[Clayart] terra cotta tableware

sumi sumi at herwheel.com
Fri Sep 16 03:24:12 UTC 2022

I don't use earthenware but I have asked earthenware potters this question.

One approach is to use terra sigillata on any unglazed surface (i.e. the 
bottom) to reduce leaking. Another approach is to make the surface that 
contacts the kiln shelf as small as possible - that is, a very narrow 
foot ring, or small pointy feet - and glaze very close to the bottom so 
the unglazed area is as small as possible. Some potters may even fire on 
stilts so they don't have to leave an unglazed foot - if the glaze is 
not too glossy or runny, stilts will leave a minimal mark. Of course 
these approaches only work as long as the glaze is uncrazed, and 
presumably any glaze will eventually craze on an earthenware pot.

Many potters who use earthenware bisque higher than they glaze, to make 
the clay body as tight as possible.

Some potters who use earthenware don't really worry about leaking. They 
make things that are not likely to stand with liquid in them (no vases). 
They may recommend against putting their ware in the microwave or 

Earthenware can be dried out after using and washing by placing in a 
warm oven to mitigate against its tendency to absorb water over time.

Unglazed earthenware cookware (like the Rumertopf or micaceous clay 
cookware, or Moroccan tagines) are made to be used in an entirely 
different way from stoneware. The technique of drying them out in the 
oven, or on a diffuser over a burner, works well with this kind of ware.

> Hi All -
> There has been a question of terra cotta utilitarian ware - how is it made so
> its serviceable and doesn't leak.  Inquiring minds are curious -
> In my childhood the common dimestore dishes were earthenware - coffee cups,
> soup bowls, the whole 9 yards.  The stuff didn't leak, so....
> How does one make utilitarian ware of low fire clay?
> I know there are folks on this list who know, please tell the rest
> of us.
> Carol in sunny the Dalles Oregon

Sumi von Dassow
President, Beulah Valley Arts Council

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