies with RIO* (red iron oxide) I mix the RIO with Red Art clay and CMC** water to prevent flaking and smearing. When I use underglazes such as Duncan EZ Stroke Cobalt jet black to coat, I sometimes have to thin them down to a good consistency. If the coating sticks to the black areas of the copies when applying it needs to be thinned, if brush strokes are apparent on the white areas, the coating is too thin.
*RIO for Transferring
Use 3 parts RIO to 1 part Red Art Clay and mix with CMC water to a light cream consistency.
Place 1 tablespoon of CMC in a container and gradually add 1.5 quarts (48 ounces) of hot water. To really get a good mix use a blender. ( I use CMC because it adds hardness to the finish, keeping smears to a minimum while I’m building pots.)
Barbara Hanselman, 1119 Warren Avenue, Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08002-3260 BHCIaysmith@gmail.com