Mary's Maiolica Arts

Recreating History


Decorative tin-glazed pottery dates back to 9th century Persia and the technique spread to potters throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  This style of decorative pottery is especially appropriate for use as feast gear for historical re-enactors of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. 

Feast Gear Options

Standard rimmed plates and the typical round flat plates are appropriate for the typical SCA re-enactor time period.  Also appropriate is the typical small rimless bowl and pinch spout water pitcher.  On the other hand, the typical ceramic drinking mug is not easy to document.  Small Italian maiolica bowls with two handles are sometimes described as being used for drinking.  Single handled jugs made in the Netherlands during the 16th century have been found in England.  Images of these jugs can be found in the book "Maiolica in the North".  For a list of books on maiolica see the Bibliography page.


With a little research, even the non-artist can find a design that can be copied to use as feast gear.  The easiest designs are usually the earliest designs.  Decorated pottery was done for different consumer markets so there are simpler designs available for a beginner regardless of century.  Most books on pottery history have a few images of Italian maiolica, but these are usually elaborate master level pieces made for display.  Simpler designs are easier to find in catalogs of large museum collections.  There are a number of online art museum catalogs with images of period maiolica.  Useful search words include: "tin-glazed", "maiolica", "majolica", "faience", "delft", "delftware".  One site with a large collection of online images is the Fitzwilliam Museum. Please practice good historical re-enactment and refer to original period items for your work.

Maiolica decoration became more elaborate in the 16th century when the color palette expanded from a few simple colors.   Large sets were commissioned by noble patrons.  Special commissions commemorated weddings and births.  Heraldry is common on pieces of maiolica.  In earlier time periods (pre-1500), substitutions of colors were sometimes made on heraldry because of the limited color palette. 

These are reproductions of Archaic Italian maiolica in the Museo Archeologico e della Ceramica in Montelupo, Italy.  The originals were dated from 1460-1500.

16th c. rhoma pattern

16th c ribbon pattern

These designs are based on 16th century designs from Montelupo Italy. They are my interpretations of period designs.

Please practice good historical re-enactment and refer to original period items for your work.

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