Terracotta is a term used generally for sculptures made in earthenware, and also those forms created for various utilitarian purposes like vessels, flower pots, bricks etc. Pottery is a specialized art that has always fascinated art lovers.
Terracotta has been used for a very long time with Archaeologists finding many terracotta sculptures, more than 5,000 years old. In ancient era, the clay sculptures were sun dried and later placed in open hearths before finally being placed in kilns.
The Art of Making Pottery
The major step in making Pottery involves collecting appropriate refined clay, to get the desired shape. After drying, the clay is placed in a kiln or on the top of combustible material located in a pit, and it is then fired. The temperature of the fire should be around 1,000 °C and during this process, the iron reacts with oxygen which results in a fired body or reddish color.
The overall color generally varies widely with various shades of yellow, buff, orange, red, pink, grey or brown. Fired terracotta may not be watertight, but the process of surface-burnishing before firing can reduce the porosity while a layer of glaze makes it watertight. The pottery created with terracotta is used for garden pots or decorative purposes in many environments, as well as oil lamps, or ovens. There is painted terracotta available too which is initially covered with a thin coat of gesso, followed by painting. The process of firing at high temperature is the key in terracotta pottery.
Terracotta Making in AP
In AP, Palamaner Mandal in Chittoor District is quite popular for its attractive and varied Terracotta Pottery. The locally available mud/clay is considered suitable for pottery work. The potters here make use of two kinds of mud which are mixed together to make the end products. Black mud and Red mud sourced locally is used. The potters create an array of craft products and these Terracotta products are finally painted, as customers prefer painted objects increasingly these days, compared to the natural terracotta ones.
There are wide varieties of Terracotta items available here. Terracotta artisans here make several articles, like lamps, pots, musical instruments, flower vases, horses, idols, plates, elephants, and other highly attractive artefacts. The ‘Terracotta Crafts Centre’ located here on the Bangalore-Chennai highway has been a hub of Terracotta pottery in AP for more than a decade. There are more than 20 small open-air outlets existing here alongside the highway, where dozens of artisans display their work.