Ceramic - Pottery Dictionary

by Susan Mussi

ca: MAJÒLICA: 1 - Fitxer de dades

es: MAYÓLICA: 1 – Fichero de datos

As the Majolica method is so extensive, it is split into sections which are filed so that different items on the same subject are grouped together. Below is a short synopsis of them, presented in the same order as they appear in the dictionary. The sections on a subject are linked in the order of working.

There are two files on the history of the Majolica Method Majolica: 2a – History / Majolica: 2b – History in Spain

Majolica: 3 – Decorating Is an introduction to Majolica painting and shows the stages of working with a design of nine tiles in blue.

The different ways of using the Majolica Method are explained in seven sections; the first is Majolica: 4a – Layout of one tile designs and the last Majolica: 4g – Relief in four different thicknesses.

Majolica decorating is in four groups, tiles, plates, jars and lids. This is the first file on this subject Majolica: 5a – Preparing to paint and applies to all four groups. At the end of this is a link to the first section of each one.

After lids you will find subjects connected with the Majolica Method of painting; paint brushes, colors, colors preparing, colors how to use, colors for outlines, colors using, colors painting with one color, colors painting with colors,

ca: MAJÒLICA: 2a - Història

es: MAYÓLICA: 2a – Historia

The Arabs conquered Spain in 714 AD, but technical knowledge about ceramic decorating did not reach the country until three centuries later. It is believed that it started at the beginning of the 9th century in Iraq, in the towns of Basra and Chuff. In the 9th century in Samarra, a town one hundred and fifty kilometers from Baghdad, they began producing large quantities of decorated ceramics. Their work was exported to Algeria, to the West, and Persia, to the East, where remains of it have been found.

In 969 AD, the Fatimids, whose capital was near Kairouan, now Tunisia, conquered Fustat, where they ruled for two hundred years and completely rebuilt the town. Fustat is the old name for Cairo, Egypt. It became a central crossroad for the Arab world. With Persia and Arabia on one side, the Mediterranean Africa on the other, and the neck of the Nile as a port to the Mediterranean and the rest of Europe, Fustat became an important town and provided work for craftsmen and artisans. A great deal of high-standard work was made and exported. It is believed it was from there that it moved on to begin in Europe starting in Malaga, which was then the main port for Islamic Spain, whose capital was Granada.

With the continuous wars during the Fatimid occupation in the 10th and 11th centuries, the craftsmen of Fustat were forced to move elsewhere to maintain their livelihood. The siege of 1169 AD resulted in the destruction of the town and the collapse of the Fatimid dynasty. The craftsmen lost their patrons and by the end of the 12th century the tradition had virtually disappeared. It is thought it could have been brought to Malaga from Egypt, by way of the Muslim settlements in the Mediterranean islands, which were on the trade route between both. Majorca was one of them and it is believed is where the name came from.

Boabdil, the last Arab ruler, was eight years old when he became the leader of the Arab kingdom in Spain. This was the start of the Arab settlement’s economic decline and with it the ceramic industry of Malaga. It had already spread to Valencia, the earliest record of it being made in Manises, Valencia. By the end of the 14th century, it had become a flourishing industry, still using the same production methods and the traditional Arab scripts and symbolism for decoration.

It started to be made in other towns, such as Talavera and Barcelona. The trade was in the hands of the local merchants, but Moorish craftsmen, who had moved from Andalusia to live and work in the peaceful and prosperous Christian kingdoms made this possible. The number of makers increased, as it was now being made not only for the wealthy families, but also for merchants, townspeople, religious communities, and was exported to the Mediterranean and the Low Countries. With this expansion, the Moorish traditions in decoration were gradually changing and being replaced with Christian motives. Early red-gold ware was gradually changing with the increase in production and cheaper materials, the colors could now be made without valuable metals. Plates, pots, tiles for walls, floors, and ceilings were all being produced with blue, a popular and predominant color.

Tiles in churches and private houses started to show figurative conventions It became an illustrated method of informing the illiterate public, decorations on church walls told Bible stories; chemist’s pots were decorated with plants and their Latin names; craftsmen and workmen doing everyday jobs were depicted; tiles showed the process of making wine, bread, oil, and many other specialties.

Then, in 1492, came the re-conquest and the Muslims became the alien minority in Spain. From then on until 1609, with the Inquisition, the entire Muslim population was banished. This affected families who had worked for centuries in carving, leather, iron-work, building, pottery, and every other craft. With this loss and competition from other countries, the ceramic industry in Spain was greatly affected.

The Majolica method started to be produced in Italy in the 15th century in the towns of Deruta and Gubbio and it became known as Maiolica; this change in spelling came about because “j” did not exist in the Italian language. To start with, it was greatly influenced by the Valencia style, leaving the background white, using similar figures, animals and borders, but they gradually developed it, creating beautifully different designs and colors. Using a dark background and the colors in a much more subtle way, the Italians became perfectionists in their work, in contrast to the more free and liberal brush-strokes used in Spain. It spread to other parts of Europe in the 16th century: Holland where it was known as Delft, France as Faience and then to England in the 17th century, where it lasted about one hundred and fifty years and was known by the name of Lambeth and now is known as Majolica.

In the nineteenth century Spain was affected by the disaster of the Napoleonic wars and the beginning of the industrial revolution. In England in 1750, transfers were invented. At the same time England, France and the States, using the Majolica Methods, were inventing the first industrial ways of mass production. They were making jars, plates, statues and tiles. The industry sprang up in many parts of England, the main town being Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

The first World Industrial Fair was held in London in 1851; it was an international success and influenced all the crafts in both industrial and artistic ways, showing new designs and methods of working. This trend lasted until about 1910 and nowadays, every piece made during that period has become a trophy for the collectors. What is strange is that at this time, in Spain, the last great ceramic business opened using the classical designs and methods. It was in 1908 in Talavera, and was known as Ruiz de Luna, named after its owner. It was internationally known and they exported to America and many other parts of the world. At the end of 1951 it closed, but the town now has a superb museum which displays the work of this firm and the private collection the owner made during his lifetime. The factories are now all industrial, not like before, when hundreds of men worked by hand. There are now a few small firms that continue working on this craft.

Note: Majolica History has 2 sections, to go to the next click on Majolica: 2b – History in Spain

ca: MAJÒLICA: 2b -- La seva Història a Espanya

es: MAYÓLICA: 2b – Su Historia en España

Ceramics have always been popular in Spain and earthenware pottery has existed for thousands of years. First Iberian pottery; later Greek and Roman; then, with the conquest of the Arabs came the methods of Luster and Majolica.

What makes the Majolica method different from others is that bisque (already fired clay) is covered with an opaque glaze-base and decorated with metallic oxide glaze colors. They are both fired togather, this blends the colors that overlap each other forming other colors and the result is a brightly colored, glossy surface that maintains and enhances the lines, colors and quality of the decoration.

The metals used were gold, silver, tin, platinum and copper. Silver and copper created brown, orange and red, which sometimes appeared so dark as to look black. The Majolica method developed, changing and evolving, new ways of making colors were found, without having to use expensive metals, so work became cheaper and quicker. In each pottery company the preparation of colors was a specialty and top secret. The employer, who made and prepared the colors to be used, had the job of measuring and keeping account of the quantities given out to the workers who decorated the ware.

In locations where the earth was suitable for making clay, many ceramic firms became established. In the past each firm went through the whole process, from taking the clay out of the ground to decorating and firing the finished pieces. The workers were always employed in the same section so that they became specialists and quick in their work. The clay, after being dug out of the ground, was mixed with water and screened to clean, removing all insoluble material. The water was then filtered off, the clay left until it reached a semi-dry state, then cut into large separated blocks and left in caves, sometimes for up to two years, as ageing helps to improve the plasticity.

Before being used, the clay had to be well kneaded to form a smooth plastic body, suitable for throwing and molding tiles, pots and plates. For the first firing, the pieces made in clay had to be left until they were bone dry. In Spain, the kilns used for firing were known as Arab Kilns and they created the heat by wood firing. They were large brick structures with two floors. The bottom floor of the kiln was for the wood-fire and the top for the objects going to be fired. The firing time depended on the size of the kiln and could take up to 24 hours. It started with a low fire which gradually heated up until it reached the required temperature and this point was judged by looking through the pin-holes to see the color of the heat and slipping out test pieces to see the evolution of a colored glaze. The timing with clay is not too important as slightly over-firing does not affect it, but with colors, over-firing can completely destroy all the work in the kiln.

The firing process demanded men to work non-stop, filling the kiln with wood, checking that the temperature was continuously increasing at the same degree throughout the kiln. When the kiln reached the correct temperature it was left to cool, opened, and each piece was taken out, checked for deformed shapes, uneven surfaces which had to be filed down and sounded for breakages. Damaged pieces that could not be used commercially were broken up and put into walls that were being built to strength them. Some can be seen in the walls of the Cathedral of Barcelona.

It became a popular product and started being made in other towns, such as Talavera and Barcelona. The trade was in the hands of the local merchants, but Moorish craftsmen, who had moved from Andalusia to live and work in the peaceful and prosperous Christian kingdoms increased their work, as it was not only for the wealthy families, but also for merchants, townspeople, religious communities, and was exported to the Mediterranean and the Low Countries. With this expansion, the Moorish traditions in decoration were gradually changing and being replaced with Christian motives.

With the increase in production and cheaper materials, the colors could now be made without valuable metals. Plates, pots, tiles for walls, floors, and ceilings were all being produced with blue, a popular and predominant color. The word “azulejo”, which means tile in Spanish, originates from this tradition. “Azul” means blue and “lejos” means far off. Today, “azulejo” means tile and, translated literally, means blue-distance, a color to be seen from far off.

