Terracotta is a hard brownish-red fired clay that is used in sculpture, jewellery, and pottery making. The term Terracotta is an Italian phrase whose meaning is “baked earth”. Terracotta craftsmanship flourished during the European revival. The skilled terracotta artisans of Italy and Germany brought their skills to England and France during the 14th and 15th centuries.
Terracotta Art in India has been expanding since the times of Indus Civilization This art is considered mystical in India, because it incorporates the five elements like air, fire, earth, water and ether.
The entire process of making Terracotta artifact involves the following steps :-
1. Mixture of clay :-
Terracotta is made from a mixture of fine-grained clay made of primarily silica, alumina, and other alkaline material such as lime. You can also buy ready made powdered mixes which are available in the market, then add the right amount of water into it. Pour the mixture into a container, cover with a lid and shake well. After some time, open the lid, so as to allow the clay mixture to become well hydrated. Then you have to knead the composed clay to bring into a malleable form.
2. Give the desired shape :-
Once the mixture has been prepared, give it proper shape by molding it by hand or else using a cast or a pottery wheel.
In order to make pottery item, initially mold the lump of clay into a rope like form. Then coil it upward to produce the desired dimension of the artifact. At the same time use your thumb and forefinger to get smooth result. Also keep a cup of water at hand to soften the work as per requirement.
3. Apply glaze if required :-
Terracotta is an unglazed material. Hence, if you want the final product to be waterproofed with gloss finish, then you can spray a glaze containing variable proportions of water and metallic oxides on the piece of your pottery work. Add powders to the gloss to get desired color of the finished product.
4. Dry and fire your terracotta work :-
Ensure that your terracotta work has been dried properly, before it is fired. Finally, fire your creation in a pottery kiln at a temperature of 1,080 degrees Celsius. The time required for firing may vary from 3 hours to 20 hours depending on the moisture of the clay and the thickness of your creation. Take close attention when use kiln tongs to handle or remove hot clay from the kiln.