Architectural Terra-cotta
May 31, 2007 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Terra-cotta (Italian for "earth-cooked") was once a versatile material for architecture ornamentation. (A short video about the process) [QuickTime] It was generally used to supplement brick and tiles of similar colour in late Victorian buildings. The Natural History Museum in London has been called architect Albert Waterhouse's Terracotta Menagerie. (Take the Terracotta Tour.) Examples of architectural terracotta in America: Buffalo, NY, St. Louis, MO, Washington State, and many, many buildings in NYC (including 200 Gargoyles and Chimera salvaged from lost buildings). Just when you thought the past might be vanishing a little too quickly, terra cotta is coming back in new ways. See also: Understanding and Concerving Terracotta and The Preservation of Historic Glazed Architectural Terra-Cotta.
posted by spock (8 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also good with berry sauce. Oh terra-cotta.
posted by pmbuko at 2:20 PM on May 31, 2007


Hey spock, great minds think alike. I'd been wanting to make a post like this for awhile and never got around to it. I'm glad you did. I only have one link to add, Gladding McBean, one of California's oldest architectural terra cotta makers. The company has created pieces that can be seen all over the world. The company still produces architectural terra-cotta.
posted by luminous phenomena at 2:35 PM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


As does Boston Valley Terra Cotta. (I believe that they are the only two in the U.S.). Click on "Projects" for some restoration projects around the country.
posted by spock at 2:40 PM on May 31, 2007


It's good for building armies as well.
posted by quin at 2:57 PM on May 31, 2007


One of the best place in Italy, where you can buy terracotta articles (plates) is in Sicily: Caltagirone, a little town near Palermo.
Caltagirone has also enjoyed a resurrection of it's ceramics and majolica industry in the last two centuries.

It's a great place
posted by giuonline at 3:20 PM on May 31, 2007


Great post, but you forget the Wrigley Building in Chicago.

One of the most striking features of the Wrigley Building results from being clad in approximately 250,000 individual glazed terra cotta tiles, the most extensive use of terra cotta in the world during the time of construction. Each tile is uniquely identified in a computer database that enables consistent tracking and maintenance of each and every tile located on the building.
posted by wfrgms at 3:46 PM on May 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Excellent post, spock - thank you!
posted by madamjujujive at 5:52 PM on May 31, 2007


I could still hear the musicians
cajoling those thousands of clay
horses and horsemen through the squeeze
when I woke beside Carlotta.
Life-size, also. Also terra-cotta.
The sky was still a terra-cotta frieze
over which her grandfather still held sway
with the set square, fretsaw, stencil,
plumb line, and carpenter's pencil
his grandfather brought from Roma.
Proud-fleshed Carlotta. Hypersarcoma.
For now our highest ambition
was simply to bear the light of the day
we had once been planning to seize

-"Beijing" from Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon
posted by exlotuseater at 7:43 PM on May 31, 2007


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