In Matera the production of artefact in terracotta was flourishing (objects for domestic use, materials for building) because of the large availability of clay in the zone.
It was extracted from the gullies and the lake basins and carefully cleaned up to eliminate the lime in order to avoid that the objects produced get bursted during the cooking. Subsequently it was made soft by the ‘pestacreta’, that made it workable crushing it under their feet and keeping it wet adding water. When the potter was ready he modeled the clay with the help of the lathe, a consistent rudimentary tool made of two wood disks connected by an iron support moved by the potter’s feet. The objects produced were cooked in the furnaces which were great ovens that the potter brought to elevated temperatures using as fuel branches of olive trees or the flax or wheat straw. In the furnaces were produced bricks, plates, terracotta pots, gutters, jugs of various dimensions.
The objects present in every house were: ‘spése‘: a single-plate in which ate the whole family, ‘uauattidd‘: a kind of plate for the meat, vegetables and salad, ‘maiustr‘: larger version of the uauattidd used for storing the yeast; ‘giorl‘: a carafe with the rounded edge and single handle used for pouring water or wine, ‘chicm‘: with the narrow mouth and two handles under the neck used to bring the water on workplace, ‘rzzil‘: a little painted jug with wide neck and triangle-shaped mouth, ‘rzzoul‘: a more capacious pitcher with straight neck and two handles used to draw the water from the fountain, ‘capase‘, ‘capasoni‘, ‘pedali‘ that were bigger containers used to store water, oil, wine, olives…
In Matera there were whole families of potters that operated in Via della Croce.
There were also produced ‘cuccù‘ that were vivacious-colors whistles representing dolls, hens, flowers baskets, men of the law or eccentric sculptures: they were created by the hands and from the imagination of the ‘pestacreta’ boys that sold them trying to rise up the miserable pay they got.