More Majolica Decorating Color chat

David Gamble, lowfire clay artist, Skutt kiln expert, did an article a while back. I don’t remember where – someone out there remember? Tell us! – about the various products for decorating on majolica glaze. I asked David to recap his experiences for us. He said:

When I did all my tests I found GDC’s seemed the best – Spectrum was 2nd in my use & assessment and they had lots of color – I heard Color Robbia had some but folks I know said they did not like them & I never tested them – Mayco says that their Stroke & Coats work & yes they melt on top of whites – but I found that they were not as stiff & moved/bleed at the edges – so exact lines were out of the question with them.

 All your tests with velvets on white glazes are still good with me — though not sure about food surfaces – they are so soft they would have to melt completely into the surface to be dinnerware safe. Of course you already know all of this.

Before there were GDCs, I tested the AMACO Velvet Underglazes on top of majolica. The results of this are posted on my website Handouts page. Some melted very well and were usable for majolica, some were very refractory and pig-skinned (so matt they left a crinkled, stony surface on top of majolica.)

David was in touch with AMACO, and checked on the availability of GDC colors at this point. He reported:
They are out of pink in 2oz but have pints of pink left — red & turquoise are low in pints around 10 each .  Seems to be lots of 2 oz jars left in all except pink colors.

So folks should get them know while they still have a great selection at AMACO’s retail store – Brickyard Pottery- Cheri is the manager you can call 317 244 5230  or Amaco’s 800 – 374 1600  and ask for Cheri at BYP .

In my studio world, pink is safe, and so is brown. I probably have enough brown for the rest of my studio lifetime. I’d probably run out of the bright yellow (mixed with turquoise 3-4:1 it’s a great Chartreuse), Light Red, Pearl Grey, and Avocado first.  At one point, I did make it a project to use brown, just to see if I could. I do like certain browns – nice ochre-tan-saddle colors, and reddish, rusty browns. Below, a bowl from 2003 during the self-imposed brown challenge. Summer flowers on the front, winter leaves on the back. Perhaps the theme presaged my later immersion in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series and the house of Stark motto: winter is coming.

Arbuckle majolica bowl, 2003, Now and Then

By arbuck

Potter, Professor Emerita, Ceramics at University of FL, Gainesville.


  1. Dear Ms. Arbuckle,
    I have loved your work and your ethic for many years. Just because it might be useful to you, I have used an ultrafine type of industrial bentonite, which is milled to an extremely fine particle size. It is called “Suspengel 200,” manufactured by CIMBAR Performance Minerals, Cartersville, Georgia 30120, 1-800-852-6868. Simply by calling them, they will send you a free sample of about one quart size. You might like the purity–there are NO tiny black rocks in it, the way there always are with the 50 pound bags from the ceramics suppliers.
    Anyway, this is just a thought, and a feeble attempt to say thanks for your wonderful ideas and gorgeous original work.
    Gil Mosko

  2. Sympathies on fighting the Lyme disease. It’s a terrible insidious disease. You are probably aware of all this, but have you been tested for Erlichiosis and Babiosis? Both are tick born diseases. I’ve been fighting recurrences of Lyme for the last six months, with a bunch of secondary infections. (Last two test results are back to established base lines)

    I too, was disappointed to see Amaco discontinuing the GDC’s. The pearl gray is one of my favorites. I use a lot of Mason stains with 50/5o frit 3124. As you say it smears. I was thinking of mixing with a little wax, but then I lose their blending ability. I sometimes use a drip of glycerin, thanks to you. I also make ‘paste’…….50/50 gerstley borate and frit 3124. I add stain by eye….about 2 stain to one paste. I like it for somethings, but I think the GB tends to give colors, particularly yellows, and pastels and muddy look.

    Thanks for all your thoughts on this…….we’ll see, grasshopper, we’ll see.

    1. Thanks for the note and Lyme sympathy and suggestions. I’ll have to check. I think babiosis, yest, but I don’t know about echinosis. Seems like I’ve been tested for nearly everything under the sun. Relapses are a scary idea. Hard to get rid of the pests. My best to you!

      Try a bit of bentonite in your frit-color mixes. Helps the smeary thing a lot. Thanks for the info about what you’re trying. Keep us all posted.

Leave a Reply