Tiles in churches and private houses started to show figurative conventions. It became an illustrated method of informing the illiterate public, decorations on church walls told Bible stories; chemist’s pots were decorated with plants and their Latin names; craftsmen and workmen doing everyday jobs were depicted; tiles showed the process of making wine, bread, oil, and many other specialties. Products in ceramics were being produced for daily use by all the public.

Note: Majolica History has 2 sections, to go to the first click on Majolica: 2a – History

ca: MAJÒLICA: 3 - Decoració

es: MAYÓLICA: 3 - Decoración

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This section show one of the most important parts of the Majolica method of painting; the brush strokes and the variations and intensities of a color.
On these tiles only one color is used, blue of different strengths. First the outlines are painted then the different shades of blue are added. The movement of the brush strokes and the overlapping of shades gives form to the design. When finished, the glaze-base and decoration are fired together and vitrify at 980ºC., which turns the glaze-base into an opaque layer of glass, preventing the bisque from being porous and accentuating the colors.

In the last photo,where the tile is fired, you can see some superb painting and how important the brush strokes are, they give form and strength.

Read more about: Blue / Majolica: Colors (f) Painting with one color.

Note: The name Majolica at one time covered everything decorated with this method but things have changed and now it is known as in-glaze. The following sections Majolica: 4a to Majolica: 4g explain different ways of using it and Majolica: 5a to Majolica: 5j are all linked and go through the method of decorating step by step.

ca: MAJÒLICA: 4a - Dissenys d'una rajola

es: MAYÓLICA: 4a - Diseños de un azulejo

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This and the following seven sections show different ways of working with this method.

You can make tile designs in two ways; put tiles together to form one picture or design each tile with a complete illustration. With both methons you can mix subjects and make up pictures to the size and shape you want. There are three different sizes in tiles 15×15, 20×15 and 20×20cm.


ca: MAJÒLICA: 4b - Textures d'esmalt base i contorns accentuats.

es: MAYÓLICA: 4b - Texturas de esmalte base y contornos acentuados.

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Two of the five different names designed for the outside entrances of a group of apartment buildings, to make each one distinguishable from the road. The glaze-base has a texture formed by throwing a fine coat of glaze-base over the tiles and then a thick glaze is spattered on top. The border lines are part of the tiles. To accentuate the outlines, which form the perimeter of the letters and the main object, the glaze-base was scraped off leaving an indent of 1cm wide showing the bisque, which was then painted with black, the rest was painted following the Majolica Method.


Note: Majolica Decorating has 8 sections, to go to the next click on MAJOLICA: 4c – Stenciling.

Read more about: Dry cord / Glaze-base (m) Textures / Glaze-base (n) Textures with added substances / Glaze-base (o) Textures with colors

ca: MAJÒLICA: 4c – Estergit

es: MAYÓLICA: 4c - Estarcido

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Stenciled tiles made for the restoration of a corridor.
a) The corridor was about 100 meters long. The original tiles were produced in the early 1900´s using the Majolica method. The tiles were prepared with an opaque base on to which the different stencils were laid, colored and painted. The design consists of 4 different tile designs; each one measures 20 × 20 cm.

Stenciled tiles made for a kitchen.
b) A stencil in blue, copied from an old tile design to use in a modern kitchen, the tiles are 20 × 20 cm.

Stenciling has five sections that are all linked, this is the first: Stencil: (1) With one color

ca: MAJÒLICA: 4d – Disseny repetit

es: MAYÓLICA: 4d - Diseños repetidos.

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A REPETITIVE DESIGN with photos showing one and 16 tiles

A one-tile design which when rotated forms a pattern.
The photos are of two classical designs painted in polychrome and monochromatic blue. Hundreds of this type of design can be found throughout Spain. The big photos have 16 tiles, to show the rotation of the design, which creates the pattern. It is the same design in polychrome and blue and next to them is one tile of each color.
Read more about: Repeated tiles

ca: MAJÒLICA: 4e - Lletres buidades i sanefa com a part de les rajoles.

es: MAYÓLICA: 4e - Letras vaciadas y cenefa como parte de los azulejos.

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LA GARRAFA (Name of a restaurant) The tiles were prepared with a glaze-base, then the border, which is an integral part of the perimeter of the tiles, and the letters were marked on with vegetable-ash. The glaze-base which formed the letters was scraped off and the spaces were filled up with a red glaze, leaving a thin line showing the bisque between the white glaze-base and the red. The line was scraped and cleaned to measure 1cm in width.

Using a large soft brush and clean water, first the rough edge of glaze-base round the letters was smoothed out, then the edge of the red letters. The space was then painted over with black, so as to accentuate the letters. The rest of the design was decorated in the Majolica method and fired at 980º C. The tiles are 15×15cm and the total size 60×165cm.

TERRACUITA; name of a ceramic shop. The tiles are 20×20cm and have been cut down to fit into the architectural setting. They were then prepared with an opaque glaze-base, the brown letters and tile were decorated using the Majolica method, the glaze-base of the dark blue letters was scraped off, then filled with the color and they were all fired together at 980º C.
Read more about: Dry cord /Borders (7) On tiles

ca: MAJÒLICA: 4f - Colors cuits a dues temperatures

es: MAYÓLICA: 4f - Colores cocidos a dos temperaturas

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The SHIELD and the BOAT; decorated with the same methods.
The shield has nine pieces and the boat seven; they are in flat relief except for the parts round the edge. Fired three times and decorated in the same way; the shapes were first molded in refractory clay and fired at 850º C. Then the background of the shield and the anchor and rope of the boat were decorated and fired for the second time with colors that vitrified at 1280º C. Even the undecorated pieces were fired, to make sure the shrinking and change of color of the clay would be the same throughout.
The crown and shield and the picture of the boat were then decorated using the Majolica method and these pieces were fired for the third time at 980º C. Overall dimensions of both are approximately 75 × 90cm.

ca: MAJÒLICA: 4g - Relleu pla de gruixos diferents.

es: MAYÓLICA: 4g - Relieve plano de grosores diferentes.

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TAURO (Taurus)

There are five pieces of flat relief of four different thicknesses made in refractory clay, It was rolled out to the heights needed, then each piece was cut to the required size and then shaped by hand so the pieces would fit together. It was all bisque fired at 1200º C then decorated using the Majolica method and finally fired again at 980º C.

a) TAURO; the clouds on the left and right are the thinnest, then the piece with the RO, then TAU; then the thickest, the bull. The letters are dug out so that they are at a lower level than the clouds.
b) GEMINIS; is made in five pieces, figures, grass and the three others that carry the name.

ca: Majòlica: 5a – Preparació per pintar rajoles, plats, gerros i tapadores.

es: Mayólica: 5a – Preparación para pintar azulejos, platos, jarros y tapaderas.

To see photos of work finished go to: Tiles / Plates / Jars / Lids

This section covers the steps you should follow and the equipment needed to work with tiles, plates, jars and lids, using the Majolica method. The decorating of each one is then explained separately and at the bottom of this section there is a link to the first part of each one; tiles, plates, jars and lids

What you need to work with.
a) Hand pole f) Cloth g) Pot – Water cleaning brushes h) Brushes: Majolica painting i) Pots – Prepared colors j) Bottle – For clean water k) Table-trolly.

For tiles, plates, jars and lids the order of work is the same in each case and the following paragraph summarizes these stages.

The clay has to be bisque fired then each piece has to be sounded, tiles, and plates, jars and lids. Then the tiles, and plates, jar and lids are cleaned. The opaque glaze-base is prepared and tested for thickness. It is then applied to tiles by pouring. When they are dry the unwanted glaze has to be cleaned off the backs and sides of the tiles. If it is a large design each tile must be numbered and coded on the back to know the layout. The plates, jars and lids have the glaze applied by dipping. With them the footings must be cleaned and the signature or trademark is written on the bottom and the designs must be prepared, printed on transparent paper and pounced. When this is done you can start painting.

The next section on tiles is a video; Majolica: 5a – Video Tiles: Preparing the design to paint.

The next section on plates; Majolica: 5e – Preparing to paint plates.

The next section on jars; Majolica: 5g – Painting jars

The next section on lids; Majolica: 5i – Painting lids

ca: MAJÒLICA: 5b – Preparant rajoles per a treballar

es: MAYÓLICA: 5b - Azulejos el proceso de trabajo

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To see photos of large tile designs go to: Majolica: 5d – 12 Tile Designs

The following covers the process of painting tiles and the illustrations are of a one tile design. In the following section working with thirty tiles is explained.

a) Hand pole
b) Tile stand
c) Tile
d) Borders – Support for tiles.
e) Wooden bar – Tile support
f) Cloth
g) Pot – Water cleaning brushes
h) Brushes – Majolica painting
i) Pots – Prepared colors
j) Bottle – For clean water
k) Table-trolley

The products you need to work with and prepare the tiles to paint are explained in the following section. Read more about: MAJOLICA: 5a – Preparing to paint tiles, plates, jars and lids

Preparing to paint.
Along the stand first put a line of measuring the same length as what you are going to paint. This creates a space between the tiles at the bottom of the design and the bar that supports them, so that when products that are being used fall, they collect on top of the bar, against the border and do not touch and damage the prepared tiles. On top of the bisque tiles, place the ones that have been prepared to work with. If it is a large picture, start to paint at the top and work downwards, so if you drop any paint it falls on an undecorated part and it will be easier to clean. With a large picture, one usually sits while painting the bottom rows and stands for the ones at the top.

If it is a small design you work sitting down and put more bisque tiles on the large board, so the height of what you are working on is comfortable. Alternatively, use a tile stand that can be put on top of a table and which is made to hold up to six tiles vertically or horizontally.

The process of working:
There are seven stages for preparing and decorating tiles. The following photos show the last five, as photos for the first two stages, a bisque tile and a tile with the glaze-base, are not needed. The first two photos apply to both decorating in blue and with colors and are followed by six photos, three showing the stages in blue and three with colors.

