Making Terra Cotta Clay Pots at Home

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Choosing a Method

Creating a terra cotta clay pot means deciding which method you will use to accomplish the task. Will you use a hand building method or a throwing method? Hand building requires a set of skills that includes shaping and forming the clay, using not only the hands, but tools as well. Hand-built pots often use the genius of the potter's mind to reach a final result. Improvising and using everyday objects and materials to make the pot is part of the fun. Thrown pottery is just as challenging, but the actual shape of the pot is formed through the use of a spinning wheel or potter's wheel. Not everyone learns the wheel easily. Diligent practice helps train the hands, eyes and mind to work with the clay.

Work Spaces for Hand Building

Hand-built pottery requires a lot of table space, hand tools and storage for clay. You can buy tools that extrude clay, giving it unusual shapes or turning the clay into perfect tubes. Slab rollers are great additions if smooth sheets or even thicknesses are needed. Hand tools can include items that scrape and smooth; items for nicking or imprinting the surface; and items to use as molds or foundations for shapes.

Work Spaces for Throwing

If using a potter's wheel to create a terra cotta pot, you will need to find additional space to place the wheel and allow for it to be used. Add room for a stool to sit on while throwing and the ability to stand up and sit down easily without bumping or disturbing the clay. Both hand building and throwing require a damp, dark environment with shelving to store the pieces while the clay is drying. A simple plastic covering over each piece helps the drying process occur in an even manner.

Materials to Use

Terra cotta clay pots are made of earthenware clay. Earthenware clay is a low-firing clay and will deform if fired above 2,100 degrees F. In firing terms, earthenware will fire at cone 02 through 08. Earthenware clay comes in various shades of browns and red-browns. Most of what comes from Mexico's potters is earthenware clay.

Creating a Terra Cotta Pot

Can you create a pot just like the ones found at the local nursery or home store? If you have the skills and the right setup, yes. Working from home will require a studio-style setup and there is no reason to believe the same kind of pot could not be made in that environment.

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