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Majolica & Lowfire Recipes

from Linda Arbuckle

  majolica pottery by Linda Arbuckle - Biscuit Jar:Plenty
Biscuit Jar: Plenty - Linda Arbuckle

     Majolica Overview | Majolica Recipes | Majolica Bibliography

     Low-Fire Recipes: all are cone 04- 03 unless otherwise noted.


Majolica White Glaze Cone 03 Cone 05
Frit 3124 65.75 58
F-4 feldspar 17.24 20
EPK 10.82 2
Nepheline Syenite 6.24 7
Tin oxide 5 5
Zircopax 10 10
Bentonite 2 2

Majolica Colorant Suggestions:
Mix colorants by VOLUME with gerstley borate to flux. Many stain colors and oxides work well. These are suggestions from my palette. Some majolica artists use Frit 3124 as a flux. Because frit has a sandy texture, it usually requires a vehicle like liquid laundry starch
or better brushing.

One part oxide to one part gerstley borate (GB) for materials that melt well at lowfire temperatures:
green-blue: 1 copper carbonate + 1 gerstley borate

brown: 1 iron (red, black, ochre, crocus martis, et al.) + 1 gerstley borate.  Regardless of raw color of iron, most forms mixed with flux produce    brown colors.

blue: Cobalt carb works but may be more prone to spit in firing than stain, and is pale lavender raw, which is very different from the fired dark blue. Using stain works better for many people.

All other colorants and stains mix 1 part colorant + 3-4 parts GB:

blue: Mason Mazerine 6300 or other blue stain. Vivid Blue is refractory: use 4 GB.

green opaque: chrome oxide. NOTE: use of chrome with high tin glazes can cause tin-opacified white ground color to pink. If this happens, replace some of the tin with zirconium opacifier at 1 tin to 1.5 Zr opacifier. Chrome is refractory. Use 4 GB

rusty orange: rutile. Good mixed with harsh yellows to make them more of a golden color. Refractory: use 4 GB.

bright orange- red: Johnson Matthey or Degussa Inclusion stains. Expensive. Wide firing range. May present limited toxic hazard in foodware.

yellow: Mason vanadium 6404 or Drakenfeld praes.41545 (note: many lovely yellows contain LEAD: read the ingredients)

chartreuse: wet mix 3 parts above prepared yellow + 1 part prepared copper mixtures

pink: Mason Alpine Rose 6001 (cool pink, refractory, use 4 GB), Shell, Rose, Clover, or U.S. Pigments Rose S552

purple: Standard K-42 Orchid or Mason Pansy 6385, or Blackberry Wine, or Mulberry.

grey: O'Hommel 2B 9886 or Mason Neutral

turq.:O'Hommel TU96 or Mason Turq. 6288 . Nice with a dash of copper carbonate added.

mint green: Mason Bermuda 6242

black: Mason 6650 black, US Pigments Midnite, or black oxide mix

crimson: Standard K24 Maroon or Mason Crimson 6004. Crimson colors are brighter using frit 3124 in place of gerstley borate, which brushes better using liquid laundry starch or gum solution in place of water.

NOTE: body stains (e.g. Mason 6020 Pink, Titanium Yellow, and Lavender) are too refractory for majolica surface decoration (even with flux) and leave a pigskinned surface.

Many Amaco Velvet underglazes work well right out of the bottle for decorating on top of majolica base glaze. Mist Grey, Jet Black, Rose,Maroon, Leaf Green and 350 Orange all work well. Amethyst, Violet, Real Orange, Lt. Red, Red are bright colors that work. Too refractory to use: Electric Blue, Pearl Grey, Ivory, Hunter Green, Deep Yellow, Straw, Lt. & Med. Pink . Test others.

Amaco now makes a series of colors specifically for majolica decoration, the GDC series of products. Deep Yellow, Violet, Amethyst, and Cantaloupe are favorites. They work well right from the bottle for decoration on top of the base glaze. Prices for small jars are $3.50-5.75, pints $12 -38.00.


Majolica (Siebert) 06-03

Frit 3124 72

flint 10

EPK 12

zircopax 10

For decorating mix 25% stain or oxide with 75% frit 3124 (adjust for refractoriness of oxide or stain) and a tablespoon of liquid laundry starch. Generally fired to 04. Optional pre-fire to cone 018 to harden base glaze for easier decorating.

