You may have had a chance to make little pinch pots or larger bowls in clay, using coils of clay to build up the sides of your artistic creation. Skilled potters also throw bowls, vases and other containers on a potter’s wheel. Not as easy as it looks, it’s common for a piece to collapse just as you think it’s perfect.
In ancient days, clay was the primary material for all sorts of containers. From dried seeds for the next year’s planting to unguents and oils that were the moisturizers of the time, clay containers, generally with wax seals, were in steady use. Eventually clay, when combined with straw for strength, made bricks and unglazed clay tile not unlike the ones above replaced dirt for floors.
Today most of our clay tiles and containers are glazed and professionally fired. However, it’s still possible to find clay flooring that echoes that older approach. In rural Mexico, unglazed tiles are made from local clay and dried in the sun. Colors change from tile to tile and the surface is uneven. You may even see a paw print or two from local small animals who happen to run across a few tiles on their way from one side of the outdoor tile studio to another.
The image to the right shows how beautiful these tiles and pots can be in an outdoorsetting. The look is rustic but it has its own type of elegance. Terra cotta becomes its own neutral against the red, green and dark browns of the other elements.
Thanks to modern production methods, ceramic tile today comes in a rich selection of sizes, shapes and colors. But don’t dismiss the magic of the original clay products – simple tiles and pots such as those displayed in this space.