Friday, July 25, 2014

Freeform Friday: Majolica!

Majolica -
In one word, one style there is so much history culture and tradition...

In my next pair of posts I would like to dazzle you with pictures, place Majolica in art/ceramics history, and show you how I am applying it to a series of pendants and charms. Ready? Cool...

Majolica is a tin glazed pottery - which translates as a colored earthenware clay body, with an opaque white (tin-based) glaze. Decorations are painted on top of the white glaze...
"Tin-glazed pottery is pottery covered in glaze containing tin oxide which is white, shiny and opaque. The pottery body is usually made of red or buff colored earthenware and the white glaze was often used to imitate Chinese porcelain. Tin-glazed pottery is usually decorated, the decoration applied to the unfired glaze surface by brush as metallic oxides... The makers of Italian tin-glazed pottery from the late Renaissance blended oxides to produce detailed and realistic polychrome paintings.

The earliest tin-glazed pottery appears to have been made in Iraq in the 9th century... From there it spread to Egypt, Persia and Spain before reaching Italy in the Renaissance, Holland in the 16th century and England, France and other European countries shortly after." (Thanks Wiki)

1. Dish with bird, in Islamic-derived style, Orvieto, ca.1270-1330
2. A Hispano-Moresque dish, with Christian monogram "IHS", . Valencia, c.1430-1500.

3.Iznik dish - British Museum. Dated 1540-1550.
4. Persian Pottery from the city Isfahan, 17th century.

Tracing its history is an amazing cultural trek across the Medieval landscape. And I love that kind of thing... Persian pottery ---- Islamic Moorish Spain---Renaissance Italy---then a jump to the left  (Is the Time Warp playing in your head now?) and into Victorian England where they really change it up... It's Maiolica in Italy. It's Faience in France. It's talavera in Mexico... I can't get enough!
1. An albarello (drug jar) from Venice or Castel Durante, 16th century. Approx 30cm high
2.  plate depicting the birth of Venus, by Francesco Xanto Avelli of Rovigo, 1533
3. Coppa amatoria depicting Elena Bella, majolica, from Castel Durante, Urbino, c. 1540–50
storiato decoration on a plate fromCastel Durante, c.1550-1570

1. detail of plate by William de Morgan Victorian era/late 1800's
2. G Jones majolica quail game tureen 
3. from Pinterest... sorry no details.
4. 19thc Victorian French Majolica Palissy Ware. Pike Fish Platter
And the modern contemporary era? Yes, many current potters are still using the age-old techniques in new ways, with modern aesthetic sensibilities! 
1&3 - Posey Bacopoulos
2 &4 - Linda Arbuckle

Are your eyes dazzled yet? Do you want to time travel to the Middle Ages and serve an apprenticeship? ( I do, but I'm an art history geek like that...)

Majolica isn't for everyone. Some pieces is so over the top, so ornate, so colorful. Embellished to a crazy place. But, you ask... where is the connection to Art Jewelry? 

Let me leave you with a teaser for my next post in 2 weeks. I have majolica pieces in progress - pendants and charms. These are part of the all-encompassing countdown to Beadfest. Stay tuned in 2 weeks - to see the results. I promise to post them - whether they are good, bad, ugly, or over embellished! 

Until then - have a colorful weekend.



  1. I loved this post. I learned a lot. I didn't realize, for example, that it crossed so many different cultures. I can't wait to see what you are working on! Looking forward to your next post!

    1. Thanks Linda - You should see what my students did at Clay Camp! Some of them so loved the project - it was very meditative for them to have a blank plate and color and brushes... the designs were wonderful!

      I kept this post pared down. At first I was writing a book. LOL

  2. I loved the post and can't wait to see your interpretation of Maiolica. As a prepare to leave Okinawa I know some of my favorite memories are those where I learned the traditional way they created so many handcrafts like bingata, lacquerware, and Ryukyu glass and silver. Thanks for opening up another window into art of the past for me. I look forward to your modern interpretation.

    1. Happy to do it Ginger! I was trying to self edit this post as I was on the verge of writing an essay. I have always loved art history and how it informs the present. And I am passionate about keeping folk arts and traditions alive... You time in Okinawa sounds pretty amazing.

  3. I can hardly wait to see them. Thanx

    1. Hee Hee. And I will post the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nothing like blog readers to help hold a girl accountable!

  4. I had a little "paint-your-own-pottery" adventure once at a local art studio, and this was exactly the kind of pottery that made me want to do it. Spectacular! Can't wait to see your rendition!

  5. Wish you were closed Keirsten - pottery studio, glazes, music, glass of wine! Would be fun!

  6. I have always loved that style and have a tea pot with it but I didn't realize that it crossed so many cultures. Thank your for the lesson and I can hardly wait to see what you come up with.


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