B

BABBIE Potteries dialect wordBaby. Youth. Or an insult for an adult who is a mard arse!

BACKEND Potteries dialect word. Autumn. After the clocks go back.

BACKS The alleyways joining the small gardens in a row of terraces. Often cobbled.  Sometimes called 'the backs' or 'the entry.'

BACKSLAB Technical term used in sanitaryware production. The slab of fired and masoned (chiselled and cut) fired fireclay which forms the "business end" of a gentleman's urinal. About two feet wide - can be more, can be less. Glazed in white and sometimes with a backstamp. It is against the backslab that the gentleman pees. In some installations (which are always made to measure) each backslab is separated, for privacy, by a division.

BACKSTAMP The maker's mark, name or trade mark which identifies their work. Usually found on the underside of ware. In the early days some potters never thought of backstamping their wares but others copied marks of their more successful competitors. Backstamps may be printed or impressed and since designs of backstamps were, and are, regularly changed we are helped in the dating of their wares today. Sometimes pattern name and designer also appear.

Backstamp - found on the rear of the pot

Backstamp on Swedish Pottery by GEFLE shows excellent image of bottle ovens
Photo: courtesy Claire Blakey

Backstamps can be painted. At the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent they were usually in red but also in black and in gold. Also they appeared, sometimes, with no company name but just a number in the photo below - Spode's pattern 488  - no it is not 887!

Handpainted Spode Backstamps

Madeleine Buckley writes in Novemeber 2016 "My Mum had a special mark she put under the horses she made, and my Gran had one too, these 'marks' helped them count the number of pieces they'd made at the end of the week so they get paid for their own work! The marks would be indented into the wet clay. Pinters had their own marks too - but I am going back a few years, up to about 1966 ish. Barbara Hyland writes Any items I painted when I worked at Adderley Floral, Longton, was always marked with BB usually in black or purple. Every painter, lithographer and gilder had their own mark.


BACKSTAN See backstone.

BACK-STERN See backstone.

BACKSTONE Flat iron disc which is rests on a hot plate, heated by a coal fire, steam pipes or electric. Holds printers colour and keeps it warm and supple ready for use in printing from copper plates. Copper plates are also kept hot.

BACKSTUN See backstone.

BAD Poorly.  As in "am poorly bad and conna come t'werk"

BAD IN BED AND WOSS UP  Dialect. Actually a quite common phrase used when you're poorly, have a hangover following a great night out or just plain miserable. Perhaps you enjoyed just a little toooo much at the New Year's Eve celebrations and perhaps it would be better for you to stay in bed a little longer. After all, you would feel worse if you got up!  Happy New Year!

BADGING Process. Application, by transfer print or slide litho, of a decorative badge or the company brand logo (the backstamp) to a pot.

BADGED WARE  Specially commissioned designs on pottery. Also known as armorial ware these could include a full coat of arms of a Royal family, or a simple printed design for a commercial company such as Coleman's Mustard. Note that this term may be specific to the Spode factory - there are over 20 badge books in the Spode Archive.  For an example of badged ware click here>

BADGER Occupation. The person who applies the company brand logo or mark to a pot. Also, sometimes, the person who applies the specially commissioned badge to the ware (see above)

BAG Part of a bottle oven. A small firebrick chimney found directly above the firemouth on the inside of a potter's biscuit or glost bottle oven. Separates the combustion space from the stacked ware space. Prevents hots spots among the pots nearest the fire. The photo below shows three bags.  In a 'usual' large bottle oven there would be eight bags, situated above the eight firemouths.

Three bags and the pipe bung in one of the ovens at
Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, England.  September 2013

BAITING Process during firing. Periodic stoking of the oven. Putting coal onto the fire in each of the mouths of an oven during firing. A careful operation. Follows lumping (the first bait in the feeble fires at the start of the firing cycle) and was carried out regularly and equally at each mouth to ensure even firing in the four quarters of the oven. Up to one and a half hundredweight of coal could be use at one baiting at one mouth. A sitter up and the fireman would use up to 20 tons of coal during the firing of a large bottle oven.

Preparing the fuel bed in the firemouth at the Last Bottle Oven Firing, Gladstone Pottery Museum 1978
The Last Bottle Oven Firing, Gladstone Pottery Museum 1978.
The Author with a No.8 British Standard Shovel
Wife and sister in the Background

Baiting at the Last Bottle Oven Firing. 1978
Fred Greasley and Alfred Clough

BAITING PLATE The bottom ledge of the cast iron frame which surrounds a bottle oven mouth and against which the firedoors can be slammed tight.

BAITING POKER Equipment. Used during firing. A tool of the fireman's trade. About six feet long and 1 inch diameter steel or iron rod. Used to keep the firebed under control during firing. Also used as a device to detect condensation in the oven during baiting.


Baiting Poker

BALL CLAY Component of pottery body recipe. A highly plastic clay essential to the production of some types of pottery. In the UK it is found in Devon and Dorset and its name refers to the traditional way in which huge balls of clay, 35lbs ( 16 kgs ) in weight were carried by pack horse. Ball clays are dug from open-cast pits or deep mined. Ball clays are secondary clays or 'sedimentary.' That is clays which have been transported away from their point of geologic origin by water.  The finer particle-size of ball clays gives greater plasticity than for stoneware clays, or fireclays. Before firing they are very dark in colour due to the high content of carbonaceous matter present. This burns away during firing leaving a white or buff coloured body.

