What is? BOTTLE OVEN

The Potteries Bottle Oven : a huge and imposing, towering and daunting brick-built, bottle-shaped structure, up to 70 feet high, essential in the making of pottery. The red-hot heart of The Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent.

In 1939 there were about 2000 bottle ovens, or, strictly speaking, bottle-shaped structures of various types used for firing pottery ware or its components. They dominated the landscape of The Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent. In 2015 there are 46 but none will be fired ever again. The Clean Air Act of 1956, and their delicate condition have put paid to that.

At the multi-award-winning Gladstone Pottery Museum, in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, there are 5 bottle ovens. There are also two bottle ovens, next door, at the Roslyn Works. This is the most important and precious group of buildings in The Potteries.

Take a look at The Potteries Bottle Oven website here>


What is? BONE CHINA

BONE CHINA A smooth textured and extremely white firing pottery body.  Translucent and very strong. It is unique in that it contains a high proportion of calcined bone ash and biscuit fires at approx 1220 C. A type of porcelain.

Around fifty percent of the body recipe contains calcined cattle bones. Invented at the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent around 1800. The recipe contains about 50% calcined cattle bone, 25% china clay and 25% china stone. The bone used at Spode was more specifically the shins and knuckle bones of oxen. (Lower grades of bone china, not from Spode, may have used all or some bones from sheep or goats.  But definitely not horses.)  The bones are calcined at temperatures up to 1000 C before being ground to a fine powder and used in the bone china recipe. Bone china is extremely hard and intensely white.


Bone China: a Particularly English Porcelain
The Invention of Bone China:  The Spode company, under Spode I and Spode II, is credited by potters, collectors, researchers and other experts with having perfected the bone china formula before 1800.

What is? BANJO

BANJO Kiln Furniture. A saggar with a particular shape. A bit like a banjo. Mainly for glost firing. Ideal for a double row of dottled muffins.

BANJO - you can see the shape of the banjo saggar
in this picture, bottom right

UPDATE - What is a MUFFIN?

Don't get confused!  An American Muffin is a small domed spongy cake made with eggs and baking powder. An English Muffin is leavened bread, beloved by the English aristocracy particularly in the early 20th Century and served in a Muffin Dish.

A Muffin Dish should not be confused with the Muffin which is a small pottery plate measuring 5 or 6 inches in diameter. So Banjos were for small pottery plates.


more here>

What is? CRAZING

CRAZE and CRAZING Glaze fault. A network of fine surface cracks in glaze. Occurs due to stresses created in the glaze by expansion of the body. Results from a mismatch of thermal expansions of the glaze and body. The craze pattern can develop upon removal from the kiln or even years later. Crazing happens when a glaze is under tension.

more here>

What is? BORDALOUE

BORDALOUE Ladies portable urinal. Sometimes known as a 'coach pot.' Absolutely not a gravy boat. Made in their thousands in The Staffordshire Potteries. Examples on display at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. @gladstonemuseum

Spode Bordaloue. Italian Pattern 1820
http://spodehistory.blogspot.co.uk/p/spode-and-italian.html

What is? PERFECTION

I love this quote

From the Collected Writings of Hermann, August Seger, 1872.

"There are few industrial districts which are as interesting as the pottery towns of Staffordshire, not only on account of their enormous size and the variety of manufacture, but in a still higher degree, owing to the general, world-renowned reputation enjoyed by the products manufactured here for along time for their artistic and technical perfection."

More here>

What is? FANCIES

FANCIES Small, cheap, pottery ornaments created in either bone china or earthenware. Pretty and at the same time pretty useless. Slightly decorative, usually ugly for some tastes.  Great for oven fill.



What is? OSS

Vital in the bottle oven. Theses are the wooden step ladders used by placers in the oven to reach the top of bungs of saggars. Varying sizes. Lots to be seen at Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent http://gladstonepotterymuseumstory.blogspot.co.uk/


What is? Maodup

Clogged - as in drain, if you pour slip down it!


WORDS OF THE WEEK - 13 July 2015 - ODD MAN

ODD MAN Occupation. Ovens Dept. More than a labourer. Could set his mind to virtually anything. But he worked particularly in the ovens department. One of his jobs would have been daubing clay on the clammins of an oven. Strange but true!

Odd Man checking the operation of the dampers on the crown of the oven
Last Bottle Oven Firing 1978    More here>

WORD OF THE WEEK - 6 July 2015 - THOB

THOB Potteries dialect word. Part of a bottle oven. The Hob. Just above the glut arch. "Put thee lobby on thob fur cape eat ot, duck."  But note that it is not where you would cook breakfast.  This was done directly on the fire, in the blazing mouth of the oven, using a British Standard No.8 shovel!

Pro

Am

WORDS OF THE WEEK - 29 June 2015 - RUBBER UP

RUBBER UP Occupation. Decorating department. Usually female.  Rubs the pattern from a printed tissue 'pull' onto the biscuit ware.  Q "What do you do for a living?"   A "Arm a rubber up, duck".


