Master The Wheel
Students learn to make pottery using a potters wheel in and out of the classroom.
Language of Ceramics

Pottery Vocabulary


Absorption- The capacity of a material to soak up liquid.


Adsorption- The collecting or liquid on a surface by condensation.


Banding- A method of applying a glaze or slip decoration by holding a brush tip against a rotating pot.


Bat - A disk or slab of plaster or other material used for drying clay or supporting clay forms while being worked.


Bench Wheel - A portable turntable for rotating pottery being formed, decorated or otherwise worked.


Bisque - Clay which has been fired once, unglazed.


Blowout - The explosion of clay in the kiln caused by the sudden escape of steam resulting from rapid heating or the presence of impurities.


Bone Dry - The condition of unfired clay that has no absorbed moisture other than natural humidity.


Clay - A compound of decomposed and altered feldspathic rock consisting of various hydrated silicates of aluminum along with non-plastics, such as quartz, and organic.


Dry Foot - The bottom of a pot, which has been cleaned of all glaze before firing.


Fireclay - A clay used in clay bodies for its heat-resistant quality. Also used in the manufacture of kilns and other refractory equipment.


Foot - The base of a ceramic piece.

Greenware - Unfired clay objects.

Grog - Fired clay that has been crushed into granules which may be added to a clay body to increase strength, control drying and reduce shrinkage.


Kaolin - A white firing, highly refractory primary clay. Kaolin, meaning “high hill”, probably refers to Kaoling, the mountain in China where this white clay was first discovered.


Kneading - Working clay on a surface with the palms of the hands in order to remove air from it and obtain a uniform consistency.


Leather Hard - The condition of raw clay ware when most of the moisture has evaporated leaving it still soft enough to be carved or joined to other pieces.


Needle Tool - A large gage metal needle with a handle used for drawing, incising, and cutting clay.


Plasticity - The quality of clay that allows it to be easily manipulated and still maintain its shape.


Potters Wheel - A machine with multiple rotating componenets that is operated by applying force to create a spinning motion which enables clay to me manipulated.


Porcelain - A strong, vitreous, translucent, white clay body that matures at cone 12 or above.


Rib - A hand held tool made of hard material used to shape a pot when throwing.


Sedimentary Clay - Clay that has been transported from its original site by water, air or ice and deposited in layers elsewhere.


Shammy - A soft cloth used when wet to smooth pottery on a wheel.


Shrinkage - Contraction of the clay or glaze in either drying or firing.


Slip - A suspension of clay or glaze materials in water.


Slurry - A creamy mixture of clay and water.


Throw or Throwing - Using the potter’s wheel to make forms by hand from plastic clay.


Trimming - A method of paring away excess clay, usually from the bottom of pot to form a foot, while the clay is leather hard.


Wedge or Wedging - Mixing and de-airing clay by method of kneading or cutting it diagonally and slamming the pieces together.


Wheel Head - The turning disk or a potter’s wheel on which the clay is thrown or worked.


Wire Cutter - A string of metal wire with handles attached at each end. Used for cutting through llarge pricesof clay and for removing pottery from a potters wheel.