Block of the Week: Glazed Terracotta
On the faience
There are three kinds of Minecraft player. Those whose creations are beautiful but useless, those whose constructions are functional but ugly, and the magical unicorns capable of perfecting both beauty and utility in their builds. Today's block of the week is dedicated to the people in the first camp - who just want to make something pretty, and don't care what it does. It's glazed terracotta!
Glazed terracotta is one of the newest additions to Minecraft, having been added in version 1.12 - the appropriately-named World of Color Update. There are sixteen different kinds of glazed terracotta, matching the sixteen traditional colours of dye, and each one can be carefully arranged into different patterns, depending on the direction you're facing when you place it.
Among the patterns, you'll find a few surprises - magenta blocks form arrows, yellow blocks can be arranged into a sun, while cyan blocks feature something a little more explosive. What hidden patterns can you find?
Making glazed terracotta is easy. Toss some regular terracotta (which used to be called hardened clay) in a furnace with some fuel and just wait a few moments. Not got any terracotta? Toss some clay in a furnace with some fuel and just wait a few moments. Not got any clay? Toss some... no wait, a furnace isn't going to help you there. Best go read our Block of the Week for clay to see where you can find it.
As you probably imagine, something that's been through a furnace twice in the game is pretty brittle - so we wouldn't advise using glazed terracotta as a defence against creepers. But the block will definitely liven up any floor, wall or ceiling that you choose to adorn with it.
Suleiman the Magnificent, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566, appreciated that. That's why, when he decided to refurbish Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock, he covered pretty much the whole exterior with "faience". No, that's not a fancy Ottoman fence. It's another word for glazed terracotta, which was invented in the Middle East at some point before the ninth century.
And that's not the only building covered with the stuff. Many city buildings in the United States that date from between 1900 and 1930 are covered with glazed terracotta because it's sturdy, cheap and can easily be molded into pretty much whatever shape you'd like. Chicago, in particular, has loads of the stuff.
So when you're deciding the materials to use for your next construction, make sure that glazed terracotta is up for consideration. You'll have the liveliest colors on the block!