Wednesday, 8 October 2014

WOYWW 279: Image transfers on ceramic tiles

This week I'm taking part in What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday (WOYWW) again on the Stamping Ground. What you can see on my desk today are the products of my experiments with image transfers onto ceramic tiles.

Experimenting with image transfers onto ceramic tiles
It all started with a little walk around my local town on Saturday, when I spotted a market stall selling similar ceramic tiles with pretty images printed on them. I was immediately intrigued and quizzed the seller about the process. I felt a little bad, since I had no intention of buying anything at all - I was just desperate to find out how to make them, but the seller didn't seem to mind my questions.

She told me she printed the images on regular printer paper and stuck them face down on the tiles and removed the top layer of the paper by rubbing it off, leaving the printed design behind. I'm actually familiar with this image transfer technique, but I've never tried it on ceramic tiles. I got some sample tiles from B&Q (which is a DIY chain in the UK) and set out to do some experimenting!

Method 1
I first tried using matte gel medium, but it did not work! The acrylic medium just pealed off the tile when I tried to rub the paper off even after letting it dry overnight. My next bet was Mod Podge which did the trick! I managed to transfer the image, but it was too labour intensive and I had to be very careful not to rub off bits of the image with the paper. It did rub off a little around the edges, so I distressed it all around on purpose.

Method 2
I'm glad to report that I've found a much easier solution! You can print your image on tissue paper and stick it directly onto the tile and seal it to make it waterproof, or  at least water resistant. I've tried this with both Mod Podge and gel medium and it seems to work with both substances, though I prefer the results with Mod Podge. I think it seals better than the acrylic medium and the surface is smoother.

Rubbing method

All paper residue needs to be removed to get a clear image

Best results with ModPodge using the iron-on method

Just imagine the possibilities using this technique! You can print your own photos, your own artwork, or public domain images to make gifts, coasters, wall hangings, home decor items, etc. You could even decorate your kitchen or bathroom with your own custom made tiles! I'm very excited about the endless possibilities!

If you would like to try either of these methods, I'll give you some important pointers:

  • You need an image printed on a laser jet for both of these techniques to work. If you haven't got a laser jet, you can use a photocopy, which is also toner based. This will only work with the rubbing method though, as it may not be possible to copy onto tissue paper.
  • If you're doing the rubbing method, make sure you reverse your image before printing because it goes face down. This is especially important if your image contains letters. (I forgot to reverse my image as you can see above!)
  • In order to print on tissue paper, you need to adhere the tissue onto a carrier sheet (a regular sheet of paper) with double sided tape. Don't use regular scotch tape as this will melt and ruin your printer. 
  • If you are doing the rubbing method, be careful not to rub off important parts of your image (for example the eyes). Wet your fingers and rub gently. If your image has a hazy look it means that some more paper needs to be removed. Rub very gently with wet fingers. You may have to repeat this several times, until your picture is clear.
  • If you're doing the tissue paper method, there's an easy way to avoid wrinkling of the paper. First, put a thin layer of ModPodge on the tile and let it dry completely. Lay the image on top (face up) and gently iron on setting 2 using a piece of backing paper on top (to avoid getting glue on your iron). The glue will melt and the tissue paper will stick entirely flat! Just add a couple of layers of ModPodge on top to seal it and it's ready!
I hope you found this tutorial useful! Have fun creating your own image transfers onto ceramic tiles!

The image I used to demonstrate this technique is a public domain image of a painting by Leonardo daVinci. I'd like to say thanks to one of the deskers from last week for the idea, who used a similar image in her project. Unfortunately, I can't remember her name. If it was you, please let me know and I'll update my post! 

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