Pottery glossary

Bat – a disc that fits on the potter’s wheel that enables us to easily remove our pieces after we’re done throwing them.

Bisque firing – the first of two firings. Once bisque fired, your piece is ready to glaze.

Bisqueware – pots that have undergone their first firing. Bisqueware is stronger than greenware but is still fairly fragile, so handle it gently.

Bone dry – the state of clay where all of the moisture has left and it is completely dry. It will be pale in color and it won’t feel cool when touched. Bone dry clay is very brittle so handle with care!

Centering – the process used during throwing to create an even mound of clay that is perfectly in the center of the wheel. This is a two-part process: coning up and coning down.

Coil – a long, round piece of clay, like a worm or a snake.

Cookie – a flat disc made of clay that sits underneath a piece of pottery during glaze firing. Cookies protect the kiln shelves from drips of runny glaze.

Firing – the process of heating our pieces to either prepare them for glazing (bisque firing), or to melt the glaze and vitrify the clay (glaze firing).

Greenware – pottery that has not been fired. Includes wet, leather hard, and bone dry clay.

Kiln – the big oven where our pots are fired.

Leather hard – the state of clay where it has lost some of its moisture and retains its shape (more or less) when handled. Leather hard clay will feel cool to the touch.

Pinch pot – a pot/bowl that is formed by pinching a ball of clay between the thumb and forefingers.

Rib – a flat tool made of wood, metal, or rubber that can be used to smooth clay and shape pots. Ribs come in all shapes and sizes, but are often shaped like a kidney bean or the letter D.

Score – scratching a rough surface in the clay with a needle tool or serrated rib. Oftentimes when we need to attach two pieces of clay together, the best way to create a strong bond is by scoring the clay and adding slip.

Slab – a flat pad of clay.

Slip – very wet, goopy clay. Used as glue when attaching two scored pieces of clay together.

Trimming – the second step in the process of making pottery on the wheel. Involves trimming away excess clay to refine the shape and add a foot if desired. Trimming should be done when your pots are leather hard.

Wedging – the first step in preparing clay to throw. Wedging eliminates air pockets from the clay and blends wet and dry areas together to create a consistent piece of clay.