Monday, November 24, 2014

Join Dan in the Workshop! Project-Porcelain Magnets

We placed an order with one of our Dye Sublimation suppliers last week as we gear up for the holiday season in the workshop.  We always want to make sure that we have plenty of our blank porcelain, ceramic, metal, hardboard, shell, glass, and fabric blank gift items in stock so that we can make items to ship all over for our Etsy customers during the holidays. While we were placing an order for some extra Tea-For-One sets, we came across some really nice looking 2 x 2 porcelain tiles for making your own magnets. Dan decided these magnets would make really nice gift items,so we added them to our order.

You've seen people make magnets by printing art onto flexible magnet sheets, and decoupaging art onto wood, ceramic, or other foundations, but that's not how these are made. Our process is called Dye Sublimation, the art is printed using a specially altered printer that uses dye instead of ink, and then the image is infused into the surface of the item, in this case a porcelain tile.  This process makes the art vivid, permanent, and waterproof. Dan was kind enough to invite you into the workshop to see how he makes his magic using my artwork and his Dye Sublimation skills!

I edited the art in Photoshop to the right size and dimensions. These were printed on our Dye Sublimation printer and Dan cut them apart, and used a spray adhesive specially designed for Dye Sublimation to keep the tiles centered how he wanted them and keeping them from sliding around on the press.
Next Dan lays the tiles out on the art making sure to center the image. The art is a little bigger than the item, this is so that the art will go all the way to the edge without any gaps along the edges.
Next Dan has heated the big heat press to 400 degrees and makes sure the pressure is set right, it needs to really be tight.  It's a combination of heat and pressure that releases the dye into the special coating on the porcelain. 
He has a system, makes sure none of the paper sheets have shifted before he closes the press on them and the timer starts. That big arm on top will swing around and line up with the press bed where he's working. 
Here he is setting the time, then he pulls that big black handle down, it really takes a lot of upper body strength to close that press! I can't do it at all. Tristan and I once made Dan a shirt for his birthday, it took both of us together to close that press. 
The timer goes off, and he opens the press. (which isn't as hard as closing it, but still takes some strength)  The cover sheets, paper, porcelain tiles, and surface of the heat press are now all 400 degrees. He uses an "Ove Glove" and spatula to get the items off the press.
We got these awesome cooling racks, they're meant for cookies, but we can stack them when we're making stuff for festivals or during the holidays so we can get a lot done in a small amount of space.  It's tempting to touch them...I have to walk away for about five minutes while they cool.  Different substrates make the art look different.  For instance, hardboard tiles and aluminum give you a very sharp bold look, these porcelain tiles have a softer fairy tale quality, very pretty.
I use a strong adhesive to affix the magnets onto the back of the porcelain.  These are really strong magnets, we were very pleased. I can't stand a wimpy magnet that will only hold one piece of paper.
Look how thick the magnet and the porcelain is.  I love these, they feel very high-end , they have a nice weight to them, a lovely smooth texture to the surface, and the porcelain has a lovely sheen to it. 
Now to put them on my fridge so I can take photos to post on, wow. My fridge is a mess!  Hang on, let me clear off some of this stuff...what IS that under the kids art, wine or jelly?! *clean, clean, wipe, wipe*  You didn't see that, right?!
Ok, YES! This is how my fridge really looks ALL the time...artistically arranged magnets, polite notes, and a bit of nature magic at work.  (At least as far as Etsy knows, right? We won't tell the truth will we?! ) Click here to see the Etsy listing for these lovely magnets!

That's how we do it! We use that big press for almost all of our items, unless they're coffee mugs, tea-for-one sets, steins etc. We have a round press for mugs, and for some items we use silicone wraps and press them in the oven.  Each item has it's own time, temp, and pressure adjustment. We have loads of templates designed by myself and my teenage son using my artwork on our big workhorse computer that we can print out and press to make all the beautiful things in our Etsy shop.  We hope you had fun walking through the process of one of our newest items, these new magnets look amazing in the photos, but wait until you see them in person. They're fancy enough to make you want to clean off your fridge...or get someone else to do it! Dan would be happy to make a set just for you, here's where you can order a set of your own.



  1. How cool to actually see the process, I have hoped for this for some time. Very inspiring!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the magic with us! I've always wondered how these beautiful pretties were made! ;)

  3. It never gets old, when new items come off the press, we're always excited to see how they turn out! I'm so glad you guys enjoyed seeing how we do it! :)

  4. Thanks for sharing this info, i got more art ideas using the flexible magnets.


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