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Glossary of pottery terms

Pottery Glossary

Here are some of the technical terms potters use to describe the different stages of work they undertake to create ceramic works:

Bisque ~ Ware that has been low-fired to porous state in preparation for applying glaze

Cone ~ Pyrometric measurement system indicating the temperature within the kiln. Cones are formulated to melt at different temperatures ranging from 017 (lowest temp) up to 01 and 1 to 14 (highest).

Food safe ~ All ingredients in a given clay or glaze formula are non-toxic and stable after firing to appropriate temperature

Green ware ~ bone-dry pots before bisque firing

Hand built ~ Pieces that are constructed with slabs, coils or pinched balls of clay without the use of a potter’s wheel

Leather hard ~ Partially dried wares suitable for trimming, carving and some decorating processes

Oxidation ~ Firing method in which oxygen is flows freely throughout the kiln

Reduction ~ Method in which the fire is deprived of  oxygen at different stages of the firing

Slip ~ Liquified clay that can be coloured with oxides and stains and used for decoration on leather hard wares or greenware

Under glaze ~ A formulation of clay and colour ingredients that can be used to decorate the surface of bisque wares prior to adding clear or translucent glaze

Vitrified ~ Clay and glaze ingredients are fired to temperature that fuses all ingredients to a non-porous state

Wheel thrown ~ Work created on a potter’s wheel

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