Creating Colorful Surfaces with Linda Arbuckle

Nothing beats majolica when you’re looking for a way to add color to your surfaces. This centuries-old low-temperature onglaze decorating technique, which began in the Middle East centuries ago, is seeing a renaissance among potters today. Linda Arbuckle, a long-time practitioner, has dedicated years to the study and perfection of majolica and brings the process into 21st century. In this DVD, you’ll learn about the background, materials, tools, tips and techniques you need to get started. Through a series of easy-to-follow demonstrations, Linda guides you step-by-step through the entire decorating process.

 

Runtime: 2 hours and 30 minutes — 2 discs

 
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Purchased downloads are available to download for three days. Video files are compatible with Quicktime Player, Windows Media Player, and most other current video players. They are delivered as zip files containing the video files, and they require a broadband Internet connection to download (at 4 Mbps, this file can take 30–45 minutes to download.). Do not attempt with a dial-up connection.

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A solid background

Majolica is a decorating technique that requires an understanding of the materials and the tools before you can be successful with the technique, and Linda is an expert with both. From getting the right base glaze and colorants to selecting and using the correct brushes, you’ll benefit from her years of experience and experimentation.

 

 

Every step covered

Once you understand your materials and tools, Linda leads you through the glazing procedure beginning with how to prepare your pots for glazing. She also discusses the importance of planning your design work and encourages the use of sketchbooks prior to placing your first stroke on the pot. One interesting aspect of the DVD is the section on brushwork—the kinds of brushes, the types of strokes, and even how to load them for different special effects.

 

 
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Why majolica?

There are several reasons why majolica glazing is so popular. First of all, the glaze is viscous so your decoration does not move when fired meaning your brushwork remains crisp. Second, the base glaze can be thick, which will cover small imperfections on the clay surface (an advantage for a lot of us!). And third, because you’re just laying color on the surface, you use fewer materials because all you need is a thin wash.

 

 

Projects to practice

The best way to learn majolica is to try it out. Linda leads you through a series of decorating projects. Instead of just diving right in and leaving you lost, she discusses the planning and considerations of form you need to address, and also includes information on design and color choices. As you progress through each project, you’ll gain the confidence you need to come up with your own ideas for your work.

 

About Linda Arbuckle

A longtime practitioner of the majolica process, Linda Arbuckle is also a professor at the University of Florida. Her work has been recognized through an Artists’ Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a Florida Individual Artists’ Fellowship. She has participated in artist residencies in Wales and the People’s Republic of China, and has been a faculty presenter at such  well-respected craft schools as Penland, Arrowmont, Haystack and the Archie Bray Foundation, to name a few. Her work appears in museum collections worldwide and she has been featured in numerous books and magazines.

 
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A Review by Sumi von Dassow

Majolica Decoration: Creating Colorful Surfaces with Linda Arbuckle offers you the expertise of one of America’s foremost practitioners of the art of majolica. Arbuckle is clearly a great teacher and we are lucky to have her wisdom and knowledge captured in this 2-disc set. While the basics of majolica are not very complicated, this DVD covers her methods in great detail. It is traditional to do majolica decoration on red earthenware using a low-fire white glaze, and this is what is demonstrated here. Traditionally, majolica painters mix their stains with appropriate fluxing materials but Arbuckle uses commercial underglazes directly on her base white glaze. This is a time-saving step that takes away some of the drudgery of the technique, though Arbuckle does include recipes to try if you want to mix your own stains. There are also recipes for the necessary white base glaze, including a cone 6 version. But the recipes, and even the basic method of working, are only the beginning of what this DVD set has to offer. For starters, Arbuckle almost never paints on one color at a time—she mixes the colors right on the paintbrush, or even on her thumb, so that each brushstroke or thumbprint blends two, three, or four colors which fade from one to the next. She also never colors within the lines—she puts the colors on, and then adds the lines! The one other material she makes liberal use of is wax resist, to cover her foreground imagery before painting in the background. But “how-to” is not the only valuable aspect of this DVD set. Throughout these DVDs, Arbuckle offers her insights into design composition, imagery choice, sources of inspiration, and making the imagery fit the form. Her comments about aesthetics and design are inspirational even if you never try majolica yourself.