The making of Artistica's Majolica
All our original Majolica products are hand-made and hand painted by master artisans from the cities of Deruta and Florence in the Italian regions of Umbria and Tuscany, for centuries known as "Lands of Saints and Poets".
Our products results from a splendid heritage of dedication and artistic tradition, passed down
"from father to son" by ancient artisan families.
The creation of Majolica is a complex event, involving skillful master artisans who understand the
content of the quality raw materials used in their work.
From small, simply decorated dishes to large "Orcio" Tuscan urns in the 16th Century style, every successful
piece is the product of a "Five-Step" process.
 


Step One

 
"IL TORNIANTE" (The Potter):
In a process used for centuries, the art of Majolica begins with a plain lump of refined clay that is slowly brought to life by "Il Torniante". Masterfully hand-shaping the raw chunk of clay on a wheel, the potter transforms it into a vessel, a plate or a large urn. The molded clay piece is referred to as "In Terra" (Green ware) and is placed in the open air for natural drying. It dries to a grayish color, and is ready for its first firing in the kiln.

Step Two

 

"LA PRIMA COTTURA" (The First Firing):
The naturally dried piece is then loaded into the kiln to be processed at the "Prima Cottura". The clay item that emerges from the kiln after this first 950-degree firing is referred to as "Biscotto" (Bisque), a baked terracotta piece featuring the typical red color.

Step Three

 
"LA SMALTATURA" (The Glazing):
Once cooled, the Bisque is dipped into the "Smalto", a fast drying chalky liquid glaze. This step, while simply described, represents an important part of the entire process because the next firing will melt the glaze with the colors, determining color tones, glazing texture, and uniform quality of the piece. The chemical composition of the "Smalto" is complex and every factory has it's own formula that is kept very secret! The Bisque, now wholly covered by the white powdery glaze, is ready for painting.

Step Four

 
"LA PITTURA" (The Painting):
The painstaking process of painting the Bisque is the essence of Majolica. The Painter, "Il Pittore", may paint a decoration freehand, or use a type of pounce, "Spolvero", to stencil sketches of the design. This fine powder prevents the colors from spreading and blurring into each other. The painter must fully understand the complexities of coloration, as the raw glazes used for painting all have a very similar Gray/Black tone. The true and brilliant colors will be produced only after the finished product emerges from the final kiln firing.

Step Five

 
"LA SECONDA COTTURA" (The Second Firing):
In this final step, the painted item is loaded again onto the kiln for a second firing at about 920-degrees.
This delicate process requires great care to avoid scratching or touching any item to be fired.
Since the painting was done over the "chalky" Smalto surface, it can literally be wiped out by a simple touch of a thumb! The final firing may take up to 24 hours. Depending on the size of the item(s), the ceramics may require up to 12 hours of firing at a constant high temperature. It is very important that the "cool-off" period be a "natural" cooling. The kiln's safe-type door must not be opened until the temperature is low enough to avoid "thermal shock", which would literally destroy (crack) the entire kiln load.

The finished product emerges from this final firing, its brilliant colors safely
|protected by a robust and uniform glaze. 
It is a Majolica piece!
A prestigious name earned with this centuries-old process!


 Click here to learn more about Majolica's History