The following photos show the stages of using colors.

Author – Susan Mussi

ca: MAJÒLICA: 5c - Les etapes de la pintura de rajoles

es: MAYÓLICA: 5c – Las etapas de la pintura de azulejos

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The followimg explains the stages of using colors.
With a large picture it is better to start by painting the top lines of tiles, so if the colors fall on the ones underneath the cleaning is becomes easier as there are only outlines. The last colors to be painted are the skin and the ground because they are very clear and watered down colors.

To learn how these colors are prepared go to: Majolica: Colors (a) / Majolica: Colors (c) How to use / Majolica: Colors (e) Using.

White on the left is the lightest color, it extenuates the form. Two colors overlapping form another color which can vary, depending on the strength.

SHIRTS, SALT, TROUSERS, TROUSER TURN-UPS, BOTTLE –Watered-down blue cobalt painted leaving the white base on the left, then shaded with the same color but stronger.
PORRONS – Watered-down blue cobalt painted and also shaded with it. The wine is purple of different intensities shaded with the blue.
WHEELS OF THE CART- The outside painted with watered-down blue cobalt and the inside with watered-down strong brown.
TROUSERS, CAT’S PLATEBlue cobalt watered down to cover the whole part and then shaded with the same color, but stronger.
WOOD OF THE GRAPE CARRIER AND TROUSERS OF 3 MENDirty brown shaded with dark brown.
GROUND – Watered down brown dirty shaded with brown red
HATS, BELTS, ROOFS, TOMATOES – Covered with red and shaded with brown-red.
TWO SHIRTS AND THE BOY’S JERSEYYellow watered down, shaded with light green.
OIL BOTTLE AND PORRON – Leaving patches of white base, it is painted with watered-down strong green and shaded with the same color, but stronger.
TREE TRUNKS, GRAPE CARRIER, HORSE’S BRIDLE, CANE, GROUND RIGHT HAND CORNER, BREAD CRUST, STOOLS, CORKSOchre strong to cover the whole part and shaded with brown-red. HOUSESOchre and dirty green watered down, to give shading and textures to the house walls. SKIN – Watered down ochre.
SHIRT (3rd tile left) – Leaving patches of white base on the left, it is painted with watered down purple, shaded with strong purple and a little strong brown.
GRAPES – Paint a stroke of watered-down blue on the right of each grape, leaving a small line of white on the right and a large patch on the left. With yellow cover the patch on the edge of the blue and leaving white on the left, with purple cover the right leaving a little yellow and white.
SKY – Watered-down turquoise of different intensities, leaving the white base as a contrast.
DRESS, HORSE – Watered down turquoise shaded with watered-down strong brown.
TREES – Covered with yellow, shaded with light green and then dark green.
SHIRTS, BASKETSYellow is painted leaving the white base on the left. It is then shaded with ochre and brown-red.
SHIRTS, SKIRT, HORSE REINS, BREAD CRUST – Covered with yellow and shaded with ochre and brown-red.
SHIRTS AT THE BOTTOM LEFTYellow is painted leaving the white base on the left, it is then shaded with red and brown-red.
CART BASKET, WOODEN BOX, WHITE OF BREAD, HAT – Covered with watered – down yellow and shaded with watered – down strong brown.

OUTLINES: a) Outlines,
THE TWO TOP LINES: b) First colors, c) Second colors. d) Third colors,
THE THREE BOTTOM LINES: e) First colors, f) Second colors, g) Third colors. h) Picture finished
PICTURE FIRED: i) Picture fired, j) Picture fired and framed

ca: MAJOLICA: 5d - 12 Dissenys de rajoles.

es: MAYÓLICA: 5d - 12 Diseños de azulejos,

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This section has twelve photos of tile designs to show just a few of the many possibilities there are for using the same method in different ways.

ca: MAJÒLICA: 5e – Plats preparació per pintar-los

es: MAYÓLICA: 5e – Platos preparación para pintarlos

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a) Plate stand`
b) Plate
c) Foam rubber
d) Table shelf


There are hundreds of plate designs that can be used; here I am referring to the ones in this section. When painting plates, you stand while banding them and use a banding-bar and when you paint them you sit and use a hand pole. While working attach a banding bar to the edge of the table, put the plate on the banding wheel and center it.

Turn the wheel with your left hand, hold the bar the little finger of your right one hold the bar with your little finger and between your thumb and index finger hold a soft lead pencil, just touching the plate, so that on turning the wheel it draws a line. This design needs three lines. Work out the correct spacing for the border that falls between the first two lines. There are two designs and each one is repeated 6 times, mark the 12 spaces with a pencil line. With a marking bag first mark the center design, then the borders.

Center the plate on the wheel, place it correctly near the banding-bar and in the same way as you drew the banding lines, paint the three lines needed for the design. On your table shelf you must have a plate stand or a solid object to put the plate the right way up at about 80º, so you can balance it against a stand and on top of a bit of foam rubber to avoid damaging it and to stop it from slipping. First paint all the outlines then the center with colors, using a hand pole to steady your hand. It is easier to paint the border the right way up, holding the plate with one finger on each side and turning it. When finished put it back on the wheel, center it, and repair the edge with the glaze-base and if the design has a line round the edge of the plate, paint it. This part is always the last to be painted. Move it to where you keep it and lift it up by putting your fingers underneath. You can touch the glaze-base but not any part that has been painted.

Plates and designs for plates can vary in many different ways; in structure, size and shape and can be of one design or with a center, border and banding. In the section Borders (3) Plate structure there are two completely different designs (c) and (d) on the same type of plate.

Keep all your drawings for plates and file them in two sections, one for the centers and one for the borders; they can be used together and also on jars.

The following sections are in the order of working with plates. Read more about: Bisque (4) Sounding plates, jars and lids / Bisque (5) Cleaning plates, jar and lids / Glaze-base (g) Applying by dipping plates, jar and lids / Glaze-base (h) Cleaning the glaze-base on plates, jars and lids. / Borders (3) Plate structure / Borders (4) Plates Designing / Borders (5) Plate spacing designs / Borders (6) Plate Painting

ca: MAJÒLICA: 5f – Dotze plats decorats

es: MAYÓLICA: 5f – Doce platos decorados

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This section has twelve photos of plate designs, to show just a few of the many possibilities there are for using the same method in different ways.

ca: Majòlica: 5g – Pintar Gerros.

es: Mayólica: 5g – Pintar jarros

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a) Tile-Shelf
b) Banding wheel
c) Banding bar

Working process
1) Place what you are decorating on the banding wheel what you are decorating and center it. To mark the banding lines put the wheel so it is at the correct distance from the banding bar. Turn the wheel with your, hold the bar with the little finger of your other hand and the pencil between your first finger and thumb so it touches the jar where you want the line drawn. If correct when turned, the two ends of the line should meet. Use a pencil with very soft lead, rub and flatten it on one side so you can mark the lines needed for colored bands and place the designs without damaging the base.

2) Calculate the spacing for the designs and mark them with a pencil line. Calipers can be used or a piece of paper cut or marked with the right size.

3) All the parts of the design are prepared on transparent paper and pounced. Hold them one by one in the correct place against the edge of the jar and rub it with the marking bag filled with charcoal powder. Do this until all the different parts of the design have been marked on.

4) Jars can be straight or curved, the designs are difficult to mark and even more so if they curve vertically and horizontally, as shown in the illustration. The transparent paper has to be well darted on all sides to fit in and you need the assistance of a third hand, one to steady the jar, one to hold the prepared design and one to rub it with a marking bag. A design can be repeated around a jar, there can be different designs on each side or just the name of a medicinal plant.

5) Paint all the banding lines with the different colors and widths, work in the same way as when using a pencil. The neck of the jar slants, so the design has to be wider at the bottom than at the top. To avoid this, lines are banded around this part, which makes the neck to be painted straighter. The first photo shows this.

6) Sit down to paint with the table-trolley prepared with everything and a hand-pole to steady your hand while working.

7) First paint all the outlines, giving them shape and form and then add the colors.

Moving a jar that has been decorated can be done in two ways;
a) Use a tile-shelf as a tray.
b) Put your hand inside the neck and with the pressure of your fingers against the walls you can pick it up. If it is heavy use one finger from your other hand to support it underneath. This is very practical for putting work into a kiln if it opens at the top, you can just slip your hand holding the jar inside the kiln and then see that it does not touch anything on any side.

The following photos go through the way of working.

Read more about: Bisque (4) Sounding plates, jars and lids / Bisque (5) Cleaning plates, jar and lids / Glaze-base (g) Applying by dipping plates, jar and lids / Glaze-base (h) Cleaning the glaze-base on plates, jars and lids. / Band / Banding (1) Working Process / Centering – Banding

ca: MAJÒLICA: 5h – Dotze fotografies de Albarels - Pots de farmàcia

es: MAYÓLICA: 5h – Doce fotografías de Albarelos - Botes de farmacia

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This section consists of twelve photos showing many jar designs just a few of the possibilities there are for using the same method in different ways.

ca: MAJÒLICA: 5i – Pintada tapes

es: MAYÓLICA: 5i - Pintando tapas

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To see a close-up of the two lids in this section; click on the title. To see more photos of lids, go to: Majolica: 5j – Lids – to see 12 different ones.

Working process of the first lid:
1) Put the lid on top of a tile on the wheel and center it.
2) Turn the wheel and with a soft lead pencil draw the banding lines, then mark the four vertical lines to make four sections of the same size.
3) Round the lid paint two wide lines with watered down blue that will be under the main design, leaving a space between them and the penciled banding lines.
4) The only part of the design that has been drawn and pounced to mark is the flower. Place the center of it on top of the vertical pencil lines and mark it with charcoal powder.
5) Mark the design nearest you, then turn the wheel and mark the opposite, then the ones at the side.
6) Next, paint the knob and the banding lines.
7) Paint the flowers following the charcoal powder lines, then add all the rest of the decoration by hand.
8) The lid painted and fired.


