I have added a terracotta version of the single section Art Deco now.
This is an exciting development of expanding into this new line of top quality durable kiln fired terracotta. Each hand pressed cast must be carefully dried over about two-three weeks, and hand detailed just as they did in the 1890s, of course production is much slower, and the hand labor is considerably more than the interior cast stone is, this will be reflected in the terracotta line’s price.
A number of my other smaller models are planned to be introduced in this material as well.
Each of these terracotta sculptures are personally signed, numbered and dated works of art.
Please note that hand pressed is NOT the same as the much cheaper, paper-thin slip castings used to produce teapots, china plates, bowls and ceramic pieces!
The two processes are similar only in that both use a complicated plaster mold, the difference between slip casting ceramics and hand-pressing clay is- the slip is simply poured into the mold like a plaster cast, let set a while, drained and removed just like a plaster cast.
Slip casting is a condensation process, with the clay particles condensing by gravity, slip castings are usually very weak, very thin, and easy to break.
A word about so called “COMPOSITE TERRACOTTA” I am seeing on Ebay now, I have never heard of this stuff, but in listings I see NO mention of kiln firing, so one can assume the term: “MADE FROM A COMPOSITE TERRACOTTA” means it is a poured red colored concrete-like material, NOT genuine kiln fired terracotta- there’s a huge difference!
Hand-pressed clay involves real work, physically taking the moist clay and both pressing and ramming small amounts of it into the plaster mold, pressing and working it in to remove air and squeeze the clay into all of the fine details. As the sculpture is built up to the top surface of the mold it is then levelled off on the back and hollowed out by hand, leaving the clay about 1/2 inch to one inch thick.
Hand-pressed work is not a condensation process, the clay is physically compressed into a very dense shell by physically ramming it, the walls are much thicker and the sculpture is extremely dense and high quality.
Once the pressed-clay has remained in the plaster mold used to form it for a few hours, it is carefully removed and laid on a wire rack to begin drying.
Here is another difference- the pressed-clay sculptures are completely gone over with sculpture tools to add back any fine details, accent others, and generally clean up the whole surfaces, this is exactly the same processes used to create all of the architectural terracotta found on old buildings my work is based upon, the only difference between how these sculptures were made in 1890 and how I am making these pressed-clay sculptures is that in the 1890s to speed up production they introduced live steam under pressure to the open backs of the clay sculptures. I don’t have access to large amounts of live steam unfortunately, so the drying out process must be slower to prevent cracking and warping.
The sculptures are fired in the kiln @ 2,060 degrees, otherwise known in the trade as “cone 1” with a slight offset, for about 24 hours.
Tests done on the clay this sculpture is made from using the standard two hour water boil test revealed that the absorption rate of this clay is only 3% which is excellent, most hard commercial bricks aim for a 5 to 6% water absorption to be considered suitable for building facades and garden walls exposed to the weather and rain, 3% puts my sculpture above grade in that regard for resistance to weather and rain.