For black majolica substitute 8% Mason #6650 black (cobalt free) for the zircopax.

Terry says she occasionally does a soft fire to 018 to sinter the glaze and make it less fragile for working on.

Terry sometimes sprays a very thin coat of clear over her majolica. She says this brightens colors.

Batz Majolica 

frit 3124 100 

barium carbonate 4 

EPK 15 

zircopax 20-24 

Reported to be gas-fireable. Test replacing toxic barium w/0.75 strontium carbonate for 1 barium. 

Andersen Majolica 

frit 3124 55 

ball clay 10 

flint 10 

zircopax 8


frit 3195 35 

frit 3124 44 

EPK 3 

Kona F-4 feldspar 3 

zircopax 4 

tin 11 

bentonite 2

Walter's Majolica 

frit 3124 30 

frit 3195 20 

frit 3134 20 

neph sy 14 

EPK 2 

zircopax 12 

bentonite 2

Emmett's White Base 

neph sy 20 

gerstley borate 30 

frit 3195 30 

EPK 10 

flint 10 

plastic vitrox or 

Cornwall stone 15 

bentonite 2 

+ opacifier

Majolica (M.J./Andrea) 04 

frit 3124 77 

whiting 7 

Kona F-4 spar 14 

EPK 2 

Superpax 15 

+Bentonite 1 

+Epsom Salts .2 

Overglaze colors: 50% stain or oxide, 50% frit 3124, .2 Epsom salts, 1 tsp. Sta Flo liquid starch.

Cochrane Majolica: CM 11/90 

Matthias's Majolica cone 05 

Frit 3124 83.34% 

ball clay 8.33 

EPK 8.33 

+ rutile 1.11% 

Zircopax 11.11 

Wichita Doo-Dah Majolica 

frit 3124 73.3 

ball clay 6.6 

flint 13.3 

zircopax 6.6

Cone 6 Majolica 

gerstley borate 20.68 

neph sy 16.29 

EPK 11.34 

whiting 19.52 

flint 32.16 

zircopax 25 

Add CMC gum if needed to hard-en the surface. Reported to fit cone 10 porcelain fired to cone 6. Use 50 stain/50 frit over. Add CMC or liquid starch for better brushing.

Deep Alkaline Turq. Glaze 

frit 3195 19 

frit 3110 57 

gerstley borate 10 

EPK kaolin 9 

flint 10 

copper carbonate 5 

bentonite 2 

May run if very thick. Pearly thinner, deep, watery turquoise thicker. Crazes. Soft glaze. Great over colored slips. 

Faux Lead Strontium Base 

frit 3110 30.6 

Gerstley borate 33 

EPK 26 

flint 5 

wollastonite 3 

strontium carb. 2.5 

bentonite 2 

Color response similar to lead green and amber. No lead. Colors below look good over slips. 

amber: + 5-7% burnt umber 

transp. grass green: + 4% copper carbonate

Lee's 03 Clear 

gerstley bor. 26 

neph sy 20 

frit 3124 30 

lithium carb 4 

kaolin 10 

flint 10 

Good color response. Tends to craze.

Val's Clear: frosty thicker 

frit 3195 30 

gerstley borate 30 

neph sy 20 

EPK 10 

flint 10 

Cornwall stone 15 

bentonite 2

Shiny Clear 

gerstley borate 55 

EPK 30 

flint 15 

Brushes well. Thin well to dip.

Pete Pinnell 03 Basic Clear 

Frit 3124 70 

strontium carb. 10 

neph sy 10 

ball clay 10 

+ bentonite 2 

dash Epsom salts 

Apply thinly.

Slip color suggestions 

white: 5% zircopax 

deep green: 3% chrome + 3% copper carb. 

yellow: 10% yellow body stain, e.g. Mason 6485 titanium yellow 

blue: 2% cobalt carbonate 

pink: 12-15% pink body stain, e.g. Mason 6020 pink. Can be toned a bit w/2% rutile if desired. 

black: 12-15% black stain or black oxide mix

03-04 Base Slip (white) 

ball clay 40 

kaolin 20 

neph sy 15 

talc 15 

frit 3124 10 

Black Oxide Mix 

20 iron oxide 

15 cobalt 

10 manganese 

5 chrome 

Mix by weight and use like a stain. 

