Ceramic Decals – Enduring Images

Enduring Images is a Colorado-based company that produces ceramic decal printing systems as well as well as offering their own printing equipment to print custom decals for customers. I spoke with this company about their products and services. They walked me through their product line and how potters can use this technology for artistic purposes.

Mitchell Spain – ceramic “cans” using decals printed on an Enduring Images’ printer

Enduring Images modifies certain types of digital printing equipment to apply inorganic pigments to ceramic surfaces. These inorganic pigments will not fade over time, even when exposed to UV rays and prolonged sunlight. Most commercial printers use organic pigments, which will fade over time. While there are a few commercially available printers that contain iron oxide in the black toner, Enduring Images’ equipment allows users to use the full spectrum of colors.

Customers can purchase the printers themselves (for example ceramic artists Mitchell Spain and Mariko Paterson, discussed below). Alternatively, clients can send Enduring Images their digital photographs or graphics files and Enduring Images will print and apply decals onto ceramic surfaces.

The largest customer group using these printing services are tombstone makers. They send digital photographs to Enduring Images and the company prints those images onto round, oval or square ceramic tiles for mounting on tombstones. Photographic images of the deceased that don’t fade over time are a significant product improvement for tombstone monument-makers.

Other commercial clients use these printing services for tiles and other architectural ceramics. Many customers also hire Enduring Images to manufacture their custom-printed dinnerware. A few examples follow.

Of more interest to me, personally, are the artists who are tapping into Enduring Images’ commercial printing products to create interesting ceramics. I will highlight two artists here.

Mitchell Spain

Mitchell Spain is an amazingly creative ceramic artist in rural Iowa. He grew up on a farm, and passed time rummaging through the detritus left behind successive generations of farmers. His trompe l’oeil techniques incorporate that imagery from rural America, particularly imagery of discarded and decaying automotive products, into his work. In the video below (from the Enduring Images website), he describes how he uses an Enduring Images printer to create decals for his work.

Mitchell looks to be rolling out a line of customizable decals for placement on various ceramic forms he makes. You can see more information on his website. Here are a few images of his earlier pieces:

Mitchell Spain – small flask
Mitchell Spain – large flask
Mitchell Spain – mugs

Mariko Paterson

I absolutely love Mariko’s energy and enthusiasm, evident right as you view her Forage Studios website (“Expect the unexpected and whenever possible be the unexpected”):

Mariko explains in this video (again from Enduring Images’ website) how she adds decals to her ceramic work:

I encourage you to explore Mariko’s world – which includes some super-creative elements like her “Eat, Clay, Love” project. Here are a couple of images of her work, one showing printed decals, nicked from her website:

Mariko Paterson
Mariko Paterson

More information on Enduring Images’ products and services is available on their website. I visited their offices in Golden, CO, a few months ago and was impressed with their openness. Mary Beth Manwiller, CEO, invited me over and I ended up speaking with Ron Manwiller, COO, for over an hour about the chemistry and engineering of these printers. I was genuinely impressed with how Enduring Images wants to help ceramic artists to incorporate digital imagery into ceramics – and use available technology to sustain their livelihoods.

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