Italian Terracotta Pots Explained
Italian Terracotta Pots
All of Tom's Yard's Italian terracotta pots hail from a single Pottery in Tuscany, just 40 minutes from Siena. Of Italy's 20 regions, Tuscany is widely known for it's beautiful landscapes and activity surrounding the arts, including being home to the 14th Century Renaissance movement.
Italy is widely known as one of the worlds leading producer of terracotta pots. With a natural abundance of clay, potteries have been taking advantage of the natural resources for centuries.
Now in 2023, there are pots of all qualities coming from Tuscany. The majority of my Italian pots are made with a premium-grade Galestro clay. Unlike standard Italian pots produced with a run-of-the-mill Sienese clay - the clay used to make my Italian pots is blended from a specific rock found in the local clay sediments. This gritty shale is located and then ground up to produce a clay rich in hard minerals. This Galestro clay goes on to create pots with a tremendous colour and solid, frost-hardy qualities.
All of my Galestro quality pots are stamped to provide a reassurance of their quality.
The textured tone of the terracotta is unique compared to standard pots produced elsewhere.
Once fired, the grainy clay binds and takes on a reddish-orange colour with a crystalline, semi-rough finish caused by the mineral salts come to the surface. This is sometimes more noticeable on one pot than another, depending on certain factors such as...
The concentration of mineral salts in the clay
Time spent in the drying room
Handling of the pots during the drying period (visible finger prints)
It is not uncommon to find pots with prints of hands or fingers, which is superb evidence of the handmade nature of the production process.
Although my Italian pots have a superb colour, the best aspect is their hardiness against prolonged British frosts; Tested and supplied to me as -20 Celsius.
We get very damp here in Herefordshire, so it's paramount that all of my pots are up to the job. After importing nearly 20 tonnes of pots, I'm yet to receive any complaints.
Unlike my clay pots from Crete, my terracotta pots from Italy go through a slightly different process.
Once the clay has been processed, the substance is hand-pressed into moulds. It's important to get the moulding spot on to ensure that there are no defects in the finished product.
These moulds are routinely replaced to ensure that the decorative motifs stay crisp and consistent between batches produced throughout the year.
Once the pots have been cast, the next step is to leave them to dry for over 20 days. Over this period the clay pots have the chance to release extra moisture before heading to the kiln.
After bring cured, the pots are fired at very high temperatures (over 1000℃) for three whole days (72 hrs). Although it may seem like a lengthy process, it ensures that your pots are correctly prepared and thoroughly heated. That is the secret to making, what I refer to as, a proper pot.
The total time individually making these pots can vary. However, at most, each pot can take over 1 month from first being made to then being released from the kiln.