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What is Terracotta Made Of?

What is Terracotta Made Of?

Terracotta is an ancient material, beloved for its accessibility, versatility, and rich reddish-brown coloring. The oldest surviving terracotta dates back to 3000 BCE, serving as the primary medium for Early Bronze Age figurines. In fact, terracotta is so iconic, it’s become an eponymic term. You’ll often hear people use the word “terracotta” to describe color or pottery in general. But what exactly is terracotta and what is it made of? In this article, we’ll explore where terracotta comes from as well as its many uses.

What is Terracotta?

Terracotta is Italian for “baked earth.” It’s essentially a type of ceramic; more specifically, it’s an earthenware clay with an orange to reddish-brown hue. The color comes from its rich iron content. When the iron reacts with oxygen, it produces that quintessential rust coloring.

How is Terracotta Made?

Terracotta begins its journey in the ground. You can find this natural clay almost anywhere in the world, making it accessible and inexpensive. Since it is soft and pliable, you can easily shape it into any form. Potters and ceramic artists sometimes use water and pottery wheels to help them shape the clay more efficiently. Once it’s shaped, you’ll need to fire at around 1000 degrees fahrenheit in order for it to harden. Ancients used the sun to dry terracotta while modern craftsmen use kilns. Many choose to leave it unglazed. However, since it is porous, terracotta requires glazing to make it waterproof.

What is Terracotta Used For?

The most famous uses for terracotta include pottery and sculptures. Terracotta is also popular in architecture and home decor. You’ll find it in bricks, roof tiles, floor tiles, and even backsplashes. Since terracotta is widespread in Mediterranean and Mexican architecture, it’s deeply connected to Tuscan, Spanish, and Southwestern design. 

Elevate Your Space With Reclaimed Terracotta From Impression

If Old World style appeals to you, choose reclaimed terracotta from Impression. We’ve salvaged beautiful and unique terracotta tiles from French farmhouses, chateaux, and other architectural structures. Choosing reclaimed terracotta for your home is not only environmentally friendly, but it’s also distinctly charming. We know you’ll love the culturally rich feel and Mediterranean vibe terracotta brings to a space. Contact us today to learn more about terracotta and natural stones.