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I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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St. Louis terra cotta, and a little bit of brownstone

For some reason I'm not sure of, St. Louis has some of the most beautiful terra cotta I've ever seen. St. Louis came of prosperous age in the heyday of terra cotta, but so did a lot of American cities. Does anyone know why the density and quality in St. Louis?

Terra cotta is fired clay. ("Terra cotta" literally means "baked earth.") The decorative detail is carved or otherwise created in the mold, so the pieces can be turned out in quantity (not huge quantity, but the molds can be re-used a limited number of times and they themselves can be mass-produced, depending on their material and the material of the original art). Often terra cotta was used to simulate carved stone: marble, limestone, or sandstone. Like any fired clay, terra cotta can be either glazed or unglazed.

Don't confuse terra cotta, the red-brown color, with terra cotta, the stuff. The red-brown color is the color of the clay in Italy that gave the stuff its name. Terra cotta as a building material can be red-brown, but is more often white or gray. If it's colored the color is usually in the glaze.

As always, click on any photo to get to my Flickr page.

terra cotta column capital
elaborate column capital

terra cotta pendants
three dimensional overhang

terra cotta corner
fancy corner

terra cotta -- some real, some painted
the terra cotta on the right is original; on the left, it's a blank wall with new trompe l'oeil paint

terra cotta detail
odd proportions but a lovely face

glazed terra cotta
glazed terra cotta

terra cotta train coming at you
this is on a former railroad headquarters building

terra cotta face with speckles
the speckles are in the glaze, to simulate minerals in stone

carved brownstone
this is carved brownstone, not terra cotta

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