Terracotta: Arbuckle 

Redart 50 

XX Saggar 20 

fireclay 20 

flint 12 

talc 5 

spodumene 3 

neph sy 5 

very fine grog 2 - 8 

barium carb. .5 

Barium is needed to bind soluble salts and thus prevent scumming.

Pete Pinnell's Real Authentic Lip-Smackin' Smooth Easy Terra Sigellata: 

color suggestions added to 1 cup liquid sig: 

white = + 1 tsp. Zircopax or tin. 

off white = + 1 tsp. titanium diox. 

green = + tsp. chrome oxide 

blue = + tsp. cobalt carb. 

black = + 1 tsp. black stain 

purple = + 1 tsp. crocus martis 

In a 5 gal. bucket put 28 lbs (28 pints or 3 gal.) of water. Add 14 lbs. dry clay. XX sagger works well for white base, RedArt for red. Add enough sodium silicate to deflocculate (a few tablespoons). Allow to settle. Overnite is average. Less plastic red clays (such as RedArt or fire clay may require only 6-8 hours, while very plastic clays like XX Sagger or OM4 ball may take up to 48 hours). Remove top - w/o disturbing the mixture (syphon off). This is the sig. . Throw the rest away. Do not reclaim. 

Terra sig is best when the specific gravity if about 1.15. Useful range is 1.1-1.2. Specific gravity is measured by weighting out 100 gms of water, marking the volume, and weighing the same volume of the sig. Divide the weight of the sig by 100. If too thin evaporate. If too thick allow to settle longer. Apply sig to bone dry greenware and buff. Pete uses "patinas" of 1 gerstley borate + 1 colorant as a thin wash over bisqued sigs, applied and rubbed off. Works on textured areas. 

Bibliography and resources

77 Erie Village Square, Suite 280
Erie, Colorado 80516-6996
(266-2322) Toll-Free
303-828-2811 Local
303-828-0911 Fax

National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. Non-profit National/international organization. Sponsors annual conferences around the U.S. (highly recommended!), publishes the NCECA Journal & annual members directory, sponsors a biennial juried Clay National show in conjunction with the conference. Links to other clay resources. NCECA World Wide Web home page:


Colorant suppliers : Sources for ceramics colorant stains other than widely-available Mason stains
Columbus Clay 
1049 w. 5th Ave. 
Columbus, OH 43212 
(614) 294-1114
Write for list of non-Mason stains, like Pemco, O'Hommel, Harshaw, etc. List w/tech info. Prices on these limited quantities are very good. Color often interesting. Samples are $1. ea. and you will have to test.
U.S. Pigments 
135 N. Manchester Lane  Bloomingdale, IL 60108  (800) 453-1674
Ceramic stain manufacturing company. Alternative to Mason stains. Somewhat different palette. Call to buy samples for testing.
Standard Ceramics 
P.O. Box 4435 
Pittsburgh, PA 15205 
(412) 276-6333
Many local suppliers in the east deal with Standard, and will order items not in stock if you ask. Source for Crocus Martis for coloring sigellata, stains. 
4717 W. 16th St. 
Indianpolis, IN 46222 
(800) 374-1600
Amaco now makes a line of majolica decorating colors for use on top of the raw majolica glaze or their opaque white. Some of these colors have been hard to find as direct stains. Deep Yellow, Violet, Amethyst, Cantaloupe, are interesting. Real orange and light red are similar to colors from inclusion stains mentioned below. Colors are more solid, dense than using gerstley borate as a flux. Additives make them brush easily. 
Note: Cookson (formerly Johnson) Matthey and Degussa inclusion stains for bright oranges and reds are available from many suppliers these days. Check w/your local suppliers. ART and Georgie's carry Degussa. Axner in FL ((800) 843-7057) carries JM. Both are comparable, so price may be a deciding factor. 
Electronic resources:
HyperGlaze IIx 
Richard Burkett 
6354 Lorca Dr. 
San Diego, CA 92115

Excellent glaze calc and data program that runs under Hypercard on a Macintosh. See Jan. '92 Ceramics Monthly for review of features. Ordered directly from the author for $60., include name, address, and phone # and type of Macintosh. Order form and more info at: HyperGlaze.com

E-mail Richard about HG at HyperGlaze@sbcglobal.net

Home Page

Information about the organization and pointers to other electronic resources.


