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Tips & Tricks - DECALS

A successful decal firing is the result of a good application fundamentals combined with good firing conditions. Take your time and carefully follow the instructions enclosed with each decal. After a few successes it will become a simple process.


  1. CLEAN GLASS is a must! Remove dirt, grime, oils, etc. I use ammonia with micro fiber rags and sometimes alcohol too! Avoid touching glass surface with your hands.
  3. Get a good pair of small scissors so you can evenly follow the contour of the design, about 1/16 inch away, when trimming it from the decal card. Often the design will blend with the glass when transferred making it invisible and the outside edge is all you have to determine correct positioning.
  4. When working small, a good pair of curved-tip tweezers is very handy.
  5. Wet the surface of the glass when applying the decal, it allows the decal to easily move into position.
  6. To apply the decal, slide it slightly off of the paper and hold the paper edge with the tweezers. Position decal and hold exposed edge with finger, or a second pair of tweezers, on the glass while pulling paper from underneath. When the decal is in place hold with finger and blot excess water. Continue to gently blot, using an inside out rolling motion, until ALL THE WATER AND AIR BUBBLES ARE OUT from underneath the decal, a small squeegee (old credit card, etc.) is useful. Continue until the entire decal, including the edges, are FIRMLY AFFIXED TO THE CLEAN GLASS SURFACE.
  7. ALLOW TO DRY COMPLETELY before firing. The smallest amount of moisture can steam apart the decal from the glass.


  1. OVER-FIRING is a main source of disappointment. Decals are temperature sensitive, some colors more than others. The best results are achieved with the lower temperatures and slightly longer soak times. LOWER LONGER not HIGHER FASTER is a good habit to cultivate for all your other non decal work as well.
  2. GOOD VENTILLATION in the kiln during the burn off phase, (500-900F), is important for all decals and particularly critical for both the hi-fire and low-fire ("Accents") metallic decals. I leave the lid vented till the kiln reaches 1100F. Maintenance of a good oxidizing atmosphere ensures a bright lustrous finish.


Successfully encasing metallic decals requires that you pre-fire up to the lower end of the curing range. Polishing lightly with a soft cloth after they cool helps get rid of the impurities. Gold and platinum, unlike enamels, do not melt at fusing temperatures. Because of this, as the uneven layers of the handmade glass are moving about during the fusing process, distortion is more problematic with the metallic decals. Using smooth glass, stacking layers as close to 6mm, (1/4 inch), fused height as possible, and taking it up to but not quite to a full fuse will produce many happy face results!


John Brauchi

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