How to Apply Japanese Tissue Paper to Clay

Applying Japanese tissue paper to clay is a fun easy way to create interesting surface designs on clay.

To apply Japanese tissue paper to clay, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Make your handmade plate. Let dry. When completely dry smooth the surface of the clay with a light sanding. Remove all dust.

Step 2: Purchase your Japanese tissue paper. Get a sponge, small cup of water and scissors.

Step 3: Cut out your tissue paper and think about where you would like to place your pieces. Place tissue paper face down in desired location and sponge on the back. Ensure all the tissue paper is wet. Leave for a few minutes and then gently peel the backing paper. This will leave the design on the clay.


Applying Japanese Tissue Paper to Clay

Applying Japanese Tissue Paper to Clay

Step 4: First kiln firing

Step 5: Apply clear glaze

Step 6: Second kiln firing.

Japanese Tissue Paper applied on Clay

Japanese Tissue Paper applied on Clay




57 thoughts on “How to Apply Japanese Tissue Paper to Clay

  1. This is jolly interesting – just to check I understand it right you apply to an unfired pot, then it goes in for the bisque fire with the paper on? Might be purchasing soon for experiments!

  2. Hi. Thanks for visiting. For the clays I use you need to use a kiln as an oven does not get hot enough. However if you use a polymer clay you can use an oven. The end product is not quite as durable using a polymer clay but still good for hobbies.

  3. Only just found out about these, I’ll have to get hold of some they look great, and as I use lots of decals I have to do three firings, this would cut out one of them. A solution to having large pots too big to fit into the kiln I use for decals.

    • Hi
      I haven’t tried decals yet only the Japanese tissue paper. I didn’t know that decals need three firings. They do look amazing. Earlier today I was reading your post about those dark clouds of depression. I to have struggled with depression. I could relate to what you were saying. Thanks for sharing. Really interesting about you being able to knit and do other things but not throw on the wheel when challenged with depression. During those times I only manage to make small items in clay that don’t require much energy etc. being a working mum with little time for clay doesn’t help either. It was so nice to find your blog and see other mums that I could relate to.

    • Decals only work on top of glaze. Decals are fired at a very low temperature. The Japanese rice papers have underglaze on them. You use them under your glaze. They can be used on low and mid fire clay. You could try to use them on high fire clay and they may work depending on the color. You can make your own sheets by silk-screening or stencil underglazes onto newsprint or rice paper. Amaco sells a thickener to add to your underglazes.

  4. Sorry to be such a dummy but I don’t understand the underglazing part. Do you paint that on the top or bottom of the tissue or is it painted on the raw clay? What kind of clay is best for this project and what cone do you bisque and glaze fire at? Thank you.

    • Hi, that’s cool. Great question.
      I buy the Japanese Tissue Paper from my local ceramics shop. It comes with the underglaze pattern already on the tissue paper so I don’t have paint the tissue paper at all. You can also buy this type of tissue paper online with the underglaze pattern already on it. To apply the paper gently wet the unfired clay and put the tissue paper face down, leave for a minute and gently pull back the ‘backing’ paper. The best clay I found for this effect is a clay that is quite fine without a lot of grogg in it. So a smooth white clay is great. I get my pieces fired at my local ceramics shop as well so I’m not sure what cone they bisque to. I should ask them and come back and update this post.

    • Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. You can do so many things with this paper….I’ve still got a lot of experimenting to do. I assume you can buy it online. I buy it from my local ceramics store.

  5. Hey rowenamaxwell
    I just found your site at the internet. I am a women form Denmark. Completly new in this ceramic World. 😉
    May I ask… is it ordinary Japanes tissues? or are they made specially for ceramics? Does your great ceramics shop, have an internet shop?
    Love from Hanne from Denmark 🙂

    • Hi
      Nice to hear from you. This tissue paper is specifically for ceramics. I do not sell online. One day I might, but not for now. You should be able to find a supplier online to buy this type of product. If you have a local ceramics shop they might also sell it or know who might locally to you. There are many different patterns you can buy. Lots of fun to have in ceramics. I hope you enjoy your ceramic adventures. It can become addictive though!

  6. pero me imagino que a este papel hay que decorarlo con materiales cerámicos o sea dibujar en el con pigmentos cerámicos para después traspasar a la cerámica. profesora de cerámica en España. mara es mi nombre

  7. OK I have a rather strange question. Can this be used on air dry, polymer, any other clay product that is NOT fired? I am wondering what would happen if you used it on like cold porcelain or something and then clear coated. I would like to try it, but don’t want to go to the expense of purchasing the paper if I cannot use it for anything.

    • Mmmm…I dont think that would work as the patterns left behind is glaze matter so thats why it needs to go into a kiln for firing. However I will confirm when I go to my local ceramics shop this week end. Great question. Thanks.

  8. I take it this is special Japanese tissue made especially for firing in a kiln? Not the same as Japanese tissue you buy at paper stores? The kind people use for all sorts of things, including origami etc.?

  9. Use caution handling fired pieces – unlike traditional underglaze, they can smudge easily. I also found that dipping in clear glaze resulted in a blurred image, rather like English “flow ware” blue China. Another source suggested gently sponging clear glaze on decorated piece. This gave more satisfactory results. Lots of interesting decorating possibilities. I’m still experimenting!

    • Hi Michael. Thanks for the tips. Very useful. I find it interesting that this post of mine always gets the most traffic on my entire blog so this technique must popular. So I’m sure lots of people will see your great advice!

    • Hi Angi and thanks for stopping by. I am not sure as I buy mine in person as I have a great ceramics shop close by. You should be able to find an online supplier. The ceramics shop where I get mine also sell online but I am not sure if you could find a closer online store to the UK which might be more cost effective. Google Brookvale Ceramics Sydney and you will find the shop where I get mine.

  10. This is a very enticing idea. I didn’t see an answer to the question of what cone(s) this is fired to. I’d love to try it. Need to know the firing info. Thanks, Debi

  11. Hi. I love what you’ve done. Since I cannot buy japanese paper where I live I am going to try this with transfer soft paper. They say you can use it on clay, glass and many more. Have you any idea this could work? I was wondering also wheter I can paint my clay with acrylic before firing and then use glaze?

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