A - Z of ceramics




Agate Ware



Earthenware made to look like agate by building up irregular layers of clays coloured white, brown, green and blue.





A vessel for keeping gravy warm similar in shape to a coffee pot. It has an inner compartment into which water is poured.


John Astbury



Born 1688 died 1743 - Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire.
He was a pioneer of English potting technology and earliest of the great Staffordshire potters.








The flat round iron plate on which the transfer printer keeps the colour warm on the stove.





The wall on the inside of a fuel burning kiln which deflects the flame from the wear.


Banding Wheel



A revolving wheelhead which sits on a pedestal base. It is turned by hand and used for finishing or decorating pottery





A flat disc made out of plaster, wood, or plastic which is affixed to the wheel head with clay or pins. Bats are used to throw pieces on that would be difficult to lift off the wheel head.





A mixture of weighed materials such as a batch of glaze or slip or a clay body.


Belleek Ware



Ware produced in the Belleek factory in Co. Fermanagh. Characteristic was the decorative use of marine motifs.





Once fired clayware that hard but also porous because no glaze has been applied.





Pottery which has been fired once, without glaze, to a temperature just before vitrification.


Bisque Fire



First firing, without glaze. Slips can be used in a bisque firing.


Black Astbury



Design is white in the centre and black around the rim. There is a gold band separating the colours with some additional fine gold designs on the black. Supplied by Wedgwood, to special order.
Plate 27 cm £590.00, Teacup £345.00, Tea saucer £250.00, Covered vegetable dish £2800.00





Container in which slip is mixed.





Name used to describe the composite materials used for the production of any type of ceramic ware.


Bone China



Hard-paste porcelain plus bone-ash (Calcium Phosphate), vitreous ceramic body that is renowned for its strength, whiteness and translucency. The composition of bone china typically contains 45 - 50% cattle bone. Developed by Josiah Spode in the 1790's.


Bone Dry



Completely air dried.


Bottle Oven



The old coal-fired kiln protected with a bottle shaped building that increased the draught and enabled the fireman to more adequately control the firing process.


British Royal Arms



The British Royal Arms was used in the marks of some manufacturers including foreign companies and is useful in dating transfer ware. The pre-1837 mark has a inescutcheon or extra shield in the centre of the larger shield.





The ancient rubbing process of burnishing polishes the outside skin of a clay pot while greatly reducing its porosity. This finishing is done by hand, using a stone or a metal piece which is usually embedded in a wad of wet clay that perfectly fits the burnisher's hand.







Cabaret Service



Collection of porcelain vessels comprising a small breakfast or tea service that often includes a matching wooden tray.


Cadogan Teapot



A type of lidless teapot.





A tool used to measure the diameter of round forms, for example calipers are used to get lids to fit just right.





Technique to move the clay in to a symmetrical rotating axis in the middle of a wheel head so it can be thrown.





Should properly be pronounced 'keramic' From the Greek word keramos, originally the art of making pottery, now a general term for the science of manufacturing articles prepared from pliable, earthy materials that are made rigid by high-temperature treatment.





Hard-paste porcelain plus bone-ash (Calcium Phosphate).


China ware



Term used to describe the true porcelain wares exported from China. Today these wares are known as Chinese Export Porcelain.





Generic term used to describe wares using patterns with Chinese ornamental motifs, particularly those created by European artisans with little or no knowledge of Oriental art.





A piece used to aid the potter in trimming. A chuck is a form that can hold a pot upside-down above the wheel head while the potter trims it. Chucks are thrown and bisque fired clay cylinders which are open on both sides.


Clarice Cliff



(1899 - 1972) Designer of the shapes and decorations applied to mass-produced Art Deco style earthenware.


Clay body



A mixture of different types of clays and minerals for a specific ceramic purpose. For example, Porcelain is a translucent white clay body.


Clobbered Ware



A design produced in underglaze blue (often Chinese) to which enamel painting has been added. Designs printed with outlines for intentional painting in with either over or under glaze enamel are not considered clobbered ware.





Shropshire factory, founded by John Rose.





A piece of clay rolled like a rope, used in making pottery.





Pushing the clay down and together, forcing the particles of clay closer.


Composite Pots



Pots that were thrown or hand built in separate pieces and then assembled.





Cones are specially formulated ceramics formed into triangular, shapes. When placed in a kiln they will soften and bend (or "mature") at a specific temperature when the temperature is increased at a specific rate. If fired faster or slower, the cones will mature at a different temperature and therefore show the 'work' done in contrast to the temperature reached. Cones thus account for the firing history as well as the temperature.





A bare spot (from the shrinking of a glaze) on a finished piece where oil or grease prevents the glaze from adhering to pottery.





Minute cracks in the glaze that occur upon cooling because the rate of shrinkage of the glaze is different from the rate of shrinkage of the body.  It is the result of the glaze shrinking more than the clay body in cooling process.

