Mary's Maiolica Arts

Color Recreations


This information is mainly for someone interested in making food-safe "period" maiolica to use at Renaissance re-enactment events as "feast gear". This information is provided as a supplement to the Materials and Supplies list.

Product Information

The Hobby Colorobbia Company of Montelupo Italy exports to the United States food safe glazes for creating maiolica ceramics.  These colors closely approximate the colors used during the Renaissance.  Materials used during the Renaissance frequently contained lead and other toxins. The products sold in the United States are sold in a liquid form as Bisque Stroke Underglazes.  There are fewer colors available in the United States then are sold to the commercial ceramic industry in Italy.  The commercial Italian ceramic industry also uses a different product line from Colorobbia that is sold as powdered pigments.

Early Period -- 12th to 14th century

There were only a couple of colors available for early maiolica.  Color substitution was done on heraldry during this time period.

Copper Green
HC 0440

HC 0448

Late Period -- Appropriate for 1450-1600 AD

Outlining is frequently done with dark blue during this period.  Manganese is also used for outlining.  The Manganese available in the United States is a lighter color than the Manganese in Italy.  It is traditionally more of a brown-black color.  The outlines in images of historic maiolica may look black but they are often actually Manganese.  Royal Blue is a richer deeper blue than Celestial Blue.  Celestial Blue is easier to shade with.  There are two different yellows available from Colorobbia, but they are very similar and almost interchangeable. Cherry Red was not an available color during the Renaissance.  The red in use was more of an orangey red.  The deeper red seen on historic maiolica is usually a metallic luster requiring a special third firing.

Copper Green
HC 0440
HC 0448
Celestial Blue
HC 0435
Bright Yellow
HC 0428
HC 0414
Tangerine Red
HC 0451
Light Brown
HC 0425
Royal Blue
HC 0434
Dark Brown
HC 0452

Other Useful Colors

Black is sometimes required for modern heraldry since the available Manganese is more of a brown than a black.  A color similar to the Intensive Blue is sometimes used in historic pieces from Montelupo.  Grape is appropriate for modern heraldry requiring purple.  Light Red can be used as a second coat on top of yellow to create a more traditional red color.  This is type of layering of colors can be seen in pieces made by the modern Italian maiolica industry.

HC 0437
Intensive Blue
HC 0436
HC 0455
Light Red
HC 0419

Substitute Greens

The Copper Green underglaze can be a challenge to use because it is black before it is fired.  There are a couple of other greens that can be substituted for the Copper Green.

Bottle Green
HC 0401

Grass Green
HC 0432

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