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Need some definitions or descriptions of certain key ceramic terms? Check them out here on our Ceramic Vocabulary web page. Don’t see a word you need to know or understand? E-mail us and we’ll add it to the page.

Bat - A slab on which clay is handled, typically a circle piece that can be attached to a pottery wheel head. Made out of various materials.

Bisque - Biscuit - Unglazed clay body fired to a low temperature - typically fired to Cone 04 or around 1945 degrees at slow speed.

Bisque Firing - The process of firing unglazed clay to a low temperature to harden the clay. During this firing at slow speed, all moisture and gases are taken out of the clay body. Ideal temperature to fire to is around 1940-1945 degrees.

Candle - Verb - To fire a clay body slowly at a ramp speed.

Centering - Aligning the clay on the pottery wheel.

Ceramics - The art of making all things made out of clay.

China - A high fire clay body originally from the country of China.

Clay - A naturally occurring aluminum silicate composed primarily of fine-grained minerals. Clay deposits are mostly composed of clay minerals, a subtype of phyllosilicate minerals, which impart plasticity and harden when fired or dried; they also may contain variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure by polar attraction. Organic materials which do not impart plasticity may also be a part of clay deposits.

Coil - Rolling out wet clay into rope like pieces. Pieces can then be stacked to form and build a piece like a cup or vase.

Cone - A ceramic pyramid that melts at a known temperature and is used to indicate the temperature of a kiln.

Earthenware - A low fire clay body, usually fire to 04-06.

Enamel - A vitreous, usually opaque, protective or decorative coating baked on metal, glass, or ceramic ware - not food safe.

Engobe - A colored clay formulated using crushed glass or frit.

Fire - To cook or bake in a kiln.

Glaze - Noun - A ceramic paint typically composed of opaque or transparent colors which becomes vitreous when fired to maturity.

Glaze - Verb - The act of applying ceramic paint.

Glaze Firing - Typically the second firing of a ceramic clay body after it has been Bisque Fired. The temperature for the Glaze Firing will depend on the clay body and the glaze.

Gloss - A shiny finish to a glaze.

Greenware - Any unfired clay body before it is Bisque Fired and is very fragile.

HandBuilding Clay - Sculpting any clay body by hand. Most often ceramic tools are used to carve, engrave, incise the clay.

Incise - Indenting into the wet clay.

Kiln - A furnace or oven for burning, baking or drying, especially for firing pottery.

Leather Hard - When wet clay has dried somewhat but still damp enough to be joined to another piece of clay.

Matte - A non-shiny finish to a glaze.

Oxidation Firing - Any kiln atmosphere with an abundance of oxygen to combust the fuel and oxidize the ceramic materials.  Includes all electric firings, and any gas firing with adequate air to insure complete combustion of the fuel close to the burner - where oxygen atoms combine with hydrogen and carbon to form water and carbon dioxide.

Peephole - A hole or holes on a kiln that is usually covered with a peephole plug. Can be looked through to see ware or cones.

Porcelain - A high fire transparent clay body that you fire to Cone 5 or 6, 8 or 10 (depending on the clay body)  to mature.

Pottery - Pots, dishes, and other articles made of earthenware or baked clay. One of the first forms of art by mankind dating back to 10,000 BC.

Press Mold - A plaster made form to push clay into to create shapes or textures.

Reduction Firing - Refers to a kiln atmosphere which does not have enough oxygen in it to completely consume the fuel as it burns. Due to this deficiency, the flame pulls oxygen molecules out of the clay bodies and glazes, changing their character - Copper red glazes must be fired in a heavy reduction atmosphere, or they will come out green.

Score - To rough the surface of the wet clay in order to attach another piece of wet clay.

Slip - A liquid form of clay typically used to pour into plaster ceramic molds to create shapes.

Stain - Water or oil based paint – not fired. Usually applied to Bisque.

Stoneware - A high fire clay body that fires to maturity over 2100 degrees.

Terra Cotta - A low fire red clay body.

Throwing - To form a shape such as a mug, vase, bowl on a banding wheel or pottery wheel.

Underglaze - A colored liquid clay that is applied to Greenware and sometimes Bisque, then coated with Clear Glaze.

Wash - Ceramic paint applied to clay body and then wiped back so color is in the detail of the piece.

Wedging - Method of kneading clay to get rid of air pockets in the clay.


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