Ceramic Surface Decoration with Robin Hopper

This impressive two-disc set includes six programs dedicated to decorating and enriching ceramic surfaces. The programs progress from decoration techniques for soft and leather-hard clays, through to brush-work and glazing methods for bisque ware, and finally to the effects of various firing methods. You’ll find many creative ideas presented here including working processes, tools, close-ups of surface details, and many examples of finished pieces. The series includes the following six programs. Each program is 29 minutes long.


Run time: Approximately 3 hours


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This Making Marks DVD complements Robin Hopper’s seminal book on surface decoration Making Marks: Discovering the Ceramic Surface. In this 300+ page book, Robin covers scores of techniques you can use in every phase of the ceramic process from initial forming through post-firing treatments. When you purchase the DVDs and the book together, you save $29.95.


SAVE $29.95 when you order the Making Marks book and 2 disk DVD set for $174.95

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This video would be very useful in the classroom and the studio and is sure to stimulate interest in the processes shown. — Video Rating Guide for Libraries


Highly Recommended. — Book Report


As a good survey of the main elements of pottery decoration, this series is highly recommended. — Library Journal


Program 1: Introduction and Surface Removal Processes

Surface removal techniques include decoration by cutting, slashing, carving, scratching, and faceting. Work with such techniques as cross-cut fluting, sgraffito, filigree, surface expansion, washed wax and expanded spring wire are also demonstrated. Robin also discusses various tools used in surface removal including knives, serrated edges and even fingers and hands.


A well organized and skillful exposition . . . . Excellent stuff, but by far the best aspect of the series is the breadth of [Hopper’s] appreciation . . . . He succeeds in opening our doors of perception so that we become aware of the infinite variety of clay. — Ceramic Review UK


This series is an excellent resource for both beginning potters and institutions teaching ceramics (high school on up). It should also be of interest to more advanced potters for the aesthetic point of view. — Studio Potter Network




Program 2: Marks of Addition and Impression

Techniques are presented for adding to the surface by using burlap and slip, paper and slip, sprig molds, and modeling techniques. Marking surfaces by using found objects, rolled rope, paddles, stamps, lino cuts and sticks is also shown.


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As an encyclopedia of options available to potters, “Making Marks” is unparalleled. There are enough creative ideas here to fire a potter’s kiln for decades. — Video Librarian


Extremely detailed . . .would make an important contribution to all but children’s collections. — Video Rating Guide for Libraries




Program 3: Liquid and Colored Clays

A variety of decoration techniques with liquid clays are presented. Drawing, combing, marbling, dotting, feathering, and mocha diffusions with slips are all shown, as are the Japanese techniques of. mishima, hakeme, and Onda. Laminated clays of different colors are used to demonstrate neriage block-making, faceting, fluting and thrown effects.


This video is well produced, with professional lighting, close-ups, and dissolves used to good effect. Hopper supplies much useful and valuable advice. — Video Rating Guide for Libraries


[These videos] rank among the best in the recent flurry of videos which introduce the viewer to the basic techniques of potting. They are detailed, comprehensive, intelligent, high-quality productions. — Richard Aerni, Studio Potter Network


Program 4: Pigments and Resists

Effects of different brushes and underglaze pencils and pastels are shown, along with techniques for decoration with ceramic water colors, banding, and sponge stamps. Majolica, wax, and paper resists also are featured.


Will be enjoyed by crafts people of every level. — Booklist




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Program 5: Glazes and Glazing

Effects of different surfaces and firing temperatures, crystalline glazes, and various aspects of glaze development are presented and finished pieces are used to document various effects. Glaze mixing and application techniques such as dipping, brushing, spraying, trailing, pouring, applying dry materials and stamping are demonstrated. The uses of intaglio and multiple glazes are also included.


Robin Hopper explores the decoration and enrichment of ceramic surfaces in this excellent and stimulating series . . . This series is comprehensive, thorough , and sure to inspire students with its numerous inventive and creative ideas. — Arts & Activities


Program 6: Firing and Post-Firing Effects

Various firing possibilities are demonstrated beginning with a primitive pit
kiln and raku firing, oxidation firing in an electric kiln, and reduction firing using a gas kiln. Many different pieces illustrating the effects of these different firing processes are shown. Salt and soda and wood firing also are discussed using finished pieces. Techniques for working with saggars, reduced and resonate lusters are included.

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Anyone who is familiar with Robin Hopper’s stimulating and informative books will enjoy watching this master potter demonstrating many of the techniques described. Now Hopper has produced an outstanding series of video workshops in a high-quality DVD format that illuminate and expand upon his written words. Working methods accumulated during more than forty years as a production potter are presented in an extremely clear, logical, and straightforward way.


Hopper’s most recent publication, “Making Marks: Ceramic Surface Decoration,” is complemented by an excellent double disc collection (180 minutes) comprising six programs in which he generously illustrates wide-ranging techniques from that book.


There are immediate advantages to be gained by seeing methods and processes visibly demonstrated ‘in the flesh’, as opposed to attempting to assimilate sufficient expertise merely from books. The communicative skills of the demonstrator are crucial in this respect. Robin Hopper is a natural conversationalist and teacher who anticipates any question that might arise by providing detailed explanations regarding ‘why’ as well as ‘how’ a particular technique is employed.
— Peter Lane – Ceramic Review


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A review by Sumi von Dassow

Many readers will be familiar with Robin Hoppers book Making Marks: Discovering the Ceramic Surface. This two-disc DVD set is essentially a companion to the book, following more or less the same progression from marks made in wet clay to marks made in the firing process. Disc one consists of three programs focusing on making marks in moist clay and slip, while the three programs of disc two cover the use of pigments, glaze, and firing and post-firing techniques.


Of course a book can cover vastly more material than a DVD, but for certain techniques it can be invaluable to observe the process. Disc one of this set is particularly useful in this regard; in it Hopper demonstrates some basic but useful wet clay techniques, such as drawing and modeling in wet clay, impressed and sprigged decoration, and fluting and faceting. Even more interesting is the program on several slip decorating techniques of which he is a master, including slip trailing, feathering and marbling, and mocha diffusion – all of which are much more informative to watch than to read about.


While there is a wealth of useful information in disc two, it contains a lot more lecturing and less demonstrating. Program one is about pigments and resists, including the use of underglaze pencils, pastels and watercolors, and of wax and tape resists. Program two covers glazes and glazing. Here he describes briefly what glaze is and how glazes are made, and demonstrates some basic and some not-so-basic glaze application techniques. Program three, about firing and post-firing effects, consists almost entirely of a lecture about the many ways pots can be fired, with finished example pots. This portion of the disc could almost be a TV special for general audiences, and would make a good introduction to a beginner-level class about glazes. Throughout the six programs, Hopper’s presentation is practiced and easy to follow. The discs are well-produced, shot in good light, nicely indexed and easy to explore.


Anybody who works with clay can get some benefit from this DVD set, but the different programs will appeal to potters at varying levels of proficiency. Teachers will want to watch it for ideas to share with their classes, and may want to show certain segments to their classes before introducing a new concept. Students will certainly get the answers to some questions from it, and it will undoubtedly spark a whole new set of questions. For instance, there are no recipes given for any of the materials Hopper uses, such as slips, washes, and glazes, so both teachers and students will have to look for a source of more detailed information about many of these processes. The obvious place to look for more information is, of course, from the book “Making Marks.” Watching this disc is like attending a Robin Hopper workshop – and just like attending a workshop, you’ll get more out of it if you buy the book as well. — Sept/Oct 2009 Pottery Making Illustrated


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