Can You Make Your Own Terracotta Pots? (Quick Facts)

If you are making clay objects, by now you have surely found your favorite material that you like to work with. You may even have a favorite technique with which you process clay, to get the next pot, cup, or vase.

But what if you want to try something new? Have you thought about making something out of terracotta? How does terracotta behave about other types of clay? 

In its name, terracotta is called “baked earth”, which is why it is clear to you that it represents the layers of the earth’s surface that are heat-treated, after shaping, and before being used as a tray, dish or cup. 

It is great that it has a cheerful red shade after baking, so its special advantage is that it is decorative and brings liveliness to the space where you want to put it.

What Is Used to Make Terracotta Pots?

Terracotta as a word from the Italian language can be used for any type of baked clay, decorations such as roses, small statues, but also tiles for the bathroom or your new kitchen.

Speaking of terracotta statuettes, have you ever heard or read about “Terracotta Army”? It was a collection of sculptures of soldiers placed around the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, to protect him in his afterlife as well. 

They were made in the sizes they had in the army, the infantry the smallest, the general the largest, and the tomb numbered about 8,000 figures. This example can be good proof of the durability of a material such as terracotta, for your making clay pots.

The composition of terracotta dishes is usually clay and water, with the use of a type of red clay, ie. the one that turns red after baking. The ratio of the mixture of clay and water should be such that the mixture is easily shaped so that it is not very thin so that it does not melt… but you already know all that.

Terracotta Army: Wikipedia

How is Terracotta Clay Made?

Terracotta can be “made” in two ways:

  • You can dig it out of the ground like a land full of iron, which gives answers to several questions that we will write about later.
  • It can be prepared from a special mixture of clay and water, which is best for making dishes of intense red color, which you can use as dishes, decorations, and plates.

The high concentration of iron in this type of clay is the main reason why:

  • This clay has a strong, dark, red color
  • It can be baked at low temperatures around 1100 degrees Celsius or 2012F

It does not retain water because it is quite porous, which is why it is not good for vases in which you will keep cut flowers or trays in which you will bake groceries. This is because each form of clay has crystal particles that melt during firing and fill the space between other particles, which is called “vitrification”. 

Terracotta has a small amount of this type of particles, and the space between the grains of sand and earth is not filled with a glassy structure, which is why terracotta containers are porous, they do not retain liquid.

The advice that you should not put a cold dish in a preheated oven is especially valid if you use terracotta dishes because it is easy to crack. Therefore, in several places in this part of the website, we have emphasized how to overcome the mentioned terracotta flaws, such as glazing and re-baking. 

You can also process different red clay pots, as we suggested in this post. We are sure that true lovers of making clay pots do not only see the “flaws”, nor do they write off terracotta and think of it as a type of material that is only suitable for bricks and tiles for roofing. 

If you have a creative imagination, we are sure you will use it in the best possible way.

Terracotta has its advantages and is a favorite for work, but our recommendation is to choose it for coasters, decorative dishes, and similar dishes, as well as tiles that can be equally glazed, so add a high gloss to them. Or you don’t have to, keep that earthy look, the choice is up to you.

What Is the Difference between Terracotta and Clay Pots?

When it comes to the difference between terracotta and clay pots, it’s a matter of taste. If you want containers in which you will prepare food, keep flowers and pour liquid, then terracotta is not for you. 

If you still want pots for decorating the space or fire-red tiles – terracotta is your choice. In addition to an extremely beautiful appearance and fitting into various decorations with which you want to decorate your home, the specificity of terracotta is that it is baked at lower temperatures. 

Clay pots can also suffer from significantly higher temperatures, glazing, and turning into ceramics.

Is it Easy to Make Your Terracotta Pots?

So, let’s go back to the question from the beginning of this text: is it possible to make your terracotta pots? 

Our answer is – definitely yes if you keep a few things in mind:

  • Terracotta is porous and difficult to retain liquid, do not use it to prepare food in the oven, or to hold flowers that you have cut
  • Terracotta has a bright red color due to the high percentage of iron in the composition, which is why it is baked at lower temperatures of 1100 degrees Celsius. Do not put a cold pan in a preheated oven, as this could cause it to burst.

When you have taken everything into account, and you still want to work with terracotta, we recommend that you check out other content on our website, to get the right information and inspiration that can help you create your favorite pieces of terracotta clay.

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