Terracotta is clay based ceramic. The baking is the most important step of terracotta’s making. During this process, the colour of terracotta can change and the tonality could be yellow or red. The change of colour is one of the most important differences between terracotta and ceramic.
According the researches, terracotta was used for the construction of wonderful utensils and artifacts by many populations as for example Chinese, Egyptian and Persian populations. Furthermore, even in Italy terracotta had a great tradition. The middle age is the period in which terracotta started the fortune. Nowadays, in Tuscany there are many villages where it is possible to find old school of artisans. This is the case of Impruneta, a small village close to Florence. Obviously, terracotta is present in this area because the geological conformation of the land gives the possibility to have great quantity of terracotta materials.
Usually terracotta is used for the resistance to ageing, for the solidity and the lightness of the material. This is the reason why the old population used terracotta as material of construction that was called laterizio. Terracotta is a perfect material for the creation of jars, plates and everything is connected to the conservation and the food baking.
Furthermore, terracotta is a thermal insulating material so the objects made by terracotta heat up and transfer the heat slowly. For this reason the bowl of terracotta are perfect for the preparation of risotto or vegetable soups because that dishes need a slow baking and a moderate temperature. Even if terracotta has great quality and it is very important in many uses, this material presents any limitations. Terracotta is a fragile material so it’s suggested to limit the temperature jump. It is very common to have terracotta bowls. However, in order to prevent the break of terracotta bowls, it is recommended to put into the water for at least 12 hours.
As regard the creation of terracotta, the process of making is presented by the following steps. Before starting the manufacturing of terracotta, the first step consists in the selection of the clay.
The second step is the modeling. In this case it is possible to have different kind of modeling tools. For example, there is the modeling made by free hand.
There is the colombino modeling . This modeling tool is generally used for the creation of jar and bowls. Finally there are other three kind of modeling. There are colombino modeling, the modeling of plates, the tornio modeling and the mold modeling.
The third step of terracotta manufacturing is the drying. At the beginning of the modeling, the humidity and the contraction of the clay are not so high, so for this reason the object has to dry very slowly.
Finally, the last step of the process is the baking of the material. When the drying is finished, it is possible to conclude with the final process of the manufacturing: the baking. This final step could be very long. The temperature of terracotta is between the 960°C and 1030 °C.