Pottery Video of the Week: Using Porcelain Ceramic Substrates as a Canvas


A couple of months ago, I posted an article by Robin Hopper about using a high-tech material – porcelain ceramic substrates – as a sort of clay canvas (see Ceramic Substrates as Canvas: A High-Tech Ceramic Material Gets Artsy). The article got a lot of positive response so I was excited when I discovered that Robin covers painting on substrates in his latest how-to pottery video Inspiration and Interpretation.


Today I’ll share a clip from the video in which Robin demonstrates a couple of painting techniques on this porcelain canvas. Enjoy and have a nice weekend! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.




Having trouble watching the video?

Please see our Video FAQ to troubleshoot.


This clip was excerpted from Robin Hopper: Inspiration and Interpretation,
which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!


Robin Hopper is a potter and author of several books (available at www.ceramicartsnetwork.org/bookstore). He lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. For more information about Robin, and to learn about his work and books, go to www.chosinpottery.ca.


  • Wow, what a great idea. I really enjoyed seeing the finished pieces also. Thank you Robin for a very informative and well-done video!

  • very inspiring video…thank you so much for sharing this information with all of us. See you at NCECA

  • OK I am going to have to try and find this product. Love the concept and the idea of using it as a canvas. This will be a real keeper for all the frustrated painters in ceramics.

  • Thanks,Robin . Great video .
    We have been using these with chinapaints and lusters low fired ( cone 018 to 015 ) .. They work great . Only caveat is that any green chinapaint that has a muted , brownish leaning will fire a muddy brown color.

    marci blattenberger

  • any recommendations on how to get these porcelain canvas?

  • In the Ceramics Monthly article Robin wrote on this material, he states that this materials is “distributed under the brand name Porcelain Canvas™ through the website http://www.ceramicartcart.com in a variety of sizes, with prices that are comparable to other art mediums such as good quality watercolor paper or stretched canvas.”
    Happy decorating!

  • To Daniel, Porcelain Canvas™ is now available on line at: CeramicArtCart.com
    To Marci,

  • oops!
    To Marci the discoloration of the green turning brown china paint is due to the flux content used in the manufacture of the china paints. Chromium gives greens, but in conjunction with any zinc in other china paints it will turn brown. It has nothing to do with the Porcelain Canvas. Sometimes trying other variations of green will solve the problem or putting the paints on in a different order. If you can get an analysis of the content of the green you are using and it contains Zinc. there is your problem. Change to another where zinc and Chromium are not together on the same piece.

  • For those who may be going to NCECA and are interested in this way of working, the three pieces shown in the DVD will be on show at Booth 531 – Keraflex/Ceramic Art Cart. They have been through further firings since the DVD. Another nice thing – you can refire until you have exactly what you want, rather than accepting what you get! There will also be many other examples of different methods. The working approach is so similar to working on paper, card, canvas or various printmaking processes, that anyone with graphic skills should feel very comfortable.

  • Hi Robin ,
    I appreciate what youre saying ..,, Are you sure there is not zinc used in the manufacture of the porcelain canvases? ….
    These same greens, used in any other context for china painting ( on clear glazed whiteware whether its porcelain, bone china, earthen ware etc ) or on bisque unglazed ware ,does not produce the brown hue…It only happens on the porcelain canvases…. or if zinc oxide is added to the paint as a matting agent… and it will happen to those specific greens even if there is no other paint on the canvas ( which would seem to rule out contamination from another paint )
    BTW, Paul Lewing and I will be doing a breakout workshop on chinapaint on Thursday at NCECA.

  • The video clip was marvelous as usual. Robin Hopper never disappoints. He explains technique exceptionally well. Any book or video of his is an exciting treat.

  • Loved the video clip. So informative, but I really love Robin’s joy in working with the porcelain canvas. Just wonderful to see how creativity keeps feeding our art and heart. Thanks.

  • Very interesting. Where do you get this substates, I wonder? Great video. well put together. everything explained and demonstated well…would like to give this a try!

  • Way cool – I can’t wait to try! But I do have a couple of questions: Looking at ArtCart, I don’t see that the Porcelain Canvas comes in different cone ratings – does the cone level matter since it’s already fired? Do you just fire at the cone level of your underglazes?

    I also see that the tiles come in different sizes – I don’t suppose they can be “cut” (or scored & “broken” in a controlled manner like glass) to a specific size?

    Can the finished product be grouted in as part of a shower stall?

    You mentioned that some light can come through – is the finished product (perhaps where no underglaze is applied) partially translucent? Perhaps to be used as part of a lampshade?

    I better quit now – my mind is racing with ideas!!!! Thanks Robin!

    Warm regards, Jan

  • Hi Marci, There is nothing in the Porcelain Canvas that will cause that discoloration. According to the manufacturers, they are basically 96% alumina, with the remaining 4% being silica and organic polymers. They are pre-fired to over cone 10 and have no absorption and no shrinkage. If there is zinc in your matting agent there will always be a good chance that any chromium that it comes in contact with will cause browning. Chromium isn’t the only thing that gives you greens, and Zinc based matting agents aren’t the only matting agents. Calcium based matts will improve the color of Chromium.

