Tuesday, May 27, 2008
well, I never!
But I am. Soon.
[This is a Nancy Ranting Post. Enjoy.]
We always get emails or conversations on Etsy about how we make our decals - This past somber holiday weekend (I could not bring myself to say 'Happy Memorial Day!' - I think people forgot why it's called Memorial Day) was no exception - we got 5. And actually, decals are not even an operative word for some people; "How DO YOU get those images on there?" Most kids that contact us are in school, or other ceramists/potters or designers (and if you're reading this and we answered your email or convo - How's it going? Let us know!)
When we say we screen our decals (there's 2 key operative words) using Print Gocco and overglazes (another key word) , the buyer is never the person who contacts us asking 'Wha?!?!'
It's always a comrade :)
And, yes, I tend to get a bit upset at first, wondering about the Googling/online searching skills of these people - We did it, we learned, why the f*ck can't you? I like the preface many use: 'I just did a LOAD of searching online, and I still can't get a handle on this Gocco decal overglaze stuff!' And how they think we're going to sit and type out how we do what we do - Because, you know, I have all this time. And then they rarely write back to say thanks (one young lady did write back to say thanks this weekend, which was nice.)
Manners, people - MANNERS.
It's not easy, it gets better, it can be expensive, you'll love it once you learn it and it'll change your craft forever having this option. But I am not a teacher. Andy's another story - But I answer these convos & emails folks, so fear me.
I tend to keep explanations short now and just send them to Amazon to get Ceramics & Print by Paul Scott - It was our first foray into this process, and a great 'break-you-in' kinda book, chock full of resources. See how I didn't link it? GOOGLE IT.
So, anyway, being visual people, Andy & I have noticed recently (aside from the clay-slab-leave-the texture-stamp-stain-seal movement) a TON of redecorated tableware - Pieces coming from Crate & Barrel, or Ikea, and there being some sort of decorative element, be it a colour block or illustration. Often, these decorators come with a wonderful illustration career, or interior design cv - But not a bit of ceramics anything (and an 8 week session at your local art-craft school don't quite cut it. You need to feel the pain & joy of a class critique. Seriously.)
Hence the ware marker. We see it on Martha's Blog, on Craft: and elsewhere - We believe it's the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paint Markers.
I can appreciate the appeal of this product - You can use it while watching Curb Appeal or Iron Chef - and am *extremely* curious as to the application onto commercially manufactured ware. I know of many ceramists, like us, who screen their own decals - But they fire them onto commercially made ware, whereas we, patient reader, make our own (shocking, but oh so painfully true.) We still think about how easy it would be, to buy a pallet of diner blanks for a quarter each, if not less. Yeah, there'll be loss of the first few, maybe dozen mugs, but as with everything, one would learn the nuances of the ware, the glaze, etc.
But that's where, for us, we'd lose the fun (hate to disappoint, but it is still fun) and process of making our ware, and being able to say we made it - Yep, there's the pride. I digress.
So I am curious about this marker. We knew a woman who used to do The Holiday Show in Bucktown when we first started participating in more events, around 2002-2003, and she used them on porcelain ornaments. She'd have these pieces with her hand-drawn caricatures, and then for an extra dollar or two, she'd add your name. Customers would come back to pick up their pieces, and we'd hear her say 'Just bake it in your oven @ 350, and you'll be set - Instructions in the bag'.
So we're going to order a slew of these markers, and try them out. I am especially interested in the surface application onto plates. The overglaze pigments we use are from a company that makes them for tableware manufacturers like Pfaltzgraff & Lenox - Good quality pigments that screen really well (providing of course, good image + well exposed screen, properly measured and mixed batch of overglaze).
Here's what Pebeo says briefly about ware usage after application:
Avoid use of strong, abrasive cleaners such as steel scouring pads, and sharp cutting implements such as stainless steel knives, which may leave scratches on the surface and make it more difficult to clean.
We want to know if it comes off with time - Kinda like the Cafe Press cups we see on Flickr from time to time - All faded and scratched off. That would be the Dye Sublimation at it's cheapest. Or worse yet - artwork made with a permanent magick marker (not so permanent on a vitrified surface - please do not handle).
We also want to know if it can be fired (dear baby Jesus, not baked) a bit hotter to sink it into the glaze. Much destruction will ensue, but it's for the good of, well, progress. We're going to try it on commercial ware, and on our ware, and we'll post results as they go. Should be a blast, especially in a year or less, depending on the rate of deterioration in using them on a daily basis.
And all of this playing around whilst preparing for our first big show of the season next month - Tisk, tisk!
Which is stressing us out a bit, due to this bizarre weather we've been having - June here in Chicago has always been a little wishy/washy, and it does affect how people shop & stroll - and lots of our seasoned circuit pals have encountered hellish storm conditions, barely making it out with some salvaged work.