1) Place the lid on the wheel as explained.
2) On the lid’s circumference, mark the correct measurements on the lid’s circumference of all the 4 vertical lines, equally spaced, with a pencil. This is where the center of the small arch will fall.
3) Draw the outlines of the design and the horizontal and vertical lines onto tracing paper so as to make the placing easy. Remember that lids bend, so the design must be narrow at the top and the tracing paper must be darted.
4) Mark the design on with charcoal powder, making sure that the vertical lines drawn onto the tracing paper coincide with the ones on the lid.
5) To paint the band use three colors, starting at the top; blue, blue, yellow, ochre, blue, blue and the last one round the edge blue. Usually the yellow is painted and then the ochre put on top.
6) Dark blue – Use it for the four sections of the blue flowers, mark the inside edge with a blue line, then paint the vertical lines with a thick brush, starting at the top and center and making the strokes narrower as they go down.
7) Dark brown – paint the line of the arches between the blue flowers.
8) Ochre – Paint the spot at the top of the blue flowers and its center and a flower in the middle of the arch.
9) Red – Use it for the spots in the center of the flowers and the three petals between the blue flowers.
10) Brown-red – the spots in the center of the red and ochre.
11) Green – 3 green strokes on each side of the petal.

Once the lid has been decorated, it has to be moved to be put into the kiln. This is difficult to do without touching the colors, especially if the knob and edge are painted. Some lids are designed so that the flange is high enough to put your fingers under the lip, which enables you to pick it up. If picked up by the knob, the glaze might have to be repaired once it has been put into the kiln. If it has been decorated on top of a tile that is bisque, it can be moved using the tile like a tray and put into the kiln as a shelf, this is why it is called a tile-shelf. To do this, you must be quite sure that there was no glaze on the part of the flange touching the tile.

Once decorated, move and touch as the lids as little as possible and take great care when putting them into the kiln. It is easier to build up the first floors in the kiln with small objects, leaving enough space on the top shelf for large objects like jars so they can be put in directly without the need for props and other furniture. This is when you realize that kilns that open at the top are much more practical as the placing of all the pieces can be seen so they do not touch each other and every centimeter of space is saved.

ca: MAJÒLICA: Pinzells

es: MAYÓLICA: Pinceles

Brushes needed.
You will need about eight brushes for painting.
1) Two size10 brushes, each cut down to a different thickness to form a narrow, flat end. The drawing shows a brush before and after cutting. These brushes are for painting outlines, the thick part holds the paint so it runs down through the thin part and allows long unbroken strokes.
2) One large, soft brush for cleaning off any loose glaze and vegetable-ash from the glaze-base. Do not use this brush for anything else. Make sure it can be washed and is completely dry and clean before using it.
3) One large brush with soft hair for painting the edges and borders of the tiles.
4) Four brushes of different sizes.

The brush work is of great importance in the Majolica method, the movement of the brush strokes gives form to the object being painted and also shows the relation of one color over another in creating a third color.

Customizing your brush: Using small, very sharp scissors cut the paintbrush hair as shown in the drawing. You can see that half of the brush hair is cut away to form a step around the fine center, leaving the thickness you require. The center must have a flat end, never a point. Cutting the hair means that the paint is held in the thick part of the brush and then runs through to the thinner part, allowing you to make long, smooth strokes. This is very important when painting outlines. For a large picture use one cut with a wide end and paint the delicate details, like faces and hands, with a fine end. Use the narrow brush for small designs of one or two tiles and for plates and pots. Once you have learned the technique of using these brushes you can cut them down to the sizes you prefer.
Read more about: Brushes – Decorating / Brushes – Practicable

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (a)

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (a)

Colors: in ceramics the colors can be prepared and fired in many different ways and at many different temperatures. They all have to be mixed or used with glaze, which vitrifies and makes the clay or bisque non porous and decorates it. Remember that colors with the same name but made by different firms are always different. When buying a new color, get a sample and test it.

The photos show 20 different colors.
The following are labeled Name-Colors-Codes

Black = 1 black (Cr-Co-Ni-Mn-Fe) / Blue =1 blue cobalt (Si-Co-P) + 0,25 black (Cr-Co-Ni-Mn-Fe)
Blue dark = 1 blue cobalt (Si-Co-P) + 0,50-black (Cr-Co-Ni-Mn-Fe) / Blue Turquoise = 1 blue turquoise (Si-Zr-V)

Brown-red = 1 brown-red (Zn-Fe-Cr) / Brown dirty = 1 brown (Ti-Sb-Cr) + 0, 25 oxide Manganese (Mn2O3)
Brown dark = 1 brown dark (Cr-Fe-Mn) / Brown strong = 1 brown-red (Zn-Fe-Cr) + 1-brown dark (Cr-Fe-Mn)

Green copper = 1 green copper oxide (Cu O2) / Green dirty = 1 green copper oxide (Cu O2)
Green light = 1 yellow + 0, 25 / Green strong = 1 green strong (Co-Cr)

Red Crimson = 1 red crimson (Sn, Ca, Cr, Si) / Red Strong = 1 red strong (Cd, Se)
Yellow = 1 yellow strong (Zr-Si-Pr) + 0, 33( Pb-Sb-Fe) / Yellow lemon = 1 yellow lemon (Si-Zr-Pr)

Manganese = 1 oxide Manganese (Mn2O3) + 0, 15 red crimson (Sn, Ca, Cr, Si) / Ochre = 1 orange (Pb-Sb-Fe) + Red strong (Cd, Se)
Ochre skin = 1 ochre light (Ti-Sb-Cr) / Purple = 1 red crimson (Sn-Cr)
Read more about: Colors

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (b) Preparació

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (b) Preparación

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Preparing and mixing glaze colors: To make up your own glaze colors, mix one portion of color in powder form, which should be the combination of colors needed to produce the desired color, plus three times its volume of transparent glaze. Add water and pass the mixture through a fine sieve. The amounts you make depend on how much you work.

Remember; Keep stirring the glaze colors you are using, this keeps the water and color from separating and maintains a consistent density, which helps the color to run well. Water evaporates, so add more if necessary. If your colors do not run well while painting, add a little medium, which is a lubricant liquid. When the colors are left for a long while, they get dry and hard. Add water, leave for a short while so they can integrate, then mix, using a looped modeling tool. If you stir with a paint brush, be careful as you will not know the density of the color your brush is carrying, so clean the brush before starting to paint.

Note: Medium is the common name for the lubricant and the technical name is Polyethylene glycol

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (c) Com utilitzar-los

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (c) Como utilizarlos

Painting in the Majolica method over an unfired glaze can be done using any method and creating any style to apply the colors. What I explain here is the representative antique way of using colors. This is one of the most difficult and most important challenges—not only concerning the outlines but also the colors and the way you use them. The strength of the colors, light and shade, the relation of colors overlapping one another to form a third or fourth color, the mark you leave with your paintbrush, all are important.

There is a natural law in the perspective of colors. Light colors get darker and dark colors get lighter in the distance. So, objects in the far distance become a soft mixture of colors. The light in ceramics always comes from the left.

To add shading leave small sections of the white glaze-base on the left side of objects in your design, or, after painting them, scrape off bits of color. This adds light and accentuates the dimension. Basically, you use the white of the glaze as the lightest color, a light color as the basic color and then a darker color for the shading, which overlaps and forms another color.

To add colors, when you have finished the outlines, decide roughly where each color will be needed in your picture and paint in that color. Begin painting with the light colors—light blue, yellow, etc. Remember, colors can be used in different shades and combining, or overlapping colors is important. When fired, this will make a third or fourth color, which can count as a color or as shading. This effect can be achieved by putting a dark color over a light color or by covering a dark color with a light color. If you want to change the tone of a color or make it softer, rub it gently with your finger or with damp, clean paintbrush.

If you make mistakes while painting and want to correct them, use a paintbrush and clean water to soften the color. The mistake can be carefully scratched off either by using a thin, small, straight piece of metal, a small paintbrush with the hair cut right down or the wooden end of a paintbrush handle cut to make a point.

The last colors
The ground and the faces and arms are left till the end to paint and are painted with ochre-skin color. This color is very weak, which makes it difficult to correct. If by accident a color falls on to the white glaze-base, it is easy to repair but if it falls on to a light color, it is difficult. You have to scrape it off and then repaint it. The intensity of the color might be different and if you overlap what is there, it will leave a strong line.

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (d) Contorns

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (d) Contornos

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Introduction to using colors: Painting the outlines is drawing with your paintbrush. Use a cut down brush to paint the outlines and any small details. All strong colors can be used for outlines, the following five colors are the main ones. Remember, when I talk about colors, the preparation of them has been previously explained and stirring them helps to make them run well, this is very important for painting long, smooth strokes.

Manganese: is a dark brown that has been used throughout the centuries for painting outlines. When fired, it burns away so when using it for outlines, it must be well mixed and strong.
Brown: Instead of using manganese we now use 50% brown-red + 50% strong brown
Black: is a new, hard, industrial color and should be used for designs that need to have an impact, like names, advertisements, instructions, etc.
Blue: one of the oldest colors and one that has been used through the centuries for designs of a single color, but in different shades. For the outlines and extreme dark shading you need a strong color, so a little black is added.
Brown-red: a good color for outlines. To make it darker, it can be mixed with dark brown or black. Though not an antique color, it is good for fine lines.

The following are three ways that you can paint outlines.

1) Outlines before colors. First paint the outlines, which have been marked on with charcoal powder, with long smooth strokes, using the movement of brush strokes to accentuate the drawing and adding small details to personalize and accentuate it and then add the colors. Illustration a).

