« The decor on porcelain truly brings added value to the product. Each product that we decorate can be used just the way it is, it already has a function. But adding a decor makes it more beautiful, more personal. »Emilie, decor referent, working at Revol for 7 years.
Not all the manufacturers do it the same. At Revol, there is a specific know-how and team dedicated to decorating the porcelaine by hand, using different techniques.
What does it mean to be a ceramic decorator?
The ceramic decorator has to prepare the colors and apply them using different methods, on enameled piece or raw part after it has been fired in a kiln.
At Revol, we are mainly using 3 decor techniques :
Decor by decal
The decorator applies the decor directly on the enamel. To apply it, we first have to soak it into water at 20/30°C for 1 or 2 minutes and wait for the paper to come off. Once this step is done, the decorator takes the decor and the varnish and puts it delicately on the product. Then they smooth it out and get rid of the water. They have to make sure that there is not any air bubble underneath the decor. Before they fire the product in the kiln, they have to let it dry for a few hours.
The varnish that holds the colors burns during the firing time which leaves us only with the decor on the product. At Revol, this technique is mainly used on the Crumple collection.
Before applying the decor on the piece, a preparation of the colors is necessary. The preparation is very important because it can completely alter the result if it is not well done.
In order to prepare the colors, the decorator has to mix the pigment (that comes in the form of a powder) with links and mediums, to get the right texture for it to be applied on the product.
When watercolors are used, they need to be well mixed with the water so that it is crushed and uniform to apply it with a paintbrush. Watercolors can only be used on raw pieces, because they have good adherence, which is not the case for enameled pieces. Before applying the decor on the piece, it is important to make sure the brush is well charged in color and not too much in water.
Once the decorator prepares the color and the brush has the right amount of color, they can apply it on the piece, using different ways depending on the expected result. To decorate a Revolution lid, they have to brush very lightly the piece in order to get the brushed look.
For this technique, the decorator sprays the color onto the product by using a spray gun. This technique requires a regular pressure and a lot of stability. There’s a particular attention to have on the settings of the air/ color rate proportion, in order to get the result we want. We can find this decor on the Solstice collection. The decorator puts the bowl on a rotating support and sprays the color on the product while it is rotating. This way the color is distributed evenly on the piece. Once this step is done, the decorator comes in with a sponge for the final touch up, that gives it the right texture and look.
Other techniques of decor on porcelain are used at Revol, but we will not reveal all our secrets…!
Once the piece is decorated by one of these techniques, it is fired in a kiln going from 750°C for the gold and platinum colors, to 900°C for matte colors.
The importance of the firing step
The heat always reveals the decor. It is not possible to know the result of the decor, before firing the product. That is why a lot of tests are necessary the first times we are trying a new decor.
This enables to adjust the technique used to decor the product. For the Revolution lid: a few tries were necessary to find the right pressure to apply with the brush but also on the color density. If the color is too liquid, there will not be the brushed effect we want because the color dilutes rapidly.
The first times that we do the decor for a new piece, it has to be fired and then analyzed to make the necessary adjustment. The step of firing is a major step in the process and has a real impact on the result. Some colors, such as true gold or platinum, come out completely changed from the oven. True gold, before it is fired, is brown and the texture is a bit sticky, we barely see it on the piece. But when it comes out of the oven, it is gilded. (like the Sphère plates).
Handmade decor on porcelain is a very important knowledge at Revol, which took an important place in the elaboration of new collections and needs to be preserved in the future.
Read this article in french here