Firing Decals on Bottles

Decals are a quick and fun way to add detail to your fused bottle projects.  Most low fire ceramic decals and low fire glass decals will work very well on bottles and float glass.  Most decals are water slide decals which means that they are a thin film image that slides off of the paper backing when soaked in water.

Materials needed:

Selection of low fire water slide decals.  I purchase nearly all of mine from Glaser Ceramics.

Clean dish with water

paper towel or lint free fabric towel

bottle (mine has the bottom cut off)


Step 1:  Select your decals.

I find it easier to cut each decal into a small separate piece rather than try to deal with six decals at once.

Step 2:  Soak decals in water.

The decals will initially roll up, and then as the paper becomes saturated, they will relax back out flat.

Once the paper is completely saturated, the decals can be slipped off of the paper backing.

Step 3:  Add decals to the bottle.

This is a little delicate, as the decals are quite thin and want to wrinkle up, keep the decal as wrinkle free as possible.  If you don’t like the position of the decal, you can add a little water and ‘float’ the decal to a new spot.  Don’t forget the neck of the bottle!  If you want your decal to curve over the shoulder of the bottle, you can cut small darts in the edges and smooth them flat.

Step 4:  Smooth out all water and air.

All of the excess water and air need to be completely smoothed out from behind the decal.  You can use a small squeegee or rubber rib (ceramics tool) for this if you wish.  I’m using a paper towel because my bottle has a slight texture, so a squeegee won’t work well here.  I start at the center of the decal and smooth toward the outside edges with gentle strokes.

Step 5:  Fire the decals on.

Decals do have to be fired onto your bottle.  Most ceramic decals come with a Cone temperature range for firing, for instance, Cone 022.  You can easily look at a cone temperature conversion chart and see what temperature the cone translates to.  Here is my favorite cone conversion chart.

I like to fire bottles in my ceramic kiln because it’s nice and deep.  If you aren’t sure if the bottle will fit in your kiln, refer to this tutorial about how to measure your kiln and your bottle to make sure you have room.  You can also fire the bottle on it’s side, but you may see some slight deformation of the bottle.  You should ALWAYS test your firing on undecorated bottles first, as not all kilns fire the same.  I use a low temperature fire polish firing schedule.

Step 6:  Use pretty bottles for other projects!

Don’t forget you can put decals on dark glass too, the just have a lower contrast.  Gold decals are wonderful on dark glass.

I’ve used these bottles for both garden bells and garden bottle lanterns.

Related Articles:

Slumping Bottles Vertically

Wine Bottle Drinking Glasses -Advanced (fire polish tutorial)

Bottle Garden Lanterns