WORDS OF THE WEEK - 22 June 2015 - WORST SECONDS

WORST SECONDS Faulty pot. More faulty and worse than seconds, similar to thirds, but not quite as bad as lump which is actually pretty awful. Possibly.

Pinholes in the glaze.
Worse than seconds and almost probably, but
not quite, totally lump 

WORD OF THE WEEK - 15 June 2015 - PIG STICK

PIG STICK Equipment. Potting department. A clay hardness penetrometer.  Precision tool, calibrated annually, used to measure the stiffness/hardness of clay.  Some potters use a finger.


WORDS OF THE WEEK - 18 May 2015 - Gladstone Pottery Museum

GLADSTONE POTTERY MUSEUM.  The potters' museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. One of the top three English small visitor attractions in 2015.  40 years since the Royal Opening on 24 April 1975 and still winning awards. But now with an uncertain future as the local City Council decide how to reduce costs and find "alternative methods of delivery."

More information and have your say here>


WORD OF THE WEEK - 11 May 2015 - KILL

KILL :  Kiln. Oven. Bottle Oven. Enamel Kiln. Tunnel Kiln. Top Hat Kiln. Intermittent Kiln. Rapid Fire Kiln. And more ...

It's where the metamorphosis of clay, during firing, takes place. It's where the irreversible change from clay to pot, upon which the whole of the craft and industry, is founded. The change which takes place in the kill at around 600 Celsius. It's where clay loses its chemically-bound water molecules and can no longer be broken down by water. Once this change has occurred it cannot be reversed. Ever. This ceramic change converts fragile and crumbly dry clay from Mother Earth into hard brittle pottery. This is both a chemical and physical change to the structure of the clay. Magic by fire!




WORD OF THE WEEK - 1 May 2015 - FINISHING FIREMAN

FINISHING FIREMAN Occupation. Some big potbanks would employ three men to fire a bottle oven. The Fireman - he was in charge and responsible for the whole firing cycle.  The Sitter Up - he took over responsibility during the night hours. And The Finishing Fireman - he saw to it that there were no problems once the peak temperature had been reached and the correct soak time had been concluded.  He would ensure the fires burnt out completely OK.

Last Bottle Oven Firing 1978
Organised by Gladstone Pottery Museum
Clammins down!

WORD OF THE WEEK - 13 April 2015 - LAVATORY

Now this is messy, complicated and a tad confusing, so bear with me!

In the good old days, in the UK sanitaryware industry, sanitary pottery casters and warehouse packers, called a WASHBASIN a TABLE. But why?

Well, in the late 1800s when large WASHBASINS were designed to stand on legs rather than a single column pedestal (as is common in the UK today, 2015) the washbasin actually looked like a TABLE.



Simples. But actually, the correct word, in those days, for a WASHBASIN or TABLE was LAVATORY.

The word LAVATORY is derived from the Latin word LAVARE, meaning 'to wash.'

Nowadays, a TOILET is often mistakenly called a LAVATORY since this is regarded as polite. But technically, it is incorrect.

Of course, while it would be correct to wash your hands in a LAVATORY or WASHBASIN or SINK (see below) it would be odd to wash your hands in a TOILET, or worse still, to do something 'exceptional' in a LAVATORY,  WASHBASIN or SINK, don't you think?



And then there is the case of a SINK.  This is not a WASHBASIN or a LAVATORY (or for that matter a TOILET) but a sink is designed for 'robust' use, perhaps in a kitchen. And it doubles up as a LAVATORY or WASHBASIN when you need to wash your hands, which is the end part (the  grasping organ)  of a person's arm beyond the wrist, including the palm, fingers, and thumb.



At Twyfords a standard sized SINK was called a JOMUK. And sink designs do vary.  More here>

Told you it was messy, complicated and a tad confusing!



WORD OF THE WEEK - 30 March 2015 - GRAFTER

GRAFTER Equipment. Ovens Dept. Saggar making.  A flat D-shaped tool, a bit like a flat spade, and called a grafter was used to slice a flat piece of saggar marl from the dump (large lump of saggar marl clay) before use. See the movie, MAU'ING THE SAGGAR a film by Gerald Mee 1981, for the full story here>


WORDS OF THE WEEK - 23 March 2015 - WICKET AND CLAMMINS

WICKET vs CLAMMINS : The 'wicket' is the open entrance into a bottle oven. 'Clammins' is the brickwork built to seal the wicket before firing.


WORDS OF THE WEEK -16 March 2015 - SORTING and SELECTING

SORTING vs SELECTING : Words not to be confused. Sorting is a process in the glost warehouse involving the removal of fired-on pips, stilt marks or kiln bits. Sorters use a special tool, made from steel about 1/8 inch thick, 1 inch broad, and from 10 to 12 inches long, and sharpened at each end, to knock the pip or stilt marks off the back of flatware (plates, soup plates and saucers) after it has been fired. Same as ginneting.


