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Overview  |  Clay slab  |  Underglaze  |  Background  |  Ink Preparation  |  Frame  |  Squeegee  |  Image transfer

  • Photo silk-screening is an adaptation of the screen printing technique for application of photographic images onto clay slabs for use in construction of decorated ceramic objects. In silk-screening, a finely woven fabric or mesh is stretched across a frame to support an ink-blocking impermeable stencil.
  • The stencil is a negative of the image to be printed with open spaces where the ink will appear by means of transfer of ink or paint onto a substrate below. The ink is rolled or squeegeed across the stencil to force it through the mesh threads onto the clay printing surface.
  • In photo silk-screening, the photographic image is used to create the stencil. The image is transferred to a clear acetate film. The film is laid over a screen mesh that has been treated with light-sensitive material. By exposing the screen to light, the photographic image is reproduced on the mesh. The mesh in turn is then used as the stencil in the silk-screen process for transferring the image to the clay slab beneath.

Clay slabs rolled out.

  • Clay slabs are rolled out in preparation for the photo silk-screen process.
  • These clay slabs will be used in hand building for purposes of forming and joining flat clay pieces together to create a three-dimensional ceramic art object.
  • This form of prior embellishment of the clay surfaces by means of the photo silk-screen process expands the range of artistic creative possibilities.

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Underglaze prepared for application to clay slab as background.

  • Underglazes are mixed preliminarily to their use for coloration in the printing process.

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Clay slab with background color applied.

  • Background colors are applied to the clay slabs. They are blow dried before the silk-screen process can proceed.

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Clay slabs with background coloring applied.

  • To enhance the complexity of the background, clay slabs can also be rolled out, as shown here, for the application of various combinations of underglazes in layers.
  • This provides both depth and a feeling of woven fabric to serve as the background for the silk-screened image that will be overlaid later in the creative process.

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Underglazes being prepared.

  • A number of different underglazing combinations are developed for use as the "ink" for the silk-screening process.

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Clay slab on a wooden board.

Silk-screen frame in place and braced.

  • The precolored clay slabs are readied by placing them on a board which will be positioned beneath the silk-screen frame.
  • A photographic image is applied to an acetate film and the film is attached to the light-sensitized mesh on the silk-screen frame. When exposed to uniform light, the image is transferred to the mesh, where it will be ready for inking.
  • The frame is braced in place over the clay slab.

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Squeegee loaded with underglaze.

  • A squeegee loaded with underglaze is set to apply the "ink" to the surface of the prepared mesh screen.
  • This will force the coloration through the mesh, previously embedded with the negative photoimage, onto the surface of underlying slab of clay. The process will thereby create a positive image of the original photograph on the clay slab.

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Squeegeed underglaze spread over mesh surface.

  • The underglaze is being squeegeed onto the screen mesh over the area where the negative image has been placed previously, thereby coloring the surface of the clay beneath with a positive image.

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Silk-screen frame elevated to show underlying clay slab with image on its surface.

  • As the frame is lifted, it reveals the clay slab beneath now embellished with a colored copy of the original photoimage.

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Illustrations of embellsihed clay slabs.

  • Underglaze is applied to the mesh. The underglaze acts as an ink that is forced through the mesh by means of a roller or squeegee onto the underlying clay slab.
  • The photographic image is thereby imparted to the surface of the clay slab.
  • Various images are applied in various colors for depth and interest.
  • The decorated slab will then be used in the construction process for hand building. In this process, the slabs will be used as box templates to be cut, scored and slipped together to form the base for a three-dimensional ceramic object. The ones illustrated here will form a box to serve as the base for the Tubular Sereis piece called Tea-Th Fairy. The box will be open on both sides, while the lid will double as bed legs.

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