Ceramic decals: what are they and how are they made? – Exterior Painting Services

Screen-printing is an ancient method of printing invented in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD).  This method of printing called silk-screening, because the mesh used to press the ink through was made of silk.  Silk-screen printing invented in China used primarily to print on cloth, such as silk, cotton, and other fabrics. 



Then approximately 1750 Simon Francois Ravenet who emigrated from France to England, before Simon immigrated he had been seeking a way to decorate ceramic designs using screen-printing.  In England, Simon perfected a process of transferring artistic images to decorate ceramic pieces. 



Simon Ravenet augmented screen-print as a direct printing method and created a non-direct form of printing using a new transfer system.  This new transfer system used a medium constructed from a paper that was water-resistant that had previously been printed with a water-soluble adhesive. 


Simon Ravenet printed the artistic design onto the water-resistant paper on top of the water-soluble adhesive and printed a clear ink over the design. The finished decalcomania then is immersed in water, the adhesive releases from the water-resistant paper leaving a decalcomania sandwiched between the water-soluble adhesive and the final clear coat of ink on the surface of the decalcomanias printed image.   Applying the decalcomania to the surface of the ceramic piece, he wanted to decorate; the adhesive would allow it to adhere to the surface of the ceramic.


Simon Ravenet called this new transfer system a decalcomania.   This new technology imported to the United States in Circa 1865.  Then this process popularized in the United States, during the ceramic decorating craze of the mid-1870s.  In the United States, the word decalcomania abbreviated to the version we use today decal. 


Simon Ravenet had inadvertently invented water-slide off decals except it would be many decades before this new printing system would be use to print decals for promotions and product branding.  Simon Francois Ravenet transfer system is different from the water-slide off decals we use today.  The difference is in the types of inks Simon’s system employed were ceramic inks.


Ceramic inks are employed to produce ceramic water-transfer decals.  The ceramic inks are manufactured by milling the ceramic particles into the ink.  The ceramic particle during the milling process becomes infused with the ink.  This ink is no longer common ink it is now ceramic ink. 


When the ceramic transfer decal is applied to the ceramic piece then the ceramic piece is fired in a kiln the decal transfer becomes a part of the ceramic. Before this new transfer invention all pottery, earthenware, ceramic, and glass were decorated by hand Exterior Painting Services a ceramic paint directly on the piece.  The same process used to cause the ceramic particles infused in the paint, so when the pottery placed in a kiln to fired the pottery the paint or ink literally became one with the pottery.


The question; is this style of printing used today?  Yes, fine china, every day dinnerware, mugs, drinking glasses, as well as industrial products employ ceramic decals.  The industrial uses such as; laboratory test tubes, toilet and lavatory fixtures are decorated this way, too.









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