Selecting, however, is the inspection of flatware or holloware after a processing stage (biscuit, or glost, or enamel firing) to look for faults.

WORD OF THE WEEK - 9 March 2015 - HEATING UP DUNT

HEATING UP DUNT Pottery fault. Sometimes known as an IN-DUNT. A body crack created during the heating cycle of the firing process. Characterised by smooth and rounded edges to the crack because the glaze flows into it and matures after the crack took place. cf out dunt

New definition just added ...

STRAW WRAPPED Process. Warehouse and despatch. Applicable to very large pieces of pottery, for instance sanitaryware. Sanitary earthenware, when shipped in bulk (two-ton lots or more) in the 1920s and 30s was often sent wrapped in straw, without wooden cases or other protection. This style of packing, known as “Straw Wrapped," consisted of enveloping the article in straw secured in position by cord. The main advantage of Straw Wrapping was that the cost was only about half that of wooden cases or crates, and where freight was paid on a measurement/volume basis there was also a substantial saving in cost of transport.


WORD OF THE WEEK - 2 March 2015 - GREEN

GREEN  - pronounced in The Potteries as GRANE. Pottery is green when it is still in the clay state but dry and quite hard, but not soft and 'plastic.' Green product is stored in the GREY NICE (Potteries dialect for greenhouse) before firing.

Green (grane) WCs which have been cast and dried.
Being stored in the Gray Nice before inspection
and then spraying with glaze, before firing

A Little Bit of History

The Potbank Dictionary has grown from humble beginnings. I launched it in January 1976 as a regular column in The Friends of Gladstone Broadsheet and my first word was ARK. What a great word to launch it! more>

New Words added!

SORTER not to be confused with SELECTOR, but they often are.  Occupation. Warehouse, glost. Woman (not usually a man, except their boss) employed to chip off the tiny bits of glaze which were stuck to the places where the piece had been supported on kiln furniture, in the kiln. Uses a specially made sorting tool. Go to S here> and page down for more.

DABBER  Equipment. Transfer printing. Decorating Department. Tool used by the transfer printer to force the warmed ceramic colour (the consistency of Marmite!) into the engraved surface of the flat, engraved copper plate. Go to D here> for more.

WORDS OF THE WEEK - 23rd Feb 2015 - POTTERY or CHINA?

POTTERY or CHINA Is it pottery or is it china?  In The Staffordshire Potteries the word CHINA is the name given to a particular and specific POTTERY recipe. For instance it may be fine china, vitreous china, stone china, or bone china. But in the United States the word CHINA is often used to describe all types POTTERY. In The Potteries the word pottery is used like the word china is used in the USA. And then there is PORCELAIN which is another description to get your mind around! It can be confusing. More help about recipes here>

Definitely pottery and definitely not china, but it could be!


WORDS OF THE WEEK - 15 Feb 2015 - JOLLEY & JIGGER

JOLLEY and JIGGER  Jolley = making holloware. Jigger = making flatware.  Look for the OLL in jOLLey and hOLLow and you'll remember it!


WORD OF THE WEEK - 9 Feb 2015 - POTTER'S NOD

POTTER'S NOD A peculiar affliction which potters acquire when jiggering oval dishes or platters. See for yourself on this clip from a 1935 silent film. Please don't giggle.  This is serious!


WORD OF THE WEEK - 2 Feb 2015 - FUSSER

FUSSER Occupation. Potting department. Man or woman who works with and alongside a cup jolleyer. The fusser removes dried cups from the mould, inspects them and places them on a ware board prior to being carried away into the greenhouse.

WORD OF THE WEEK - 26 Jan 2015 - CHONG


Many thanks go to @pottrays for the idea!

WORD OF THE WEEK - 12 Jan 2015 - SCOURING

SCOURING Process. Biscuit warehouse. After pottery has been biscuit fired it is scoured (brushed) to remove loose sand, alumina, or pulverised flint particles. It is a brushing/cleaning process for biscuit ware before glazing. Scouring was a particularly dangerous occupation in the Potbank. People interviewed in 1856 for the inquiry undertaken by the General Board of Health reported that "the bad arrangements of the workshops (are a) frequent cause of bronchitis. The worst cases of this disease were found among young women employed in scouring china, who did not live many years after entering that employment."  More here>>

Early scouring machines introduced in an attempt
to reduce the health hazard


WORD OF THE WEEK - 1 Jan 2015 - BAG

BAG No, not a container for taking home the goodies from the January Sales! But, part of a bottle oven. A small firebrick chimney found directly above the firemouth on the inside of a potter's biscuit of glost bottle oven. Separates the combustion space from the stacked ware space. Prevents hots spots among the pots nearest the fire. The photo shows three bags.  In a 'usual' large bottle oven there would be eight bags.