2) Painting colors before outlines, This is usually done when creating a colored texture. Imagine, for example, that you are painting a castle which has large spaces of brick wall. Mark on a design and paint only the outlines, no details like windows or doors, then dust off all the charcoal powder and paint in the light colors, light brown, light red-brown and green, overlapping them to form shades and colors, to give an idea of the changing colors that bricks have. Then mark on the missing parts of the design over the colors and paint in all the details; bricks, windows, doors, etc. When the outlines are finished, add more colors if necessary. Illustration b).

3) Strong outlines. This creates a similar effect as dry-cord, the outlines need to be very strong and black is usually used. The outlines are painted then the colors and shadings are added, the lines are repainted and made thicker and stronger. In some parts this is not done as can be seen in the green and yellow round the beak. The illustration c) shows the outlines painted and illustration d) the colors added and the outlines repainted.

Note: When I use the word light in relation to a color, I mean exactly the same color but with more water or a lighter stroke

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (e) Utilitzant

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (e) Utilizando

Overlapping colors: When I use the word shading it does not mean, as in many types of painting, a smooth integration of the same color at different intensities. This form of shading can be used in the Majolica method but traditionally, shading is created by the overlapping of completely different colors. The strength depends on the intensity of the colors when used. Overlapping two colors always produces a third color.

It is be done in two ways;-
a) By putting a strong color on top of a lighter color. They mix making the light color underneath darker, by makeing a third color and also act as shading.
b) By shading first with the dark color and then painting over it with the light one. When fired, a dark color under a light one can be seen, but the dark color appears softer and it has been intermixed with the movement of the brush

The following list gives you an idea of the colors most commonly used when overlapping. The overlapping of colors not only forms the shading, but also the colors of the object being portrayed, as seen in the grapes in the photos in the section, Majolica: Colors (g) Painting with colors

Colors commonly used for overlapping.
When I use the words soft or strong with colors, this applies to the same color, but the soft color has more water.

Blue with: Blue Light over shade with dark blue. The blue can then be covered with yellow, purple, and it becomes green
Brown dirty with: Manganese as the over shade. Brown strong as an over or under shade.
Brown-red with: Manganese as the over shade: Brown strong as the over shade.
Brown strong with: Manganese as the over shade. Brown strong as an over shade with many colors. Brown strong as an under shade with many colors.
Green dirty with: Green strong as an over shade:
Manganese: as an over shade:
Brown strong; as an over or under shade:
Green light with: Green strong as an over shade. Brown strong as an over or under shade.
Ochre with: Red-brown as the over shade or under shade. Manganese as the over shade. Brown strong as an under or over shade, use lightly.
Purple with: Manganese as the over shade. Blue dark as an over or under shade.
Blue light as an over or under shade
Red with: Manganese as the over shade. Brown strong as the over shade. Brown-red as the over shade or under shade.
Yellow with: Ochre as the over shade; it is not strong enough for under shade. Strong brown as an under and over shade, for theis use it softly as it is a strong color.
Green copper: paint the yellow first, leaving a little of the white base on the left and a larger white space on the right. Then with copper green, paint over the space on the right, covering some of the yellow. This will give you 4 tones, white, yellow, green-yellow and green. Blue shade first with a light blue, then accentuate the darker parts of it with stronger blue. Lastly, cover it all with yellow.

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (f) Decorar amb un color.

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (f) Pintados con un color

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Painting with one color. Blue is the most popular choice for painting different shades of just one color even though any color can be used. The following photos show two different colors—blue and brown.

When painting with one color, prepare four jars, three of the same color but of different intensities, made by adding more water, and one prepared with a little more dark brown or black to use for extreme, dark shades. The correct way of working is to paint the outline with the very dark shade of the color being used but in both examples shown, I have done the outlines with the brown we normally use. I find that the strength of this color accentuates the drawing and seems to reflect the main color, so much so, that clients do not realize it is not blue or red-brown.

When the outlines are finished, use the lightest shade of the color being used, in the same way you would use a light color and leave a little of the white glaze-base showing on the left. Over this, on the center and right, using a color of a medium intensity, paint the shadows and give form and shape. Shade with the third blue, then over this, on the extreme right, use a little of the strongest color especially prepared, as this will help accentuate the dimensions. When one stroke of color overlaps another, it will form yet another shade. In this way overlapping, strength of color, strength and movement of the brush strokes and the different shades of the paint make the different intensities of just one color completely variable.

Remember. Blue is a dangerous color because it is very strong. When applying the light blue, add a lot of water to it. You must also be careful not to accidentally put paint in a place that is not in the design. The color is so light, you might not see it until after it is fired and this will spoil your work.
Read more about: Blue / Majolica: 3 – Decorating

ca: MAJÒLICA: Colors (g) Com utilitzar-los

es: MAYÓLICA: Colores (g) Como se utilizan

The next photos show colors used in different ways.

These same colors are used in all the tiles that follow.
Outlines: Brown outlines.
Borders: Yellow.
Skin: Ochre or a skin color watered down.
Hair: Ochre shaded with brown outlines.
Shoes: Brown for outlines.
Blue cobalt: Light blue by itself or shaded with strong blue.

1) Bread Nº12 from a collection of 12 tiles
Jacket: Shaded with light blue, blue strong then covered with yellow.
Trousers: Shaded in brown strong then covered in dirty brown.
Stools: Shaded lightly with brown strong and then covered with ochre.
Dress: Yellow shaded with ochre.
Scarf: Purple.
Bread: Ochre shaded with brown-red

2) Farmer and donkey, Oficio Nº 32
Shirt: Yellow shaded with ochre.
Baskets: Shaded with brown strong watered down and then covered with ochre.
Horse: Blue watered down, shaded with watered-down brown strong.
Hat: Green copper.

3) Collecting olives Nº4 from a collection of twelve tiles.
Trees: green light shaded with green strong.
Tree trunks: green dirty shaded with brown strong watered down.
Left figure: Hats: purple shaded with brown strong.
Shawl and baskets: shaded with brown strong then covered with yellow.
Skirt: ochre shaded with brown-red.
Right figure: Hats: ochre shaded with brown-red.
Shirt: yellow shaded with ochre.
Bottom Figure: Hat: yellow shaded with ochre.
Blouse: brown strong lightly shaded then covered lightly with brown dirty.
Skirt: dirty green shaded then watered down with brown strong.

4) Grapes Wine Nº1, from a collection of twelve tiles.
Grape leaves. First yellow, making a wide border round the edge of the leaf, then copper green on the unpainted center and going out so as to overlap the yellow, leaving some of it round the edge.
Grapes: A small mark of blue on the right, of medium intensity, to accentuate the shade, on the left a stroke of yellow, leaving bits of white base, then on the right side covered with green light leaving some yellow and white on the left.
Hills: From left to right. Yellow with copper green: Yellow with ochre to shade: Copper green: Blue light with dark blue shading.
Branch: Ochre, shaded with brown-red.

5) Grapes Wine Nº1
Grapes: On the right blue light with a spot of blue dark, a bit of yellow on the left, then covered with purple, leaving white and yellow showing on the left, the rest is the same as in the previous tile.

6) Hay Cutting Bread Nº4
Hat: Ochre shaded with red-brown.
Jacket: Shaded with blue light and blue dark then covered with green copper
Trousers: Yellow shaded with ochre.
Hay: Very light yellow shaded very lightly with brown strong.



Manganese dioxide is a dark brown metal oxide color with a trace of purple. It has always been used in the Majolica method, mainly for outlining and shading. It is a nicer color than black, softer, less industrial and this helps to give an antique look, but unfortunately it also creates more problems. It is a temperamental color which blisters easily, particularly on the outlines and can burn away and spread, but the most common failure is that although it seems to have the right consistency when painted, when fired it comes out weak and this undermines the strength of the design. Read more about: Blistering – Forming in pottery.



Manises is the name of a town in the province of Valencia, Spain which has been the center of ceramics for several centuries, the “Majolica” method is also known by the name of this town.



Marking powders
a) Charcoal powder is a natural product and will burn away when fired; as it has a dark color, use it on light-colored work.
b) Talcum powder is a natural product and will burn away when fired; as it is white, use it on dark-colored work.

Marking designs on to soft clay.
Put the drawing over the clay, draw over the outlines indenting it into the clay or pounce through the drawing into the clay. You can also pounce and mark on with a marking bag using white industrial talcum powder, which will show up against the clay.

Marking designs on to bisque
a) Marking with a lead pencil. Take a design drawn on paper, turn it over and cover all the back with a soft lead pencil. Lay it on top of what is being decorated and draw over the main outlines; this presses the lead on the back and marks the design onto the object prepared for decorating.
b) Marking with carbon paper. Put it between the drawing and the piece to be decorated and draw over the outlines.
c) Marking with a pounced design. Using a marking bag with charcoal powder over a light color or white industrial talcum powder over a dark one

Marking designs on to a fired glaze surface
On-glaze: This is a glaze that has been fired, so rub over the part that has to be decorated with gum Arabic or thin varnish, leave to dry and then mark on the design, previously pounced, using charcoal powder or talcum powder. The gum Arabic also holds the colors as they are mixed with water and do not adhere to a glazed surface.

