When Sarah announced the Terra Cotta Tile project as part of the Flying Hearts Fundraiser, I was eager to participate. I am a huge fan of tiles as it is, and the chance to play with one of her stylized horse designs was too tempting.
I have to admit, however, to being intimidated by terra cotta. It’s not that I haven’t tried it. I was so taken with some of Lynn Fraley’s samples during Mayhem a few years ago that I had some terra cotta slip shipped back to Charlotte. I even cast a number of medallions with it, though until yesterday that was as far as I got.
That’s because Lynn was also generous enough to send us back with some of her Laf’n Bear test tiles in terra cotta to use for glaze testing.
I am sorry to say that these two guys were among the less ugly things I managed to do to her tiles. I seemed to have a knack for turning terra cotta into a shiny brown blob, no matter what glaze combination I tried.
Terra cotta clay creates red dust which contaminates everything around it, so I put the slip away and told myself I would try again another day. Since Sarah has already started pressing tiles – and since they are all made from terra cotta clay – I realize that the time to face my terra cotta terror is now. Fortunately, I did pour a number of test medallions with the slip before I threw in the towel, so I won’t be forced to experiment on the “good” tiles when they arrive!
The sad part is that I have always loved the look of darker clay on tiles. The tile above, made by my friend Melanie Brooks at Earthenwood Studio, is still one of my favorites. It is not terra cotta, but she did the same kind of glaze on a terra cotta colored tile of a wolf that I gave my sister-in-law a few years ago and I’ve always loved the look. Melanie works in stoneware, though, and I’m trying to find a way to get a similar look without leaving the earthenware clay bare.
Hopefully I won’t run out of test pieces before I find something that works!