ClayArt Computer e-mail discussion group. Access via Internet or Bitnet e-mail systems. To join this LISTSERV discussion group send an e-mail message to LISTSERV@lsv.uky.edu with the message SUBSCRIBE CLAYART Firstname Lastname. NOTE: You must email from your regular email account!
Or contact Joe Molinaro, Art Dept., Campbell 309, E KY Univ., Richmond, KY 40475. Nov. '93 Ceramics Mo. has an article by Rick Malmgren about e-mail resources and getting connected. Since ClayArt gets over 50 posts daily, I recommend setting your mail to DIGEST as described in the Welcome message you receive when you subscribe. Digest gives the day's postings in a group once a day, rather than 50+ individual messages. 

Richard Burkett's San Diego State University World Wide Web site of ceramics information, ClayArt archives, GlazeBase glaze data base, and more. 


Slide files:
500 Fillmore Ave. 
Tonawanda, NY 14150 
(800) 828-7540
Industrial storage supplier. Same 28-drawer slide files sold by photo suppliers (same mfg), much cheaper. Listed as small part cabinet model 19-228 for $47.75. Each drawer reported to hold 200 slides in photo catalog.. Do buy the extra dividers. 
Publications: (many of these are on the web and linked from the CeramicsWeb links pages)
Ceramics: Art and Perception 
35 William St. 
Paddington, NSW 2021 
Quarterly publication, international coverage of contemporary ceramics. Very well done, broad selection of functional and sculptural work and topics. $48. 
Clay Times Magazine 
PO Box 365 
Waterford, VA 20197 
Polly Beach, Editor. e-mail: PBeach1052@AOL.COM 
TEL (540) 882-3576 
FAX (540) 882-4196 
One year is $19.95; 2 yrs. is $36; 3 yrs. is $50. Published 6x per year
Studio Potter Magazine  
Box 70 
Goffstown, NH 03045
US for annual subscription. published 2x/yr with topical issues. V.11 no.2 is an earthenware issue with interviews, recipes, etc. June, '96 v.24 no. 2 features majolica. A great publication. Back issues available.
The Firing Line 
The Orton Foundation 
P.O. Box 460 
Westerville, OH 43081 
Publication bi-monthly of the non-profit Orton Fndn. Covers electric kiln firing and subjects of related interest from hobby items to articles by ceramic engineers. $20. per year to join the Orton Firing Institute and get the publication. Orton also has an electric kiln-firing video that covers basics and trouble-shooting. About $19.95. (800)-999-5442
The Potters Shop 
31 Thorpe Rd. 
Needham Hts., MA 02194 
(617) 449-7687
A very large list of available ceramics-related books, often includes foreign publs. Discounted. Has had an annual Christmas discount sale with even lower prices. Will also order books he doesn't currently carry in many cases. Steve Branfman, the owner, may be reached by e-mail at: SBRANFPOTS@aol.com
Dover Publications 
31 East 2nd St. 
Mineola, NY 11501
Publisher of inexpensive paper bound books, many relating to art and ornament. Some are treasures, like "Art Forms in the Plant World". Write for catalog.
Hacker Art Books 
45 W. 57th St. 
NY, NY 10019
Publishes a sale list of remaindered art books at good prices.
Brushes Overall, look for brushes that are soft, resilient, and hold liquid. Hake brushes, Japanese brushes, and some synthetic brushes work well. Try watercolor brushes as well. Squirrel watercolor brushes & china mops work beautifully, but the good ones are expen$ive. Dagger brushes (short handle, bristles about as long as the handle) are available from many of the major brush manufacturers (E.g. Grumbacher) at art supply outlets and are great for pulled stripes. 
Clay Factory 
804 S. Dale Mabry Ave. 
Tampa, FL 33609 
(800) 942-0444
Clay Factory carries my favorite small dagger brushes (#636) that I like for line work in a variety of sizes: 2, 6, 10, as well as a nice squirrel dagger liner. Inexpensive. Brushes shaped like #636 are flexible and make a thin line with the brush point, but transition nicely to a thicker line if you heel down on the brush while making the stroke. 
Pearl Paint Main store in NYC is art supply heaven. Great brushes, including some expensive squirrel wash brushes, china mops, etc. Pearl now has branches in many major cities. 



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