Potters use black and red clay for making terracotta products. The reason behind using black clay is that it is used for fashioning pots and figures and has flexibility to assume any form. The clay is collected from riverbanks and lakeshores. It is mixed with sand and then kneaded by feet to make it smooth. Then small lumps are made. Votive terracotta figures are hollow and created with cylinders and pots of various shapes. Potters throw cylindrical form of clay lumps on wheel to form the limbs, body, neck and head, and these are then joined together to assume the final form. The joining of these parts reveals the mastery of this craft. For joining legs, potters place four legs on the ground in the final position with a carefully measured space in between both the pairs. They place the extended jar-shaped body on the legs with the bigger opening towards the back. Then by piercing a hole in the body and by putting his right hand inside accurately over each leg, they join all the legs. The other parts i.e. neck and head are also joined in a similar manner. On completion of this process the work of decoration begins. As a tradition of offering votive elephant on fulfillment of wish, potters ornate elephant highly with coil decorations covering the whole of their face and back. They are further decorated with rows of small bells. On completion, it is kept under the sun for drying.
Geru or Terra sigillata is a red iron oxide slip prepared from red clay and tree skin. Red clay is dissolved in water and kept in a clay pot (Matka) overnight. Next day, dry skin of a tree is extracted, boiled and mixed with the clay solution. The tree skin makes the color more permanent on the terracotta figure. The mixture is then boiled again, which makes the solution more viscous. Once the solution is ready, it is diluted with water and then applied very thinly on the almost dry unfired ware. It is then slightly burnished with a soft cloth and is allowed to dry again to remove the added moisture. Then the clay products are fired to a lower than normal temperature of approximately 900 °C. The temperature is controlled by a solution of cowdung and water, which is sprayed constantly on the burning hay. Higher firing temperatures tend to remove the burnished effect in the clay surface. It is the last step of the process. Once ready, it makes its way to the market or to a place of religious significance.
1.Making of the elephant: