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From Copper Plate to Teacup: Transfer Printing on Ceramics

by Lea C. Lane, Curatorial Assistant, Decorative Arts and Design


behind the scenes , copper plate , ceramics

How do you print on a three-dimensional object like a teacup? We recently installed a group of materials in the Library Reading Room that illustrate the process of transfer printing on ceramics. This technique was developed in Italy in the late 17th–early 18th century, adopted in England starting about 1751, mass produced there through the 19th century, and is still practiced worldwide today.

Printing on a ceramic body is faster and more economical than hand painting. When the design was printed and then covered with a clear glaze, it was also highly durable. The next time you are at the Cincinnati Art Museum, stop by the Library to learn more!

Transfer Printing Process Examples

20th century

Spode Ltd. (1970–2009)


ceramic, copper and paper

Gift of Robert Copeland