Underglaze tissue ceramic transfer printing was first developed circa 1750 and involved the use of engraved or etched copper plates, from which a wet strength tissue paper was printed with an oxide (commonly cobalt for
blue colour) the famous ‘Willow Pattern’ being the best known example. However skilled engravers are no longer trained or available. The project addresses that issue by introducing the potential of printing the traditional potter’s tissue and applying it in the same way as the late 18th Century process, but creating the printing plate from a digital file. Thus creating a combination of the digital capabilities of flexographic printing technology and the earliest printing process developed for the ceramic industry. The results of the project reduced the time from one month needed to engrave a roller to less than a day to create a digital equivalent, whilst retaining the integrity of the final product. The authors are collaborating with Burleigh Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, the last remaining company to produce ceramic tableware decorated using the traditional printed underglaze tissue method. The project title is Combining digital print technologies with 18th Century underglaze ceramic printing to retain an industrial heritage process. The pottery was recently saved from closure by the Princes’ Regeneration Trust, who wish to maintain the traditional manufacturing skills for the next 25 years.
Hoskins, S. (2014). Digital creation of hand engraved copper plates to secure a historic process