Photolithography on Clay

Here is a project that I thought might interest you as it intrigued me. I sketched a drawing of my sister for a book cover – she loves books and I decided to make her a journal.  I have always wanted to put my drawings onto clay and this method allows for an (almost) seemless image. Sketching on clay is difficult but if you sketch onto paper – then transfer the image onto clay and kiln fire the piece you have essentially a permanent record of your drawings.

Here is the method that I have been experimenting with over the last several weeks:

Step One : Make the Ink, photocopy image, Roll out clay slab
In a small container add 3 parts linseed oil to 2 parts mason stain – stir for about 10-15mins.
Let mixture stand overnight for best results

The mason stain is toxic so PLEASE wear rubber gloves and a dust mask for SAFETY.
Photocopy image on a black and white xerox copier – ink jet will not work as it is the toner that is the ingredient that allows the image to transfer. I recomment copying in reverse (negative) so the image will be right side or positive when place down on the clay.
Roll out slab and let sit until leather hard – overnight.
Take a break and start again in the morning….

 

Step two: list of items required
On a table place 2 pieces of glass – one for your image and one for the ink
2 sponges
In 2 bowls fill with water one large and a smaller container
In the large container of water put a small drop of gum arabic
Have on hand premixed ink, brayer, papertowels, spoon to mix ink, photocopied images and leatherhard clay slab.

As you can see in this photograph the sketch is photocopied reversed so that it will be correct when finished.

Next place about a tablespoon of GUM ARABIC onto the glass set out for the image AND onto the other piece of glass put a line of INK ( STIR first).Smooth out the Gum Arabic over the glass until you have covered the glass in the same approximate area of your image.

Now place the image FACEUP on the glass over the gum arabic. With your fingertips (remember your rubber gloves) gently smooth the gum arabic over top of the image until an even layer all over is applied.

With a papertowel remove the excess gum arabic from around the image and the glass.

Place the brayer over the ink and roll in one direction until the brayer has an even coat of Ink. Now carefully roll onto the image until an even coat is ontop of the image.

Take the wet sponge from the container with the gum arabic and squeeze the water over the image – do not touch the image with the sponge – this is the wash out stage. Now with the other smaller container of just water wet the sponge and ring out until damp. Lightly sponge up the excess water from the image and pat dry over top of the image in the white areas – leaving the darkened areas as much as possible.

DO NOT rub the image as the wet paper will tear – GENTLY pat dry.

 

Step three: Repeat Inking, gumarabic water sponge washing out, patting dry with clean sponge. cleanup arean with papertowel around the image.You should ink and wash out and pat dry – three times.

Step Four: Place image face down onto clay slab.
This is the most difficult part as you must be careful not to rip the wet paper image.

With your fingers or a tool pull up the corner of the image. You only have one chance at this so be careful when placing the image onto the clay. center it carefully. I use a larger slab and just place it in the middle and then cut my clay to size. It is also important that your clay slab is smooth for best results as a clay slab with pit marks or dents will affect your image transfer. Once the image has been placed onto the clay pat down with a clean damp sponge – being careful that the paper does not move on the clay and smudge the ink image. Gently pat removing air bubbles and making sure it is adhered to the clay.

Let dry for about 10 – 20 minutes. With the back of a spoon burnish over the entire area of the image. Once the burnishing is complete you can pull up a corner to see how well your image is transferred – if it needs more burnishing place the corner back down and burnish over the area again. Remove the paper in an upward movement – The paper image must be removed prior to firing in the kiln.I have also noticed the longer it is left to dry on the clay it adheres making it difficult to remove leaving behind paper bits. If this occurs try to remove as much as possible but only leave to dry approximately 20 minutes for best results before burnishing.

I have made a book cover as my sister loves books and I want to make her a journal. I cut the clay to the size and leave to dry before placing in the kiln.

Or watch the video by ceramicsartdaily.org
http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-supplies/ceramic-colorants-ceramic-supplies-2/photo-lithography-on-clay-a-surprisingly-simple-way-to-print-images-on-clay/

Be patient it took me several trys before I got results that I was happy with and still need some more practice with other mason colors and other projects – plates? inspirational messages on cubes ? sculpture?
– Have FUN!! It is endless what you can do with clay!

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15 comments on “Photolithography on Clay

  1. […] 23 Mar Photolithography on Clay […]

  2. rock on! This is a great blog and I couldn’t have said it better!

  3. z8NzGHC3F5 says:

    I want to post quick hello and want to say appriciate for this good article. HKH927nBj6339c

  4. Jolie says:

    thanks to the author for taking his time on this one.

  5. First of all, thanks for posting this! I do have a few questions, though. Once the ware is bisque fired, is the mason stain sintered onto the clay surface like an underglaze? Does it not smudge when glaze is applied? If not do you think it would be preferable to incorporate some clay into the ink to ensure that the ink adheres once fired?

    • Pistrucci says:

      Hey, thanks for the comments and questions. I was worried about smudging as well but found that the ink when applied to leather hard clay absorbed well. I then applied a thinned clear glaze over the entire surface and was very pleased with the results. I applied the glaze with a haki brush which is a very very soft brush- apply lightly allowing the glaze to run over the surface rather than brushing on. You can also dip the piece but I found the brush I used worked great. You do need to apply glaze as the ink will powder and come off of the piece when you bisque fire it. If you apply the ink in the leather hard stage – apply a layer of clear glaze and fire to temperature ( i fired mason stain best black to cone 5 with a clear glaze spectrum 1100) should work fine. If you have any more questions let me know!

  6. This can be my 2nd time for you to your site. Excellent producing each individual time.

  7. This website has some really helpful info on it. Cheers for helping me.

  8. This is very interesting! Great information and it is also very well written. I will bookmark and comeback soon.

  9. Do you glaze the imaged piece when it is at the leather hard, bone dry or at bisque stage?
    Thank you.

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