I thought I would blog about one of the projects I will be completing during my time at The Union. Slip transfer tiles start with an image reversed on a photo copy machine, so that the image is white on a black background.
Black mason stain is used to paint in all the white detail. Ideally the stain will not stick to the slick black surface and only fill in the white detail. Still, it's wet stain on paper so it's best to work quickly and neatly.
Once the stain is dried the whole paper is dipped face down into thick white slip. This is when it starts to get a bit tricky because everything is wet and easily smeared.
After the paper is removed from the slip it is carefully layer out on a plaster slab for faster drying. You don't want it to dry completely. Just from a wet glossy finish to a matte finish, making it easier to handle. I have had many fails before getting the hang of it.
This is applied directly to the freshly rolled out tiles, face down onto the clay.
I use a low fire terra cotta clay for my tiles. I like the color contrast of the bright white slip on the dark red clay.
Now your transfers have to dry completely which means that your tiles are drying as well. Carving needs to be done before the clay gets too hard. A nice leathery dry is good for clean carving.
Air bubbles can be removed by poking the paper with a pin and pushing down with your finger.
Now we wait. Once the paper starts to dry it will start to pull away from the clay and curl up along the edges. Paper must be completely dry to lift up off the tile.
This should reveal a clean and crisp image. Imperfections can be cleaned up by brushing on extra white slip to fill in corners. I actually like the imperfect finish. It gives it an aged look. Now they are ready to fire. So many steps and they can be frustrating but once you get the hang of it, it goes along pretty smoothly and you have lovely decorative tiles to hang on your walls.