Majolica glaze is a white tin or zinc-based glaze that provides a smooth coating on terracotta clay and acts as a perfect foil for underglaze decorations which are painted on top of the Majolica glaze. The beauty of the Majolica is that it doesn’t move, so anything you paint on top of it stays put. For an explanation of the process, press here and here.
Here are some classic examples: tiles from Portugal.
So I probably should not have been delighted when I took this out of the kiln.
And yet, I was. To be fair, I didn’t start off conventionally. I took a terracotta bud vase, dipped it in a cone 04 dipping glaze called Ice Blue (you can get the recipe in a free booklet on the Ceramic Arts Network site here. )
The glaze has chunks in it and it’s supposed to run and collect in crevices. It can look interesting when you use it on white earthenware (see right) and beyond boring over terracotta (middle).
We have a bucket of Majolica glaze in the studio and I decided to experiment. I had to dip the vase three times to get a good coat, letting the glaze dry completely between coats. You can see the crackling and crazing from the Ice Blue glaze in the right hand picture below that might have looked interesting had it been on the right kind of clay.
I let the glaze dry overnight before adding the underglaze decoration.
And here’s what I got! This was fired at cone 06. I surmise that the Majolica and the underglaze shifted because the Ice Blue glaze beneath it moved. I am not sure what I expected. Not everyone will like this, but for me it was a pleasant surprise.