Marking designs on to a crude glaze surface.
In-glaze: Use charcoal powder to mark a pounced design on to an unfired glaze-base, this will burn away when fired.
Read more about: MarkingTiles – Small / Majolica: 5e – Preparing plates to paint

Marking tiles with codes.
Mark the back of the tiles of a large picture with numbers and letters, so as to know the order in which they have to be laid out. Start at the bottom left hand corner with A1, the numbers go lengthways and letters upwards.
Read more about: Numbering and coding – tile pictures

Marking the plate for the layout
Mark the top, outer edge of the plate with a pencil line, the mark should be directly in line with the center point between the two holes at the back. This lets you know where and which way up the design has to be marked on. Read more about: Glaze-base – Cleaning

Marking signature or trade mark.
On plates and jars the sign is on the foot.
On tiles, it is usually on the right hand bottom corner.
Read more about: Signature

ca: MARCAT - Amb borsa de Carbó

es: MARCADO – Con bolsa de Carbón

Marking bag, A marking bag has to be made it is to hold a fine powder, either black charcoal to mark on to a light color or white industrial talcum powder for a dark color. To make a bag, cut out a small, square piece of material, lay it out and put the finely ground powder in the center, pull the corners up and join them with a rubber band. You should use a material that is strong enough not to break too quickly and has a weave that lets the powder pass through so the lines come out clean and strong enough to see.

Working method:
The design has been drawn, copied on to transparent paper and the outlines have been pounced. Lay it over what is going to be decorated, putting the rough side upwards, then rub it with the bag. The powder comes out, goes through the pounced holes and marks the design onto the piece to be decorated. Carefully, with a soft brush, clean or blow off any powder that is surplus. If marking onto biscuit or a dark surface, you should use white industrial talcum powder in the same way as white shows up better.

ca: MARCANT RAJOLES (a) Dissenys petits

es: MARCANDO AZULEJOS (a) Diseños pequeños

Marking on small designs between one and four tiles. Many designs are names of houses so keep your border designs separate from the written part so they can be reused many times. The following photos show one tile, 15×20cm. Make the designs, just the outlines, and print them on to transparent paper and pounce them.

The order of work
1) The border a) and the center part b) to be marked on.
2) Over a tile with the glaze base prepared, lay the pounced drawing. Making sure that it is placed correctly and that the smooth side is against the tile.
3) With one hand hold it in place and with the other tap the marking bag over the over the pounced lines. c)
4) Rub the surface with it, covering all the holes so the ash goes through.
5) Lift one corner of the tracing paper d) to see if it is well marked. Until the marking is finished one hand must always be holding the tracing paper in place.
6) Gradually remove the paper, checking to see that the lines have come out clearly. If not, rub that part again.
7) The tile with the border marked on.e)
8) In the same way place and mark on the center design making sure not to damage the border. f-g)
9) The whole design marked on in preparation for painting.h)

NOTE: When marking a design onto an opaque glaze-base, either with a marking bag or screen printing, it will come out much clearer and cleaner if the base is slightly damp. When too dry the glaze becomes powder and blocks the holes in the transparent paper and sticks to the screens when printing.
If too dry, with a simple hand spray with water, spray the prepared pieces, wait a few seconds, the water will spread over the surface, then mark on the design.

ca: MARCAT DE RAJOLES (b) Dissenys grands

es: MARCADO DE AZULEJOS (b) Diseños grandes

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Marking a large design:
Place the tiles that have been prepared with a glaze-base, on a flat surface to form the size and shape of the design or the part that is going to be marked. If it is a very large design it should be separated into sections, the size of each section being dependent upon the size of the transparent paper you want it printed on. Cutting down the design makes the tiles easier to mark and the design easier to keep after being used.

Lay the tracing paper on top of the tiles and put two heavy objects in two different corners to hold the tracing paper in place. Have two heavy objects, so when marking you can move one and the other keeps the paper placed correctly. Always start by marking the tiles at the left bottom corner so they are in the right order, bottom ones first to put on the stand where they are going to be painted. When you lift them up one by one to move them, mark the code on the back of each one.

ca: MÀSCARES - Respiratòries

es: MÁSCARAS - Respirator

A potter’s mask is a shield worn on the face, to cover the mouth and nose, to protect, stop and control inhalation of dangerous products. There are many different types designed for hard industrial work and for ordinary everyday pottery for protection against dust, particles, etc. They are usually disposable and should always be used when spraying, cleaning and preparing ceramic products.

ca: MAT

es: MATE

Matte is a glaze that does not shine. There are different grades of shine, matte and semi-matte, etc.



Matting agents are materials that are added to glazes to produce a matte surface



Mature is when a person or product is fully developed. It is used when referring to the degree to which a clay or glaze has vitrified. A ‘mature’ stoneware or porcelain clay is normally one that is dense and strong, a ‘mature’ glaze flows well and restores imperfections to provide a good covering.



Maturing is when clays and different products are kept in plastic or a damp atmosphere, which is said to help the clay mature. In the past, when one firm did everything from digging up the clay to selling the finished work, ceramic firms kept the clay in local caves for up to two years to mature.



Maturing range: when the clay body or color that is being fired reaches its correct strength and compactness, this is known as the maturing point. If under-fired, it is weak and porous and when tapping it to check that it is not broken, the sound is flat. If over-fired, it can be very brittle and when being fired it can break down completely into a molten state in the kiln.



Measurement is the exact size and applies to heat, liquids, solid objects, etc.



Measuring is the process of ascertaining the extent, dimensions, or quantity of something; heat, liquids, solid objects, etc.



Measuring cups are used to measure quantities of liquids and powders.



Measuring jugs are industrially made in plastic or glass and can be used for measuring different substances, liquids, sugar etc. The height of the weight or the quantity of liquid of a product is marked on to the outside. In other words, if ½ a kilo of sugar fills up 8 cm in the jug, this height is marked onto the jug. It can then be used for measuring quickly and roughly.



Measuring spoons are used to measure small quantities when mixing colors and other ceramic ingredients. A Beam Balance is much more exact.



Medium is a liquid added to colors to make them more fluid for decorating pottery. It helps the colors to run well and makes their application easier. It is a vegetable product and burns away when fired. The technical word for this is Polyethylene glycol.



Melt is to force the transition of a solid substance into a liquid by heat. This can happen with clay when over-fired.



Melting point is the temperature at which heat turns a solid product into a liquid.



Mesh applies to the spaces left between the crossings of the fibers in a woven fabric. It is measured by threads per centimeter, the more it has, the finer the mesh. In pottery, sieves are used to strain powders and liquids and can be bought with different sized mesh, 40 being the largest and 200 very fine.
Read more about: Cup lawn / Lawn / Sieves



Microns are particle sizes in clays, glazes or slips that form in a uniform way.

ca: MOLÍ


Mill: Machine to grind and mix different products. They work with electricity and there is a large variety, all of which have special names. Under each heading there is more information
Ball Mill: for grinding glazes and materials for colors. Read more about: Ball Mill
Plug mill: is a machine to mix and extrude clays, it is a mechanical way of kneading and wedging. Read more about: Plug mill / Extruder
Clay blunger: is a machine for mixing clay with water and can be electric or hand controlled. It is known under different names slip mixer, clay mixer, clay re-user and vibrating sieve. In this dictionary it is explained in the section slip preparing. Read more about: Slip preparing.

ca: MOCA

es: MOCA

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Mocha decoration is a technique where a liquid that contains tobacco juice mixed with oxides is applied onto a surface prepared with a coat of wet freshly applied slip. It creates organic patterns, which stay after being fired. Touch the base with a brush full of the mixture and it will spread rapidly outwards in a circular design that grows as more mocha tea is applied to the same place. It creates a fern type pattern as a decoration.

A formula decoration mocha:
10 grs of tabacco (cigars)
100 ml of distilled water
Boil for 15 minutes
Leave it cool, squeeze the tabacco, sieve it and add oxides

Photos and work by Nuria Pié

ca: FUSTES - Per modelar

es: MADERAS - Para modelar

Modeling boards come in different sizes and shapes and are made of wood which has been smoothly finished off. They have various functions; to hold the clay while working with it, when used as a tray, to move work from one place to another and to leave pieces to dry off. They allow you to move work without touching it.

ca: MODELAR - Eines

es: MODELADO - Herramientas

Modeling tools are designed to work with clay and there are many different types and styles. They can be made of bamboo, boxwood, wood and nylon and are all made in one piece with two heads.

Read more about: Bamboo tools / Boxwood tools / Modeling Tools – Nylon / Forming tools – Steel / Modeling tools – Wood / Modeling tools – Wire

ca: MODELATGE – Eines de niló

es: MODELADO - Herramientas de nailon

Tools made of nylon, are very sturdy and the part to hold has a texture to stop the hand slipping. The clay does not stick to them and they are the same shape as modeling tools made of other materials.

ca: MODELAT - Eines de filferro d’acer

es: MODELADO - Herramientas de alambre de acero

Modeling tools of wire have steel heads and wooden handles. Used for sculpture, scraping, carving, giving shape to and refining surfaces of all types of work in clay.

ca: MODELAT - Eines de fusta

es: MODELADO - Herramientas de madera

Modeling tools made in wood are used for forming with clay, there are many sizes with different forms at each end.


es: MOLDE:

A mold a shaped cavity used to make a copy of an object. It can consist of one or many sections and is used to reproduce work in clay or clay slip. In pottery, molds are used to reproduce many products, plates, jars, statues, etc. A mold is filled with slip or clay and left to dry. When dry, they are separated and you have a copy of the original object, which is known as a cast. Molds are important in pottery as they can produce special pieces that could not be made by hand, quicker and more accurately.

1) In clay,make the shape you want to make the mold.
2) Put it on a wooden bat and build up a wall around it with wooden boards, slabs of clay, sheets of rubber or plastic.
3) Leave a space of 3cm between the wall and the clay object, this space the width of the wall of the mold once cast.
4) This size depends on the dimensions of what is being made; the larger it is the stronger the walls must be.
5) Where the sections of the walls join each other or the bat, they must be sealed firmly together with coils of clay on the outside and inside. The inside joints are smoothed off so the mold will have an even surface
6) Prepare the plaster: In a bucket put the amount of water needed for the mold you are going to make. Tip the plaster slowly into it and leave it for a few minutes so they can integrate.
7) Using your hand wearing a plastic glove or with a large strong wooden spoon, stir it slowly so it becomes smooth, without any lumps. While doing this you will notice that the viscosity of the liquid is thickening.
8) When it is like cream, pour it slowly into the mold, over the object, filling every corner, until the layer on top becomes thick enough to form a strong floor.
9) When the plaster has hardened, take off the walls, turn it upside down and remove the bat and then the clay. Level off any rough parts then smooth and clean it with a damp sponge.

