Working the Clay


Terracotta

Which gives Tuscany its distinctive look of tiled roofs and terraces, adds refinement and class to any environment, as well as being extremely resistant against time and climatic conditions.The tradition of terracotta in the area goes as far as the Etruscan times, however, systematic production started in the early Medieval period. Even the great masters of Reneissance recognised the supreme quality of the Impruneta clay, which was chosen as the material also for the dome of the cathedral in Florence, the largest brick dome ever built until this day.

Despite the long tradition and its history, few are aware of the lenghty procedure and painstaking skill that goes into creating each single terracotta object, be it a vase or a pavement tile.

The story

begins with the particular clay – galestro, a clay-like material with unique characteristics – found in the heart of Tuscany, enriched with oxides and iron, which is carefully crumbled and mixed before adding water to it. This clay is then hand-pressed into plaster moulds, also handmade by master artisans in the workshop.

When the object begins to harden, it is removed from the mould. Final details are added by expert hands, working with precision to refine the object. The next phase is time-consuming and extremely delicate: the drying process takes place over several days in a special area where moisture is eliminated from each piece, in preparation for firing. Conditions during this process can make or break the product as changes in the drying process can lead to breaking or cracking.

Firing takes place in a kiln which reaches temperatures of over 1000°C. After two days in the kiln the items acquire the typical rosy red colour and resistance to climatic changes. After firing, each terracotta piece is immersed in water; this soaking process stabilizes the product while further improving its quality.

Enzo Zago Terrecotte are frost resistant and extremely long-lasting. Terracotta changes its appearance over the years when exposed to climatic changes, which only adds to the beauty and character of the product whithout compromising its functionality.