These cracks can allow moisture and dirt to penetrate the glaze and discolour the ware.





Cream coloured earthenware introduced about 1740 that was greatly improved and made famous by Josiah Wedgwood's "Queensware".


Cross hatching



An engraving technique where thin parallel lines where used to fill areas of a transfer ware pattern. The width and spacing of the lines was used to adjust the tone of the resulting colour.








A slab of refractory clay that is used to close or partially close the flue of a kiln.


Delft ware



Tin-glazed. A porous bodied earthenware with a lead glaze made opaque by the addition of tin oxide.





Factory established (1755) by William Duesbury. Periods :Chelsea Derby (1770 - 1784) Crown Derby (1786 - 1811) Bloor Derby (1811 - 1848).





Royal Doulton.





To keep the foot or bottom of a pot free from glaze by waxing or removing the glaze.










Course and opaque ceramic ware which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Made from clays and silica compounds that when fired is porous and opaque. It is usually glazed to render it impervious to liquids.



Elers Ware



Unglazed smooth-surfaced red stoneware attributed to David and John Elers.


Elton Ware



'Art Pottery' produced by Sir Edmund Elton (1846 - 1920).





Coloured clay slip used to decorate Greenwear or leather hard pieces before bisque firing. Clay and oxide and water.











Process where small flaws and imperfections are corrected.





To heat a clay object in a kiln to a specific temperature.





An insulation brick used to hold the heat in the kiln and withstand high temperatures.


Firing Range



The range of temperature at which a clay becomes mature or a glaze melts.





Table wares that are more or less flat, e.g., plates, saucers, and platters.





A melting agent causing silica to change into a glaze.





Base of a ceramic form.





A glaze material which is derived from flux and silica which are melted together and reground into a fine powder.





Girl-in-a-Swing Factory



(1749 - 1754) Early English porcelain, probably made in London. The name arises from a white figure of a girl in a swing in the Victoria and Albert Museum.





A thin coating of glass. An impervious silicate coating, which is developed in clay ware by the fusion under heat of inorganic materials.
Applied to porcelain or pottery body to make it waterproof and enhance colour. Glazes may be clear, opaque or coloured to various degrees.
[ See Lead Glaze and Salt Glaze ]


Glaze firing



The final firing, with glaze.


Glost ware



A biscuit that has had a glaze applied. Also called white glost or white ware.





Ground up fragments of already fired clay, then used to give a grogged surface.





Unfired pottery. Ready to be bisque fired.






Hollow Ware



Table wares that have significant depth and volume, e.g., cups, bowls, teapots, creamers, and tureens.








Marking leatherhard clay for decorative purposes or to apply a mark





The name "Ironstone China" was adopted by C.J. Mason in 1813 to describe a formula similar to that of stone china. Today, the name is equivalent to earthenware.





Jasper Ware



The familiar densely uniform stone ware in solid colours ornamented in a contrasting hue was Josiah Wedgwood's most important contribution to ceramic art. It was the ability of this new ceramic material to take an admixture of uniform colour that gave the wide range of combinations that mark the development of the range of decorative wares that Wedgwood and his successors at the Wedgwood potteries made into their trademark product.





Machine for making plates, saucers and other flatware.





Machine for making cups, bowls and other hollow ware.








A furnace of refractory clay bricks for firing pottery and for fusing glass.
[See Bottle Kiln}


Kiln Furniture



Refractory posts and shelves used for stacking pottery in the kiln for firing.


Kiln Wash



Mixture of Kaolin, flint and water. It is painted on one side of the kiln shelves to separate any glaze drips from the shelf.






Lead Glaze



Transparent glassy glaze using lead oxide. Often applied to early English soft-paste and earthen wares.


Leather Hard



Stage of the clay between plastic and bone dry. Clay is still damp enough to join it to other pieces using slip. For example, this is the stage handles are applied to mugs.





An English ceramic decoration with pigments containing minute quantities of gold or platinum.










A low fire glazing technique. The process involves applying an opaque tin glaze to earthenware and painting it with different coloured oxides.
The earthenware is usually moulded in bold relief.






A trade name to describe a replacement of a design made earlier either by the same or a different manufacturer.


Matt Glaze



A dull glaze surface, not very reflective when fired. It needs a slow cooling period or it may turn shiny.


Maturing Point



The temperature at which the clay becomes hard and durable.


Merry Andrew



A seventeenth century term for buffoon or clown.





Henry Minton.





William Moorcroft (1872 - 1945). Art Nouveau style, mainly floral





A plaster shape designed to pour slip cast into and let dry so the shape comes out as an exact replica of the mould.









Porcelain figures with detachable heads which oscillate.





Old Gold



A yellow colour applied to the edge of an object, usually earthenware, to give the semblance of a gilded edge.


Opaque Glaze



Non-transparent glaze, it covers the clay or glaze below it.





