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Published Sep 18, 2023

I have heard lots of tips and tricks for transferring an image to a piece of pottery—from tracing through plastic to specialized Graffito paper that acts like a carbon copy.

But in today's post, I am sharing a technique that I had never thought or heard of: using a projector and tracing over the projected lines. In this post, an excerpt from the September/October 2023 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Michael A. Hall explains this technique! –Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

PS. To see how Michael adds vibrant color and finishes with luster, check out the September/October 2023 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated!

Surface Design

I use a free program called Vectornator on my Apple iPad to create vector line drawings that I project onto the soft leather-hard form. When teaching secondary art, a colleague showed me the usefulness of a projector for image transfers. I use a mini-projector I found online for about $120, and it works for my needs. I value the communicative function of objects. I use flowers for symbolic emotions through the lens of Hanakotoba, the language of flowers: cherry blossoms for good education and spiritual cleansing, yellow chrysanthemums for slighted love, and peonies for compassion. I use the fancy goldfish for my symbolic self—a literal fish out of water surrounded by emotions on a functional vessel. 


1 Draw projected lines onto the form with a refillable brush and black ink. 2 Fully wax the exterior, then let it completely dry.

Draw the projections on the piece using a refillable brush pen and black ink (1). I prefer ink and a brush pen because it doesn’t carve lines into the surface, and it can be wiped off if I make a mistake. This process gives me a rough outline that I can be more precise with later. 

Next, brush the entire exterior with wax resist (2). Once the wax resist is dry, take a double-sided drypoint scribe and draw the linework into the surface of the piece (3). I attempt to be mindful to ensure the scribe is perpendicular to the surface at all times so I am creating a consistent V-shaped groove that will eventually hold underglaze. 

Carving the lines creates a lot of wax and porcelain burrs. Periodically pause your carving to brush away the burrs using a soft toothbrush (4). 

3 Use a drypoint scribe to carve lines through wax. 4 Use a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove burrs while carving.

Adding Underglaze 

After double-checking that the carved lines connect and look good, brush on one layer of thinned black underglaze mixed with gum solution, let it completely dry (5), and then wipe off the underglaze outside the lines with a porous sponge, rotating to clean spots on the sponge (6). Note: To make the gum solution, mix 21/4 cups of distilled water with 2 tablespoons of CMC gum. 

After the excess underglaze is roughly wiped away, wipe the surface again with a smooth sponge to finish cleaning it. The underglaze will remain in the carved lines. At this stage, loosely cover the work to dry slowly, then bisque fire to cone 06. 

After the bisque, give the piece a light wet sand with a 400-grit diamond sanding pad (7). Let it dry overnight.

5 Coat the carved lines with black underglaze and let the surface completely dry. 6 Clean off excess underglaze with a dense sponge, rinsing it periodically.7 Wet sand the bisque-fired surface with a 400-grit diamond pad.

Michael A. Hall resides in Kansas City, Missouri, along with his two cats Wabi and Sabi. He teaches art at a local college, at a non-profit, and at a private studio. To see more, visit @michael.hall.pottery on Instagram.