Mary's Maiolica Arts

Tutorials: General Information

Introduction

The goal of this section of my web site is to provide information to help others get started making maiolica.  There are some topics written specifically to aid Medieval or Renaissance re-enactors interested in making maiolica feast gear or Arts & Science entries.

Overview

Maiolica is a type of low-fire ceramic earthenware covered with an opaque white tin-based glaze and decorated with colored pigments.  Maiolica is a low-fire ceramic -- glaze firing to Cone 06 (1828 F).  There are many ways to make maiolica.  The key component is the white glaze.  The decorating materials can vary. If the decoration is not applied on top of an unfired white glaze, it is not maiolica. Maiolica is sometimes compared to frescos because the colored pigments sink into the white glaze during firing.

Because maiolica is a fired product, learning to make maiolica can be an iterative process.  The painted colors will change during the firing process.  Shading and special effects take practice.  Making test tiles is an important part of the process. 

Materials

The materials I use are made in Italy by the Hobby Colorobbia Company.  They are sold in the United States and are food safe.  I use Bisque Stroke Underglazes.  Using commercial underglazes is an easy way to get started.  A list of materials and supplies has been provided to use as a starting point. These supplies can be found online or through traditional hobby ceramic shops.

Lessons

The tutorial on Pouncing is an important starting point. Pouncing is the traditional way of transferring patterns onto the unfired white maiolica glaze. The technique is also used for frescos, woodworking, and needlework.

Many maiolica designs are repetitive geometric designs. The Painting with Geometry tutorial shows how to use a generic template as a starting point to paint geometric designs free hand.

Designs

There are a lot of common maiolica decorative motifs. Unfortunately there is no fantastic pattern book of motifs. Studying images of historic maioica online or in books is how I get ideas. Check out the Bibliography or Links pages to find images of historic maiolica.

Advanced Techniques

There are other ways to create maiolica.  Some potters create their own white glaze and decorate using powdered pigments and stains.  There are a couple of books listed on my Bibliography page for people interested in more advanced techniques.

To learn more...

Join the maiolica group on Yahoo -- The Yahoo maiolica group is for people who enjoy making or studying Renaissance Italian maiolica.  Our group area includes a collection of files with useful information for creating maiolica.

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