Making a Ceramic Decal from Clay Slip

Clay and Concepts Make a Decal That Blends with Clay Body

A ceramic decal can be made from Concepts and clay slip. A design is printed on paper, covered with slip, and then applied to a clay project before firing.


Using Concepts or similar, paintable, low-fire glaze and paint a design on ordinary newspaper or copier paper. The beauty of this technique is that Concepts glazes come in a huge array of colours, and all colours can be applied at the same time. Let the glaze dry. This step can be done well ahead of time. It won’t hurt to let the glazed images sit. The next step is to cover the design with slip.

Prepare Slip

The best slip to use is a slip that has been mixed and has been sitting for a time. This older slip is thick and smooth, similar to sour creme. Be sure to use slip made from the same clay as the clay of the project. Different clays can repel each other and cause the decal to peel off. Never mix high fire and low fire clays.

Cover Design with Slip

The next step is to spray the design lightly with water. This will help ensure that the slipsticks to the glaze. Cover the glaze-painted design with the slip. Cover the design about a one-half inch all the way around. Use three to five coats, allowing each coat to dry slightly. To avoid repelling of layers, don’t let the coats dry completely. Once all layers have been applied, let the decal dry. For this step, it is important not to let the slip over dry and crack. The back, or slip layer, should be dry but still flexible.

Apply Decal

Wet the back, or slip side, of the decal with water from a spray bottle. Apply the decal, to somewhat wet or leather-hard clay. The clay project can be moistened with water from a spray bottle. Press the decal on firmly and smooth with fingers. Continue smoothing firmly with fingers. Moisten the front side of the decal with a spray bottle. Keep smoothing. When the clay from the decal has adhered to the clay of the project, gently remove the paper.

Finishing Touches

Voila! It appears that the glaze has been directly painted on the clay body. This is a nice option for a repeating image or an intricate image. An easy way to do this is to print the image or images with a printer or copy machine. Then paint over the images with the glaze. A series of decals from a different coloured, but compatible slip may be applied for a mottled look. If the rough-edge of the decal is not desired, apply slip to the edge of the decal and smooth into the clay body.