Cones manufactured by the Orton Foundation are the most commonly used in North America. [ See Cone ]





Oval shaped wares, for example meat platers made on a offset jigger.





Firing with a full supply of oxygen. Electric kilns fire in oxidation. Oxides show bright colours.








Unglazed fine-grained porcelain.





Cream ware with a bluish tinge





A small observation hole in the wall or door of a kiln.





Manipulate clay with you fingers in your palm to a hollow shape. Pinch pots are a popular beginners project.





The quality of clay which allows it to be manipulated into different shapes without cracking or breaking.





hard fine translucent ceramic with a transparent glaze


Posset Pot



Posset was a drink / remedy made from warm milk curdled with ale or wine and flavoured with sugar and spices.
Posset pots usually had two handles and a cover, and some had a spout through which the posset was sucked or poured.


Potters Wheel



A device with either a manual (foot powered) or an electric rotating wheel head used to sit at and make pottery forms.





To mix.


Pug Mill



A machine for mixing clay and recycling clay.






Queen's Ware



Name originally used by Josiah Wedgwood for improved Creamware as presented to Queen Charlotte.








Firing with no excess oxygen in the kiln - different colours can be obtained with some enamels dependant on the oxygen level present during the firing.





Red stoneware, usually unglazed and often decorated with applied motifs in relief.





A rubber, metal or wooden tool used to facilitate wheel throwing of pottery forms.





Family of Staffordshire potters.





Family of Staffordshire potters.










A container made of fireclay into which the pottery to be fired is placed. The sagger protects the pottery from the flames and gases inside the kiln during firing. By stacking the saggers inside the bottle kiln it was possible to load thousands of plates into the kiln at once.

As in 'Sager Maker's Bottom Knocker', a trade (and also a pub in Burslem).





Staffordshire white or cream stoneware with semi-shiney by throwing rock-salt into the kiln at its peak temperature. The salt disassociates into sodium and chlorine ions at the oven temperature thus allowing the sodium to combine with the silica in the clayware to form a glaze that makes the ware non-porous.


Satin Glaze



A glaze with medium reflectance, between matt and gloss.





Style of slipware where a slip coat is used which is of a different colour to the body of the pot and is then decorated by cutting a pattern through the dry slip coat to reveal the contrasting colour of the body of the pot beneath. [ See Wet Sgraffito ]





Pressed or rolled flat sections of clay used in hand building.





A thick slip.





Clay mixed with water, into a liquid, sieved to remove any particles. Used in casting and decoration.






Pottery, usually earthenware, whose decoration is based upon the use of slip.





Maintaining a low steady heat in the early stages of firing to achieve a uniform temperature throughout the kiln.





Josiah Spode.





Applying pre-molded relief motifs to the surface of a pottery object and connecting them by curled stems formed of threads of thinly rolled clay.





A triangular support used to separate plates within the sagger during firing in the kiln. The use of spurs can leave small spots on the surface of the plate. Usually three sets of three spur marks can be found on the underside of the rim and a single spur mark can be found on the upper side of the rim.





Load a kiln to hold the maximum number of pieces.





Oxide and water, used as a colorant for bisque wear.


Stipple punching



An engraving technique where small dots are used to fill larger regions of a transfer ware pattern. The dots are created with a sharp punch that is driven into the copper plate.


Stoke China



Name used by Josiah Spode for English bone china.


Stone China



A type of fine, pale grey porcelainous stoneware that is hard, dense and sometimes translucent. Developed by John and William Turner in 1800, it was reintroduced and popularised by Miles Mason and Josiah Spode around 1812.










Unglazed porous earthenwares.





Creating ceramic shapes on the potter’s wheel.


Transparent Glaze



Transmits light clearly.





A drinking vessel with more than two handles or two set close together.
It is said to have been used in Staffordshire as another word for porringer, but its use to denote taller drinking vessels with several handles has not been traced further back than the nineteenth century.





Under Glaze



The decorating of biscuit ware before the ware is glazed and then fired








The state of a ceramic body which has been rendered non-porous by firing in an oven without the addition of a glaze.









general term for pottery.
[ see Flatware, Holloware, Elers ware, Elton ware etc ]





A vessel or fragment which has been damaged during firing or later in the process of manufacture, and has been abandoned as waste.





A method of kneading clay to make it homogenous by cutting and rolling.





Josiah Wedgwood.


Wet Sgraffito



Crude style of slipware where a pattern is drawn through a trailed slip while it is still wet.
[ See Sgraffito ]





A piece of flatware in which the centre has fallen below the level of the foot rim. This manufacturing fault results and a ware that wobbles or whirls when set on a flat surface.


White ware



Usually refers to undecorated glost ware. Also used to refer to white-bodied earthenware decorated or undecorated and white salt-glazed stoneware of the eighteenth century.





The Wood family of potters