Terracotta, Terra cotta or Terra-cotta (Italian: "baked earth", from the Latin terra cocta) is a clay-based unglazed ceramic, although the term can also be applied to glazed ceramics where the fired body is porous and red in color. Its uses include vessels, water and waste water pipes and surface embellishment in building construction, along with sculpture such as the Terracotta Army and Greek terracotta figurines. The term is also used to refer to items made out of this material and to its natural, brownish orange color, which varies considerably. In archaeology and art history, "terracotta" is often used of objects not made on a potter's wheel, such as figurines, where objects made on the wheel from the same material, possibly even by the same person, are called pottery; the choice of term depending on the type of object rather than the material.
Production and propertiesEdit
An appropriate refined clay is partially dried and cast, molded, or hand worked into the desired shape. After further thorough drying it is placed in a kiln, or atop combustible material in a pit, and then fired. After pit firing the hot ware is covered with sand to cool, and after kiln firing the kiln is slowly cooled. When unglazed, the material will not be waterproof, but it is suitable for in-ground use to carry pressurized water (an archaic use), for garden ware, and sculpture or building decoration in tropical environments, and for oil containers, oil lamps, or ovens. Most other uses such as for table ware, sanitary piping, or building decoration in freezing environments require that the material be glazed. Terracotta, if uncracked, will ring if lightly struck, but not as brightly as will ware fired at higher temperature, which is called stoneware. The fired material is weak compared to stoneware.
Some types of terracotta are created from clay that includes recycled terracotta ("grog").
The unglazed color after firing can vary widely, but most common clays contain enough iron to cause an orange, orangish red, or brownish orange color, with this range including various colors described as "terracotta". Other colors include yellow, gray, and pink.
Terracotta has been used throughout history for sculpture and pottery, as well as bricks and roof shingles. In ancient times, the first clay sculptures were dried (baked) in the sun after being formed. Later, they were placed in the ashes of open hearths to harden, and finally kilns were used, similar to those used for pottery today. However only after firing to high temperature would it be classed as a ceramic material.
In art history Edit
Crude terra-cotta female figurines were uncovered by archaeologists in excavations of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, two large urban sites of the Indus Valley period (3000-1500 BC). Along with phallus-shaped stones, these suggest some sort of fertility cult and a belief in a Mother Goddess. The Burney Relief is an outstanding terracotta plaque from Ancient Mesopotamia of about 1950 BC.
The ancient Greeks Tanagra figurines are mass-produced mold-cast and fired terracotta figurines. Significant uses of terracotta have included Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Terracotta Army of China, built in 210–209 BC.
Precolonial West African sculpture also made extensive use of terracotta. The regions most recognized for producing terracotta art in this part of the world include the Nok culture of central and north-central Nigeria, the Ife/Benin cultural axis in western and southern Nigeria (also noted for its exceptionally naturalistic sculpture), and the Igbo culture area of eastern Nigeria, which excelled in terracotta pottery. These related, but separate, traditions also gave birth to elaborate schools of bronze and brass sculpture in the area.
French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse made many terracotta pieces, but possibly the most famous is The Abduction of Hippodameia depicting the Greek mythological scene of a centaur kidnapping Hippodameia on her wedding day. American architect Louis Sullivan is well-known for his elaborate glazed terracotta ornamentation, designs that would have been impossible to execute in any other medium. Terracotta and tile were used extensively in the town buildings of Victorian Birmingham, England.
In chemistry, pieces of terracotta are used as a heterogeneous catalyst to "crack" long-chain alkanes. This process is useful for obtaining more useful products, such as gasoline or petrol, from less useful ones, such as highly viscous long chain alkanes.
Advantages in sculpture Edit
As compared to bronze sculpture, terracotta uses a far simpler process for creating the finished work with much lower material costs. Reusable mold-making techniques may be used for series production. Compared to marble sculpture and other stonework the finished product is far lighter and may be further glazed to produce objects with color or durable simulations of metal patina. Robust durable works for outdoor use require greater thickness and so will be heavier, with more care needed in the drying of the unfinished piece to prevent cracking as the material shrinks. Structural considerations are similar to those required for stone sculpture.
Terra cotta is a color between orange and brown. Template:Infobox color
- Architectural terracotta
- Glazed architectural terracotta
- List of colors
- Terracotta Army
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- Article on terracotta in Victorian and Edwardian Terracotta Buildings
- Bibliography, Smithsonian Institution, Ceramic Tiles and Architectural Terracotta
- Tile Heritage Foundation (US)
- Friends of Terra Cotta, non-profit foundation to promote education and preservation of architectural Terracotta
- Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society (UK)
- ↑ Merriam-Webster.com
- ↑ OED, "Terracotta"
- ↑ ‘Diagnosis Of Terra-Cotta Glaze Spalling.’ S.E. Thomasen, C.L. Searls. Masonry: Materials, Design, Construction and Maintenance. ASTM STP 992 Philadelphia, USA, 1988. American Society for Testing & Materials.
- ↑ ‘Colour Degradation In A Terra Cotta Glaze’ H.J. Lee, W.M. Carty, J.Gill. Ceram.Eng.Sci.Proc. 21, No.2, 2000, p.45-58.
- ↑ ‘High-lead glaze compositions and alterations: example of byzantine tiles.’ A. Bouquillon. C. Pouthas. Euro Ceramics V. Pt.2. Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland,1997, p.1487-1490 Quote: “A collection of architectural Byzantine tiles in glazed terra cotta is stored and exhibited in the Art Object department of the Louvre Museum as well as in the Musee de la Ceramique de Sevres.”
- ↑ 'Industrial Ceramics.' F.Singer, S.S.Singer. Chapman & Hall. 1971. Quote: "The lighter pieces that are glazed may also be termed 'terracotta.'
- ↑ Jacob Neusner, ed. World Religions in America. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
- ↑ H. Meyerowitz; V. Meyerowitz (1939). "Bronzes and Terra-Cottas from Ile-Ife". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 75 (439), 150-152; 154-155.
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