Let's do 'xperiments!

Firefighter mugFor a while now I've wanted to find a different/better way to do something. Over a year ago I did these firefighter mugs, and for the most part I am happy with them except that on a couple of the letters, I had more paint on the brush than on other parts of the letters and you can see where the paint ran a bit in the firing. One thing I can't control is what happens to a piece in the firing, and it makes me sad and a little stressed out to work hard on a piece and then find out after the final stage of making it that it's not perfect (and I know that perfect is the enemy of finished, but even if things aren't "made by a machine" perfect I do still like to produce a piece that people can be proud of showing off).

Custom baby cups So I decided I wanted to find a better way to give myself a more even line, more control, so I could make items and personalize them. Then I found these bisque baby mugs, and since my friends keep having babies I thought they would make neat gifts... There's a reason you only see one side of that baby mug - the other side looked horrible. I was trying this new technique (for me) which is sort of like a ... gel paint in a tube; it's got an opening on one end like a glue bottle, and you squeeze the bottle at the same time you're going over what you've drawn in pencil, and that gives you a more controlled line than you'd get with a paintbrush. HAHAHAHAHAHA. "More controlled" .... whatever.

HaldeCraft travel mugs Because next I tried these travel mugs, and ... well, that didn't work out well. Mostly because the paint smeared when I glazed the mug, and I decided that was a failure. I wasn't sure if I wasn't giving the paint enough time to dry before glazing...? I waited about 24 hours, but still... anyway, I wasn't happy with them, and rather than make more (even though a lot of people expressed interest in buying a mug with a HaldeCraft logo) I gave them away to two good friends who I trusted wouldn't make too much fun of them.

Another thing that didn't make me overly happy with these is that the logo doesn't look exactly like my logo (the paint was just not easy to work with and I wound up having to make the "H" black instead of standing out in white), and my letters had to be very large in order to have space to write without it being a solid black mess.

I started thinking that there must be some sort of pen or something, something that would do better. After all, Etsy is ripe with mugs that have quotes from books or personalized drawings and... there must be a way to do it, right? I'm just looking in the wrong place? I think I've expounded on this before, because my stepmother Barbara took pity on me and found me this link on underglaze writing. And that might have worked, except I was gun-shy from my previous experiences of things smearing when glazed. I also considered decals, but I've fired decals in the kiln before and not had very positive results. Granted, that was in my old kiln with the wonky temperature control (more by feel than by any sort of actual controlling mechanism). But again... gun shy.

Research (in the form of one of the only actual helpful links on Pinterest) led me to Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Markers and Saral Wax-Free Transfer Paper. I bought some, and it looks like this may be the answer to what I've been looking for!

Here we have me practicing, on one of those good-morning mugs that didn't fare too well in the kiln:

Transfer paper trial piece

And here's what it looked like after I followed over the lines with the fine pen, and filled in with the broad pen:

Transfer paper experiment, stage two

The next step will be later today. It needs to sit and air-dry for 24 hours (I did this around lunchtime yesterday) and then it goes in the oven (not the kiln, but the oven) for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. That will burn off the red from the transfer paper, and seal the ink. After that I'm going to experiment with hand-washing, running it through the dishwasher, and microwaving. If it passes all three of those tests...? HALDELOGOS ON EVERYTHING. Also, customization city, here we come!

As an aside, here's something interesting I noticed after writing this post and reading through it before publishing -- some of you probably already know I have a tendency to be short-tempered with things that don't work when I think they should (HULK SMASH). When the firefighter mugs didn't turn out 100% perfect, I said "I don't understand why this didn't work, I should know what I'm doing, but clearly I don't so I'm not doing this again." ... Then I did the baby mug, which didn't turn out, and I said "I don't understand why this didn't work, I should know what I'm doing, but clearly I don't so I'm not doing this again." ... Then I did the travel mugs, which really didn't turn out, and I said "I don't understand why this didn't work, I should know what I'm doing, but clearly I don't so I'm not doing this again." ... and yet, I still kept trying to find a way to make it work. Which means either I'm [long term] more patient than I think I am, or at least more tenacious.

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Thank you! All the red from the transfer paper washed off, and other than the ink not looking evenly applied it looks fantastic finished! I’ve washed it by hand, scrubbed it, and last night we ran it through the dishwasher. Later today when I unload the dishes (wheee! fun!) I’ll take another picture.


That mug looks awesome!


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