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.



Cynthia said...

Good post - a few of us were just discussing said ware and how it can be durable if it rubs/scratches off.

You did answer one of my questions about overglaze...

And, thank you for all the info you put out to the world.

Ant said...

My first thought when I see these baked-on wares is "if the stuff comes off with use, and you are eating it, how toxic is this??"

I personally don't want to eat glaze materials. Even really good baked on glaze materials.

LaPellaPottery said...

If you fire it hotter, the paint bubbles up and turns brownish. The pens I have (bought 2 years ago when they first came out) say not to use where they will be in contact with food.

They are a crafter's product - not a professional's product. We only use them to give out with finished pieces when the finished pieces will be signed by guests at a party or something.

[nancy + andy] said...

Oooo What was your question about overglazes? You piqued my curiosity (there's that word again...)

You know, I was going to write something about how we think the public is lead astray by misinformation put forth a bit by the media, like design bloggers, magazines, and separatists with loud creaky voices in the ceramics/pottery community - like that. But then I realized that's two totally different schools of thought.

With the markers, it's kinda like DIY took a bad turn somewhere with ceramics and the average consumer doesn't give a shit - And the designer decorators know that, and take advantage of it. Most consumers probably think clean look & the price point - Maybe a bonus thought of 'hey, I'm supporting an indie artist!'

I have more of an appreciation for ceramists that use the overglaze with the commercial ware, because they at least have an understanding of the ceramic process.

And the separatists, well, that's another blog post altogether :)


[nancy + andy] said...

Lpp - Which colours did you try?
I think we're going to crack some open to peek inside after we've used them.

Now, and this is a reply question to you too Ant, do you think they say not to come in contact with food because of possible scratching off with utensils (durability liability issue) or do you think it's a toxicity thing? Cus they never really come out and say it, you know?

I got this off another suppliers website:

""Pebeo Porcelaine 150 Paints Markers -
Use your kitchen oven! Colors for decorating china, glass, porcelain, ceramic, metal. Durable high-gloss finish. Transparent color for true glazed effects. Waterbased, dishwasher safe, microwave safe, non-toxic glaze.

Paint comes in markers -- markers provide control for drawing designs and is a fun and easy method to apply application. Water-based colors stay water soluble until baked and thus, you can easily make corrections with warm water before baking. Apply Porcelaine 150, let dry 24 hours, oven bake at 300°F (150°C) in domestic oven to permanently fix color.

Colors can be mixed together. Have fun creating using markers, paint with brush, and outliners. Clean-up with water. Colors are resistant to dishwashing after baking.

Made in France. Conforms to ASTM D-4236, no health labelling required. Food contact is not a health hazard, but not recommended for direct contact of food/drink storage.""

I cannot WAIT to get these freaking markers!


Cynthia said...

Since last summer when I read Paul Scott's Book and actually talked with Paul Wandless on the phone after blogging about him, I've been on the search for food safe overglazes so that I could try my hand at screen printing. Everything I've found is lead based, except for a water based product that isn't recommended for screening decals.

I know there has to be a product out there since commercial decal manufacturers are making decals for use on dinnerware.

I guess I haven't had the motivation until recently to begin my search again since I've been handpainting a lot of ware and realizing how time consuming it is.

If I could just make the original art, then screen, it would make the process so much faster and I wouldn't have to rely on a transparent glaze so that you can see the underglaze painting underneath. Happy happy joy joy.

I do think that after people buy this work and encounter usage problems after a period of time, the seller will begin to get lots of feedback that might change their methods.

[nancy + andy] said...

Screening will bring another dimension to your work for sure - I will still argue that it isn't any faster. One example would be extra firings depending on your image complexity & colour usage - And as with any artisan medium, the level of quality you have will dictate how much faster it seems (and I am referring to functional ware, not art pieces).

When we first started, all I did was paint. And they were CRAZY detailed pieces too, and we were charging so little for them - I now wish I could find some of these people and buy them back!


Little Flower Designs said...

nancy, great post! i used the paints(not markers) a zillion years ago to doodle on commercial tile and they do scratch off with use - or bubble if over baked. although it sais non-toxic, i would be cautious with anything that smelled as toxic as these paints - stinky! but i would LOVE to find a real glaze or underglaze pen/marker that works. have you tried the potter's pens? any luck?? i have a few and can't get them to flow...
and i'm with you on potter's making their own wares : )
best, linda


very interesting... keep us posted...grrr.
what is the show coming up?!