Marrangoni Pottery: Garden Terracotta Production Techniques Seguici su Facebook

How is made Garden Terracotta?

This section briefly describes the current techniques used for the production of large garden terracotta and will try to highlight the pros and cons. This overview does not cover the techniques that are used to produce other types of clay products, such terracotta bricks or tiles.
We must not forget that the quality of the terracotta also depends on other factors, such as the clay used and the firing cycle. Using the Colombino technique for working with poor quality clay or to fire the pottery with a bad firing cycle, produces a good pot from aesthetic point of view but not too good for mechanical strength and frost resistance.
Marrangoni Pottery knows the right balance for making items that are excellent in terms of quality/price and meeting the needs of the market with top quality pottery at reasonable prices.


La produzione a Colombino nei vasi di terracotta da giardino With this technique the pot is made completely by hand, without the use of gypsum molds. First, you have to start with a base of a certain desired thickness. After that, some colombini are made with clay (elongated cylindrical shapes, similar to salami) and are laid one above the other starting from the base, to make the wall of the pot. The skill of the craftsman makes the production of the pottery of the right thickness and decorations possible and therefore any shape is possible. Using this technique requires, in addition to the skillfulness of the potter, a considerable amount of time to make the pot and the technique was therefore overcome by the use of gypsum molds. However, it is still used today to create large and unique pieces. We can recognize the vases made using the traditional colombino method by the typical fingerprints of the craftsman on the inside of the pot, since the outside is carefully finished, the inside is often left rough to save on production time.
One of the distinctive features of the pots made with colombino, is that it is highly unlikely to have perfectly identical copies as each piece is unique.
Today this technique is used with the best quality clay and is for high-end customers who want to have a unique piece of Tuscan handcrafted terracotta in their space.



La produzione dei vasi in terracotta da giardino, fatta a mano con stampe in gesso You must first create models or gypsum molds with which to cast the clay. Each mold is the negative imprint of the pot that we will produce and must be made with the utmost care. Each mold can be used to produce many hundreds of pots, after which the gypsum mold undergoes abrasion and the decorations will begin to dissapear. Therefore the molds are replaced periodically.
The craftsman uses their hands and special tools to press the clay into the mold and to finish the inner part of the pot. Then you need to wait for the mold to absorb the water contained in the clay to allow the pot to contract and to become separated from the mold. At this point, the pots are finished apart from minor details on the exterior decorations.
Unlike the colombino, this technique uses gypsum molds, and therefore the pieces produced are more or less identical.



La produzione dei vasi da giardino, realizzata con tornio a modine e stampe in gesso This technique can only be used on round pots and uses a machine able to create the internal shape. The machine is a lathe, the mold is positioned on the rotating base and using a special tool the operator can shape the inside of the pot. The clay is put into the spinning mold without particular attention to the consistency and then the turning of the lathe will produces shape of the pot with the right thickness. Then the mold must be allowed to absorb the water contained in the clay before it can be removed. Finally, the exterior decoration of the pot is hand finished.
Unlike the handmade gypsum mold technique, for pots casted with the lathe can only be made in round shapes.


Press Machined with Gypsum Molds

Terracotta prodotta con pressa e stampa in gesso With this technique, it is very easy to create pots. Generally the machines are full or semi automatic and you simply need to enter the clay into the mold and the machine performs the cast and mold release immediately the pot. The only manual step is the finishing that must be performed by hand.
Pots can be made in many shapes, both round and square, with or without decorations. The pot is detached from the cast by using compressed air. At this point the pot is very similar to pots that have been handcrafted concerning properties such as frost resistance.


Press Machined with Metal Molds: industrial production

Terracotta prodotta con pressa e stampa in metallo This production process is similar to that described previously with the difference that the molds are made of metal. In order to detach the pot from the metal mold it is necessary to use a very dense clay and an oily release agent is sprayed on the metal mold before pressing.
These two elements, the dense clay and the oil, mix during the construction of the pot and are the main reasons for the poor quality product and its lack of resistance to frost. The result is that often, in the early years, you can see the classic flaking and exfoliation of the pot.