Note: The following sections on molds cover the different ways of using them to form different objects. Read more about: Casting – A fish (2) / Casting – Dragons

ca: MOTLLE: 1 de premsa

es: MOLDE: 1 Moldes de prensa

PRESS MOLD: is a concave space in the form of a plate and the clay is pressed into it.
HUMP MOLD: is a shape formed outwards and the clay is laid over it. They are usually made with a handle, to make separating it from the clay easier.
Remember: Remove it as soon as possible from the mold as the clay will shrink and it will break.

General rules on using the above molds:
a) Knead the clay well so it has a smooth, even consistency and has no air bubbles
b) On a cloth roll out the clay to the height, width and length needed to cover the mold completely.
c) Put the mold as near as possible to the clay.
d) Pick up the clay with the cloth, holding it flat between both hands and lay it over or into the mold, remove the cloth. The cloth helps to stop the clay deforming while being moved. Do not hold the clay between your fingers as it will stretch under its own weight and become narrower in parts and your fingers will also leave indents.
e) Smooth and press it with a rubber kidney so it takes the shape of the mold.
f) Cut off the edges using a very tautly held cutting wire, then smooth them out and leave it to dry.
g) Separate the clay from the mold when it is leather dry. Turn it the right way up, tidy it and leave to dry out completely, it can now be decorated or fired.

ca: MOTLLE: 2 Puntes

es: MOLDE: 2 Puntas

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In the photo there are two spurs, the big one was industrially made and the small one molded from it. They are in front of a pen drive to show how small they are.

Spurs are pieces of kiln furniture used for supporting objects with a flat base. If the glaze on the object runs, the spur makes a space between the object and the floor and makes it easier to separate them.

The process of making a spur is as follows. A small wooden rod a) and an industrially made spur are glued together to give it a handle b). The clay is prepared in a flat circle about 15cm wide and 3cm high, the spur is indented into it many times, the clay is left to dry and then fired.
In photo h) it is next to a tape measure so you can see the size.
In photo i) there is a bowl full of spurs and some have a circle indented into the base. These are the ones which are industrially made.

Fill up the spur indents with clay and level them out. To remove them hold a small bit of clay and touch them with it so it sticks and they can be pulled out. Or they can be left to dry and lifted out when the clay shrinks. Stand them on a bisque tile to dry, when dry use the tile as a tray and move them into the kiln to be fired.

Spurs are used to be put between the piece being fired and the floor of the kiln as a safety precaution in case the glaze runs off the sides, it makes separating them easier.

If they are glued to the surface of the piece after being fired, hold the work with your left hand and twist the spur sharply with your right to separate them. It always leaves a small mark in the glaze.

If the point of the spur is damaged or has any glaze on it, file it down before using it again.

When the underneath part of the piece is flat and clean of glaze, it can be put directly onto a shelf in the kiln. If, however, there is an area that has glaze on it and has to be signed, leave enough glaze-base for the signature and clean off each corner so the spurs can support it.

If using transfers do it the same way but in both firings, first the glaze and then a transfer of your sign or your signature. Read more about: Transfer

ca: MOTLLE: 3 Làmines

es: MOLDE: 3 Láminas

Mold cottle is made out of pliable plastic and can be cut to any size, height and length. It is used to form a circular wall of the size required, round the outside of what is going to be cast.

ca: MOTLLE: 4 Fet amb barres de fusta

es: MOLDE: 4 Hecho con barras de madera

MOLDS – Building them up with bars of wood and clay
If you need a simple mold that will only be used a few times, then it is worth doing it yourself, but if it is going to be used a lot and you need 4 or 5 units of the same mold, or it consists of two or three pieces, then it is worthwhile having it made professionally.

The general rules for molds:
Place whatever you want to make a mold of onto a large, movable wooden board. Calculate where you want to put the outer walls, which can be built up either in wood or clay. The size and strength of the walls of the mold are in relation to the length, width and height of the object to be copied. The bigger the piece, the bigger and stronger the walls should be. When designing the object you want to make a mold of in clay, bear in mind that the clay will shrink by about 5% and ensure that the pieces will fit into your kiln.

Building with wood:
Needed: A wooden board to make the mold on, small planks of wood, clay, a large bucket, plaster of Paris and bleach.
Method: Build up the outer walls using the planks of wood. Put a thin layer of clay between all the parts that have to be joined and force them together. Fill up all joints, inside and outside, with clay, level them out and round off the corners. Before making the mold, paint the inside with bleach mixed with clay. This will make the separation of the plaster easier.
Building up with clay:
Needed: Plank of wood to make your mold on, battens, rolling pin, clay, large bucket and plaster of Paris.
Method: Roll out a slab of clay to the desired thickness, cut it into strips to the width needed for the height of the walls. Stand it up and put it round what you are going to make a mold of, leaving enough space, height and widthwise to form the mold. Join the ends of the wall when they meet. Put a coil of clay round the inside and outside where the different parts join, especially walls, floor and corners and push it in and round it off. This will strengthen and hold the walls in place and stop plaster from escaping underneath.

Plaster of Paris: Put water into a bucket and add the plaster, stirring all the time to get rid of lumps. In about 3 minutes it will start to thicken. When it gets to the right thickness and is like a thick heavy cream, pour it over the prepared clay. Let it spread round and up to the height of the walls, pouring slowly so it enters into all the small spaces and also to avoid putting too much pressure on the walls. When full, level out the top and leave it to dry.

To separate mold and clay: Take the walls off and turn it the right way up. Pull out the clay and when separated, wash and clean each part of the mold. Scrape off any bits of plaster that have run under the clay and formed rough edges. Name and number each piece clearly with paint.

ca: MOTLLE: 4a De dues peces o més

es: MOLDE: 4a De dos piezas o más

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Molds of two pieces or more:
The making of a two-piece mold of a cylinder is described here, and the same procedure can be followed if more sections are needed. They can be used for jars, figures etc. The most difficult part is calculating the measurements, as clay shrinks when it dries and when fired. If the measurements have to be exact, like a tile 15 × 15cm, then one or two should be made, shrinkage can be calculated.

Make a cylinder in clay, mark a line, lengthwise, all the way round the center and then put it on top of the board of wood where the mold is going to be made and leave it to dry. Build up a clay wall right round the cylinder to the height of the line and make a rectangle to the width needed for the mold. The damp clay will not adhere to the dry clay of the cylinder

a) Cylinder of clay
b) Wooden wall round clay wall
c) Clay wall round the cylinder
d) Wooden floor board

Building with wood: Round the clay build up walls with wood to the height required to cover the cylinder at the top with plaster and to make a thick, strong floor. Clay must be put between the joints of the pieces of wood to hold them together and stop the plaster running. Brush the inside with bleach plus clay.
Prepare the plaster and fill the mold to the top; level it out and leave to dry.
Take off the walls and floor, turn it round and put it back on to the wood so it is standing on the plaster. Take off the clay, which is now at the top, leaving the dry clay of the cylinder uncovered. Indent a small hole in the four corners of the plaster.

a) Wooden board
b) Solid plaster turned round
c) Clay to be taken off
d) Clay cylinder
e) Holes made in the plaster

Now repeat the previous procedure, building up the four walls with wood against the first half that is now solid to the height needed for the floor on top of the cylinder, fill this space with prepared plaster and leave to dry.

Drawing below: mold finished.
Take off the wood and separate the two halves of the cylinder and take out the clay; separate and clean the plaster and you have your mold in two pieces. The holes at the corners have made four small protruding legs on the second part, so when the two halves are put together they will fit correctly and be held in place.

ca: MOTLLE: 5 Caselles dentades fetes a mà

es: MOLDE: 5 Casillas dentadas hechas a mano

These cranks are made to be used in pairs of any required size. They must be a size easy to hold, as both sides are separat and have to be moved together. These are made to hold from 2 to 6 tiles. They are useful for filling up small spaces in the kiln and to support tiles of odd measurements. If made in stoneware and fired at a high temperature they will be stronger and last longer than if made in earthenware. With an electric tile cutter, cranks can be cut down and filed.

These illustrations show cranks of different sizes being used.

The wood should be sandpapered and varnished to protect it from the dampness of the clay. The clay has to be taken out before it is dry, as otherwise it will shrink in every direction and break. The mold was designed to solve this problem so it is completely dismountable, each part can be taken out separately. Work out the measurements you need, taking into account the sizes of the tiles you use in relation to the shrinking of the clay when drying and firing.

1) 5 separate pieces of wood for the mold. a) 2 side walls, b) 2 end walls c) the floor.
2) A finished crank in relation to the mold.
3) The wood added to make separate cranks d)

ca: MOTLLE: 6 Per treballar en relleu

es: MOLDE: 6 Para trabajar en relieve

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Molds for working in relief are made with a flat back that can be attached to walls and thus be used for architectural decorating. It can be in one or more pieces and on the same or different levels.

Make the design as simple as possible. The photos are of numbers made for the outside walls of a housing estate. The back consists of 6 pieces that will be attached to the wall, and then the numbers are glued on to it. It is designed so that the back can be increased and decreased in size to hold any amount of numbers. In all there are 16 molds, 6 for the back and one for each number, 0 to 9.

There are nine illustrations and (f) to (i) are photos of work by Nuria Pié

To use the mold, make the clay into an oval piece roughly the length and width of what is being made. Put it into the mold and push down and into the corners, gradually filling it all up. Keep pressing the clay down so as not to leave air holes. When full, smooth and press it down using a rolling pin, then scrape away any surplus clay by resting a thin metal bar from wall to wall and pulling it across.

