Another How-To from

A pot made from wire and broken pieces of terra cotta

Getting here.

The idea of creating this clay pot arose as I was doing some spring cleaning around our backyard deck. As I was picking up the pieces of broken terra cotta--from a clay collander and a broken saucer--I thought "I should do something with these." My first thought was wondering how they would work in one of my frost catchers--maybe the terra cotta would be a good material for attracting or growing frost. So I just started thinking about how I would wrap one of these pieces in wire or string to include it in a frost catcher. This led to thinking about alternative uses and ideas--e.g., taking a bunch of these terra cotta pieces and wiring them into some sort of object (e.g., a clay pot) or display (e.g., a hanging panel). Working on frost catchers as well as on one of Janice's projects the previous fall--creating large stick wall panels--had me primed to think about wrapping things with wire (like broken sticks) and creating objects from this. I liked the images I was coming up with in my mind's eye: broken pieces of clay hanging together with string or being held together in a wire skeleton.

These broken pieces of terra-cotta triggered a creative surge that propelled me through a number of projects. I made my first object--a hanging panel of broken pieces of terra cotta--within hours of getting the idea. Several days later I began began the project shown here--wrapping flat pieces from the saucer in wire "cages" and then wiring these pieces together into the clay pot shown here. I then applied this same wire-wrapping idea in creating a stone pot.

Making it.
Ingredients: Broken pieces from a terra cotta saucer and 22-gauge annealed steel wire--wire that will inevitably rust.
Tools: needle-nosed pliers (for cutting and twisting the wire) and two hands. That's it.
Step one. Select and wrap thirty or more broken pieces of terra cotta in strands of wire--creating a little "cage" for each piece. I generally used two strands of wire for each piece. I used the first strand of wire to make two "loops"--one around opposite "ends" of the piece. The second strand of wire was wrapped perpendicular to the first and used to make one--usually two--more loops around the piece of terra cotta. Wherever the second wire crisscrossed the first wire, it was wrapped around the first wire--to help secure and maintain the "cage." Two examples of wrapped rocks are shown in the photo above.
Step two. Attach the pieces to each other by threading loose ends of wire through cages of other pieces and wrapping or twisting securely. The wire wrapping doesn't have to be perfectly tight, but it's good if it's wrapped enough so it holds its place. I first wired three pieces together to serve as the bottom or base of the bowl. I then used an upside down glass bowl (on a drinking glass pedestal) as a form for shaping and wiring the broken terra cotta pieces into the bowl shape and size that I wanted (see photo below).
Optional step three. Cut off excess wire or trim as you like.

This is an example of the type of terra cotta saucer that provided the broken and weathered pieces for this project. Much of the green glazing had worn off after being outside for several years.

© 2008