Ceramics Vocabulary

BISQUE – Unglazed clay, fired once at a low temperature.

BISQUE FIRING – der Rohbrand – The process of firing unglazed clay to a low temperature to harden the clay and drive the physical water from it. The approximate temperature of this firing is 1815 F.

BONE DRY – knochentrocken – Refers to clay which is ready to be fired. All the moisture is gone from the clay. Clay is         VERY FRAGILE at this stage.

CENTERING – zentrieren – The act of aligning the clay on the potter’s wheel in order to proceed with forming and        shaping.

COILS – die Wulst – Rope like pieces of clay.

COIL CONSTRUCTION – die Wulsttechnik – Rope like pieces of clay that are stacked to form a wall and build the object.  This technique is one of the most commonly used hand-building methods.

FIRE – brennen – To bake in a kiln.  Firing is a term used for “cooking” the clay.

FORM – die Form Three-dimensional shape and structure of an object.

GLAZE – die Glasur – A glassy coating that has been melted onto a ceramic surface.  It is used to decorate the piece       and to seal the clay surfaces.

GLAZE FIRE –  der Glasurbrand/Glattbrand – Much hotter than a bisque fire. Firing to temperature at which glaze melts to form a glasslike surface.

GREENWARE – die Irdenware – Unfired pottery that is bone-dry, a state in which clay forms are the most fragile.

HANDBUILDING  One of the oldest craft techniques in which objects are constructed entirely by hand.

INCISING –  Indenting a line into a flat surface.

KILN – der Brennofen – Enclosed containers of various sizes- built of refractor brick and heated by electricity, gas, oil, or    wood to temperatures from 1500 F. to 2340 F. in which ceramic ware is fired.  Also called the “oven” for firing the clay.

LEATHER HARD – lederhart – Refers to clay that is dry enough  but still damp enough to be joined to other pieces   or carved without distortion. Clay at this state resembles leather.  Hard to bend and soft enough to be carved.

MATTE – matt – Not shiny.

PLASTICITY – die Plastizität – Quality of clay that allows it to be manipulated and still maintain its shape without cracking or sagging.

POTS – Have a function (use) like a pot or a bowl.

POTTERY –  Pottery was one of the first art forms explored by mankind. There are many extinct cultures   throughout the world who did not leave behind any written record of their existence. For some of          these civilizations the only evidence of their daily lives comes in the form of pottery. Some pots               were for daily use and some were for ceremonial purposes. Some cultures buried their pots with          their dead, and some had huge garbage dumps where broken pots ended up. Pottery and other         forms of ceramics have left behind an important archeological record

PRESS MOLD – Quetschform – A  form which clay is compressed into, resulting in a repeatable shape or texture.  These are usually made of plaster. We used plastic bowls lined with cheesecloth as press molds.

RAWWARE – Rohware – Unfired clay.

SCORING – aufrauen – Roughing up of the surface of clay for joining.

SLAB – die Platte – Clay which has been made flat by rolling.

SLAB CONSTRUCTION – Plattentechnik – Handbuilding technique in which flat pieces of clay are joined (clay is             flattened and thinned with rolling pin or slab roller)

SLIP – Schlicker – A liquid form of clay used as a glue or as decoration.

SLUMP MOLD – die Gußform/Gießform – A form which is used to support wet clay in the early stages of construction.  They are    typically made of plaster.  We used plastic bowls covered with plastic or newspaper.

STONEWARE – Steinzeug – A type of clay which is usually brownish or grey in color.  It is good for handbuilding      and throwing because of its high plasticity.  Our clay fires to cone 6.

THROWING – drehen – Forming clay on a potters wheel.

UNDERGLAZE – Unterglasur – Colored decoration applied to bisqued clay, then coated with a clear glaze. Typically      made of clay slip and raw pigment.

WEDGING – kneten – Method of kneading clay to make it homogenous; ridding the clay of all air pockets.