  • Outstanding work….now to purchase some porcelain canvas and try some of this…wonder if you can silk screen on these….

  • Hi Robin

    I couldn’t help but notice that your kiln shelves looked like flat metal. Is this something new? I have a small piece of this porcelain canvas that I am going to woodfire to see if anything new happens to it. Will probably try a shino glaze on it with black overglaze linework.

    Thanks, Jennie

  • How enjoyable to have a few minutes with Robin Hopper. His enthusiasm and natural teaching ability are inspirational and make me want to run out a get going on one of these porcelain canvases.

  • I was wondering about those kiln shelves too!

  • Here are answers to a few more questions. The material is fired at above Cone 10 in being manufactured. You can refire it any cone below that where glazes can melt. Probably the best fusion temperature is a maximum of cone 6 to avoid possible warpage. Lasers, high speed water drills and high quality diamond drills may be used to cut the material. The material is quite translucent with clear or transparent glazes. Dense, opaque glazes will minimize the amount of light passing through. Clear colored.glazes may have a stained glass-like effect. The thin, black kiln shelves are called Advancer. You can Google them on the internet and purchase the material on-line.

  • Robin said: There is nothing in the Porcelain Canvas that will cause that discoloration. According to the manufacturers, they are basically 96% alumina, with the remaining 4% being silica and organic polymers.

    And yet it is peculiar to the porcelain canvases.. I only mention using zinc as a matting agent because that would be pretty much the singular time zinc would be added by us to a china paint … to make a matt paint rather than a shiny paint. didnt mean for that to cloud the issue.
    It may be that those particular greens do have some zinc in them in the manufacturing process.. but if thats the case, then I would think they would turn brown on any surface that is used for chinapainting… and that isnt the case… only on the porcelain canvases…
    I readily admit I am not a glaze chemist. Im a china painter …and have fired those same greens on porcelain that has been fired to cone 10 without issues. It is only on the porcelain canvas that the brown discoloration happens…
    I dont pretend to know why and I dont mean to be argumentative. It is just my observation after 35 years in the game.

  • Thank you Robin,
    Great and very informative video. And you have provide more information by just answering everyones questions. Its a pity i live in India and will not be able to see more of your work or meet you at your booth.

  • Dear Robin, thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge about working with this material. Hope to see you at NCECA.

  • Robin, you are an excellent teacher and a pleasure to watch.

  • Thanks so much for showing the “finished” pieces, I always appreciate that. My question is about the benefits of this material over simply making bisque slabs for the same purpose. Is it just the convenience of having a pre-made, very sturdy surface? Or are there some other reasons I’m not seeing? Thanks, Mr. Hopper!

  • Hi Am,
    Porcelain Canvas™ is a particularly beautiful surface to work on, almost like super thin ivory sheet, quite unlike anything that I have ever found before and certainly nothing that one could replicate using “regular” porcelain clay slabs. It is fired above cone 10 and has absolutely no glaze on it. It has only been commercially available since December 2010 and, as yet, the only supplier is as mentioned above by myself and Sherman Hall. There are other satin-matt substrates using the same name that are not trademarked. I haven’t seen or used the other products, but, from descriptions I have heard, they are most likely coated with a thin zinc glaze known as a Bristol glaze. The zinc would seriously affect certain colorants, namely Chromium, Iron and Cobalt. What you are not seeing, is the sensuous nature of touch, the visual qualities that go with that and the superior way that it takes the many surfacing processes that I’ve tried on it. Try it and see!

  • Thanks for a very thorough and convincing answer. I am definitely going to give it a try!

  • WOW looks like a great new medium! Can this be cut?

  • Very nice video! Looks like a lot of fun!

  • I have just bought 5 pieces of porcelain vanvas. I am eager to start and the video was very very helpful. I love drawing and I am going to transfer some of them on this new canvas. I own a lot of drawing materials such as conte, china markers, charcoal, sumi ink, and india ink. I might try the sumi or india ink and see if they can survive the firing. Also, what is the maximum temperature you can fire the substrates?
    Many many thanks Robin for sharing.

  • It is me again. Please notify me of followup comments via e-mail.

  • A couple more answers! DARLENE: Porcelain Canvas™ can only be cut with a laser, high speed water jet or high quality diamond saw or drill. CARLA: You can only use Mineral based drawing tools such as the iron colored Conté. Black and white conté are made with organic material and will burn away in the firing. There are all manner of commercially available ceramic drawing and paining tools such as underglaze pencils, UG pastel, UG pens. Porcelain Canvas™ has been pre-fired during manufacture to above cone 10. I recommend that it be fired to no higher than cone 9 to avoid possible warpage. Any glazes, at any temperature, in any type of firing, should be just fine up to cone 9 in oxidation or reduction. Try it and see!

  • The Remarkable layer, on which simply write any paint, in stove layer is not deformed.
    Much likes, there is several works on layer.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image

Send this to a friend