To take it out, first take a small ball of clay and go round the edges where the plaster and clay join, touching the joints and pulling upwards. This helps to loosen the clay from the plaster. Then lay a piece of wood over the mold, turn it and tap it until it comes out. Read more about: Numbers

ca: MOTLLE: 7 Bastidor

es: MOLDE: 7 Bastidor

Mold frames are four pieces of wood of the same size, each with a flat metal hook at one end, to attach one wall to another and form a square or rectangle. They are used for building up molds and forming clay into squares.

ca: MOTLLE: 8 De tall

es: MOLDE: 8 De corte

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Working process
1) Roll out the clay to the heights required.
2) These are two die walls for cutting out shapes in clay, they are 15cm wide and 8cm high and designed to fit together and form patterns.
3) Put them on top of the clay; push them down and cut out the shapes.
4) Lay them on top of newspaper, cover them newspaper and a large flat piece of wood, to stop them warping while drying.
5) When they are leather hard they can be lifted up and with a damp piece of foam rubber, all the rough parts can be smoothed down.
6) Lay them out again and leave them until they are dry enough to fire.

7) They have ben bisque fired and can be decorated, cover them with a white opaque glaze-base, pouring it over them in the same way as for preparing tiles.
8) Clean the side and backs.
9) Decorate them with designs and colors and colors you want, remembering they can be put together and laid out in different ways.

Designed and made by Natalia Galera
Read more about: Biscuit Cutter

ca: MOTLLE: 9 Per a rajoles

es: MOLDE: 9 Para azulejos

a) MOLDS: For tiles.
b) Walls: 4 bars of wood form the walls, of the height and length required for the tile plus the parts for joining and overlapping. These walls must have an inlet at each end, so they can be joined firmly together and form the exact measurements required for the tile, taking shrinkage into account.
c) Floors: are two square pieces of wood; one is to put the tile on while being made and the other to put on top to turn it over. These means that you can check that it is correctly filled up and the clay can dry at the same speed on both sides, avoiding warping.

Clay and rolling pin.

1) Lay the clay into the frame, pushing it into every corner and flatten it using a rolling pin.
2) With a long, straight tool like a ruler, scrape off the surplus clay. When the ruler touches the opposite sides of the mold, the clay will be straight
3) Lay the second wooden floor on top.
4) Turn it over, take off the bottom floor, check there is no clay missing on this side and level it off in the same way.
5) It can be left to dry with or without the walls but should be turned over several times, in the same way. This is because when flat clay dries and shrinks the outer edges are inclined to bend upwards and turning the clay helps to keep them level.

ca: MODELAT - El peix - Etapa (1) en ceràmica.

es: MODELADO - El pez - Etapa (1) en cerámica.

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The Fish was made by Jordi Salvador as the award for the winner of the Premi Llengua Nacional in Catalonia. It is based on a mosaic design by Gaudí that is part of a bench in the house Torre Bellesguard – Casa Figueras, which is shown in photo a).

The basic method for making a one piece shape in clay to cast is simple, but as the design of this one has a lot of small, delicate details it needs time and great care. The clay is shaped as needed and the photocopy of the design is laid on top and with a pencil the outlines are indented. Then with a very fine tool they are dug out and a mosaic texture is given to the areas within the outlines by indenting them with small squares. The movement of the tool is very important as it accentuates the form of the design; this can be seen in the waves and the whiteness of the background. You must keep brushing off the small bits of clay which have been scraped out and smooth off the edges with a brush and clean water.

He has been using this method to form miniature reproductions of the large mosaic works of Gaudi. In the photo e), you can see his hand working on the piece, showing how small it is and how precise it has to be.

Photos taken in the workshop of Sot: www.ceramicasot.com

ca: MOTLLE - Premsa - Etapa (1)

es: MOLDE - Prensa - Etapa (1)

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Press mold. The mold is in two parts, the top and the bottom and when pressed together they fit exactly. The photos show how to reproduce two different designs, six of the large one and two of the small one.

The clay is passed through the extruder and then sliced into pieces. The mold has eight sections but only six are used, the clay is put on top of the ones to be used. The machine is turned on, the top part moves down and squashes the clay into the spaces and joins the two parts to form a mold in one piece.

The top part is moved up and takes the clay with it. A board is held underneath, against the clay and when it is pulled down the clay sticks to it. The board acts as a tray for the molds which are moved onto a large trolley and left to dry.

Note: SOT CERAMIC’S STUDIO has three potters working together but each with their own specialty. These tiles are small copies of large ones used for pavements in Barcelona. The dictionary has three sections on Molding – Press Molding that go through the process of making them. They are made by two potters, Joaquim Toribio made the molds, the first two sections and the last on decorated is by Jordi Salvador

Photos taken in the workshop of Sot and is the work of Joaquim Toribio: www.ceramicasot.com

ca: MOTLLE - Premsa - Etapa (2)

es: MOLDE - Prensa - Etapa (2)

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The first photo shows the clay molded and being left to dry on top of the planks of wood that were used to hold and pull the tiles out of the mold; each one of the planks carries four tiles and two curved knobs, the tiles are small, hexagonal in shape, with a design in relief.

When the clay is leather hard, dry enough to move without being deformed, the parts of unwanted clay are taken off, the pieces are left to dry further and then cleaned. No clay is thrown away, it is collected in a bucket and when needed, water is added and it develops a pliable texture. It is then put into the container and mixed with the new clay and water and becomes slip.

Each molded piece has to be cleaned and smoothed off. The tool used is a small, thin piece of metal that is held against a knob as it is turned on the wheel. Right round the sides of the tile there is a small line of protruding clay that has been, scraped off by hand with the same tool.
Pieces of dry clay can be piled up one on top of the other for storing and in the kiln for firing.

Photos taken in the workshop of Sot and is the work of Joaquim Toribio: www.ceramicasot.com

ca: MOTLLE - Premsa - Etapa (3)

es: MOLDE - Prensa - Etapa (3)

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The tiles have been bisque fired and are piled up ready to paint.

With a bucket of a slip prepared with the required color, stir it making sure it is well mixed and has the correct consistence needed for you work. With pincers pick up the tiles one by one and dip them into the slip, let any surplus slip run off and place it on top of a grid which holds six of them. When the glaze is dry you can hold the tiles by the edges, and clean off the glaze that is on the footing and any part that might touch the kiln.

In this piece it is only the outer board that has to be cleaned as the center is lower; this is where you can leave your signature or stamp. If you prepare many pieces, a foot cleaner is a very good purchase. It can be used for tiles, plates and pots. Hold the part that has to be cleaned on top of the band of foam rubber, it is electrically controlled, moves slowly, is damp and cleans off the entire unwanted glaze. Once cleaned put the pieces directly into the cranks, which have been designed size wise to fit in, this is something you must always take into account when designing a piece with a special size.

The last photos show the kiln being opened and the work fired allowing you to see the beautiful green that has been created.

Photos taken in the workshop of Sot and is the work of Jordi Salvador: www.ceramicasot.com



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Mortar is a bowl which is use with a pestle for grinding and breaking down materials. They are now made out of china but the best are the old ones that have a pestle with a wooden handle and a pestle head and bowl made out of stone.



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Mosaics are small, different colored flat stones and tiles that are laid together to form a design. At the time of the Greek and Roman Empire, mosaics were used to decorate floors and wall and to tell stories and historical episodes. Throughout the centuries, Arab countries have used them for architecture, for decorating interiors and exteriors of buildings and in designs forming precise, geometrical decoration for floors, walls and ceilings. Today, Morocco is one of the principal countries for this art. In the 19th century, the Modernistic Catalan architect Gaudi used mosaics to decorate his work, ceilings, columns, statues, etc., using irregular shapes and sizes of every color and pieces of different materials, such as china, glass, bricks or stones. The following photos show different mosaic styles.

Photos a) & b) lent by Toni Cumella , c) & d) Nuria Pié and e) Susan Muss

ca: MOSAICS - Com treballar

es: MOSAICOS - Cómo trabajar

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Artist; Cleo Mussi. All her work is made out of pieces of unwanted or broken pottery, plates, jugs, tiles, statues, etc.; it is very personal and individual; she creates small designs for private houses and also large installations for public buildings.

Steps for mosaic making
Lay out all your materials. Using the tile nippers begin to cut out regular and repeating shapes using the patterns that you find within the ceramic designs. Experiment with shapes, scale color and pattern. Lay your design out onto the tile and when the design is complete then cover another tile with a thin layer of 2-3 mm of ready-mixed tile adhesive. Transfer your design from one to another, pressing each one sharply into the adhesive. Allow your tile to dry for 24 hours in a warm place.

Wearing rubber gloves, put a cup of tile grout into a plastic container and add a small quantity of water gradually mixing to make a thick paste, like cake mixture. Push the grout mixture into the gaps of the ceramic, making sure it reaches the edges of the pieces. Wait a few minutes, and using an old nail brush, clean off the excess grout which should come off as a wet powder. Using an old towel, polish off the remaining grout and your mosaic tile will be finished.

Note: Grout is a construction material made to reinforce, fill up voids and seal joints in buildings. It is a mixture of water, cement and sand. It is applied as a thick emulsion and hardens quickly and there are many different types. It is used to fill the spaces between tiles or mosaics.

The photos (a) to (k) go through the method of working and the last six are finished designs.



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Mottled or spotted referred to colors which were somehow damaged and stained, it was a defect. But since the mid-nineteenth century, ceramics characterized by a mottled brown glaze started to be produced. Later it was improved by the technique of applying a glaze and sprinkling with spots of oxides to give a mottled effect in blue, brown, black, etc. Today commercial glazes are sold reproduce this effect.

Photos by Jordi Marcet and Rosa Vila-Abadal