Earthy Materials | Terracotta Inspiration

Materials, Rooms / Monday, February 26th, 2018


What is terra cotta?

The terracotta (from the Italian terra cotta ‘baked earth’) is clay modeled and hardened in the kiln, the foundation of ceramic works, used both for containers and for the creation of sculptures and architectural decoration. We know that it was used in Etruria (nowadays Italy),  to make sarcophagi. In Merimde, nowadays Egypt,  it was used from the fourth millennium B.C.

Terracotta color palette inspiration

The History of Terracotta

Since ancient times, clay has been for mankind the most important material for making objects. It abounds in nature and is easy to model simply with your hands, without the need for utensils. Clay is a mixture of minerals with a few organic substances.

Before the lathe was invented, the human being modeled the clay with his hands, preparing a paste that he then pressed and washed to finally let it decant into small containers. Once this operation was done, the dough was pressed until it was shaped, or else spiral rolls of clay were wound. The lathe came to facilitate the work and helped to perfect it.

If the object requires for its completion to add a handle or a spout, these elements are incorporated after the work of the lathe. Once the piece is finished, the drying process comes during which the terracotta loses part of the water. Then it is cooked in a special oven that gradually reaches a temperature around 1830F . The dough becomes harder and more compact.