Majolica is another technique for decorating ceramic. It refers to the decoration that is made on the glazed layer of a biscuit type baked piece with paint. Majolica is a coarse, brittle type of ceramic consisting of burnt clay and colored enamel paintings.
The name Majolica comes from a manipulation of the Spanish word Mallorca. It is an island in the Mediterranean and the centre of production for that type of pottery in the Medieval Times. The technique really originates from North Africa and the Middle East.
Due to the iron content, the shards of Majolica are often red. It can however, be made from white clay. Shards in that case tend to be off-white/grey. Sometimes, engobe gets applied to the ceramic first. Majolica is baked with triangular stands. After baking, the stems are broken down and the leftovers are filed away. When the work piece is finished, it’s glazed with a thin glaze covering the top. Lead glaze is used for the bottom.
Majolica can be applied to any type of clay for decoration. It’s a good idea to really think about which design you want to do beforehand. An example of this would be to make outlines in pencil for colouring later. The pencil marks burn away in the oven and are no longer visible. Working on a glazed surface, mistakes are hard to fix. They can only be corrected by dipping it in water so that the glaze comes off.
There are many different brushes you can use to apply Majolica. Soft glaze brushes are ideal for large areas. You can use finer brushes to apply fine lines. Adding extra layers helps to darken the colour. This creates a method for beautiful colour transitions!
Majolica aspect of the Ceramics Course
Majolica is part of my Ceramic Course that is covered in the Decoration Module. In it, you will learn how to apply this decorating technique to your own work.