BALL MILL Equipment. Machine. Used in the slip house. Used for the very fine grinding of ceramic material. Large revolving cylinder (12 feet diameter and 15 feet long) made from riveted sheets of steel. Revolves around its horizontal axis. Containing grinding media (manufactured ceramic balls or flint pebbles) and used to grind batches of ceramic material such as silica sand. Sometimes known as a pebble mill.

BALLER Occupation. Potting shop. Thrower's assistant. Usually female (sometimes the thrower's wife) Supplies the thrower with balls of wedged and weighed clay at a certain weight for the thrower to manipulate into a pot on the throwing wheel. Then removes the thrown ware from the wheel to a ware board.

In a potbank the baller prepares a ball of clay for thrower to make a pot at his wheel
The baller prepares another ball of clay for the thrower at the wheel
The ball of clay, of  known weight, is used by the thrower to make a pot.

BALLING UP Process. Cutting pieces of clay from a pug roll or a block of wedged clay, weighing the cut lump and adjusting the quantity of clay to create consistency, then rolling the lump in his or her hands to create a ball of clay for use by the thrower. Sometimes the ball of clay was placed in the bottom of a plaster mould for hollowware (a teacup for instance) the using a jolley the ball was 'run up' the sides of the mould to produce the piece.

BAL MAIDENS This is not a term used in the Staffordshire Potteries but it is worth mentioning here. The term originates in the mining industry of Cornwall. Its is the generic term for a female surface mine worker applied to any Cornish mine The expression really came into use the copper boom which started at the end of the seventeenth century. Later, the term was used on the 'dressing floors of tin mines' and in the clay pits.

BAMBOO WARE A bamboo-like type of cane ware somewhat dark in colour, first made by Josiah Wedgwood in 1770.

BAND Decoration. A relatively broad coloured or gold line applied to circular pottery pieces, by hand or by machine, to create a decorative effect. cf line

BANDER Occupation. Decorating department. Usually female. Uses a broad pencil (potter's name for a brush) to apply a band of colour the edge of a pot to create decoration.

BANDING Process. Application of a band or ring of colour to the edge of a piece of pottery to form part of its decoration. Banding should not be confused with lining which is the application of a single line of colour, or with gilding which is lining in gold.  Banding is usually applied by brush, or pencil on a wheel or whirler, which is spun by the left hand of the worker, the brush or pencil remaining stationary whilst the piece of pottery which is being treated is rotated on the wheel.

BANDING MACHINE OPERATIVE Occupation. Decorating department. Person who operates a machine that is preset to apply a line or band of ceramic colour to an item in a linear fashion. The decorated pieces then go for hardening on or firing to fire the colour band to the piece.

BANDING WHEEL Equipment. Decorating department. Turntable for applying decorative colour bands to holloware or flatware. The revolving head sits on a pedestal base and is turned by hand. Used for finishing or decorating pottery.

BANNERING Process. Ovens department. A job for the saggar maker. Involved the use of a small metal or wooden tool to true up the rim of an unfired saggar to ensure that it lay in one true horizontal plane. Bungs of saggars in a bottle oven can reach up to 20 feet in height and should stack as close to the vertical as possible. It was therefore an important job to ensure that the rims and bottoms of freshly made saggars were perfectly flat.

Bannering in the saggar making shop
11th Sept 1900


BANNER OFF  'Go away!'

BANJO Kiln Furniture. A saggar. Particular shape. Mainly for glost firing. Ideal for a double row of dottled muffins.

BANK OF MOULDS A grouping of moulds. Mould store.


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BASALT WARE Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Black and vitreous. Stoneware. Contains iron oxide and manganese dioxide. Unglazed. Originated by Josiah Wedgwood.

BASIN SAGGAR Kiln furniture. A saggar. Particular shape used for small holloware.

BAS RELIEF A method of decoration which is part of the modelling of the pottery itself, and comes from the mould. The pattern appears in the form of an embossment. It is frequently referred to as “relief-modelling. ”

BASS Poor coal.  Not good for using to fire an potters oven.

BASS Remarkably tasty beer!

BAT Almost anything flat on a potbank!

BAT Equipment. Kiln furniture. A saggar marl or refractory flat clay shelf on which pottery ware is placed during firing.

BAT Equipment. A plaster bat is used to support pottery in its clay state, as it dries.

BAT Equipment. A steel bat is used to support decorated glost ware in the enamel kiln during firing. The steel tended to warp and distort under the intense heat of around 750C.

BAT Roughly shaped disc of pottery body - a clay disc ready for jiggering.

BAT Flat sheet of animal glue or gelatine used in bat printing.

BATH BRACES A means of transporting huge and very heavy Fireclay pottery baths.



BATING Another spelling found in the literature for BAITING (stoking the oven during firing).

BAT PRINT and BAT PRINTING Type of decoration. Developed by W. Baddeley in 1777 as a method of decorating pottery. Produces a delicate print onglaze. Cold printing - no heat being required. It involved the use of a flexible pad of animal-hide glue, or gelatine, to transfer oil from the design on an engraved copper plate to the glazed pottery to be decorated. The oil which had been transferred to the ware was then dusted with fine ground enamel colour. Bat printing gave finer results than the normal line engraving technique of transfer printed decorations. However it had a disadvantage - the glue bat tended to distort during use causing the finished pattern to become distorted and sometimes unsightly.

BAT WASH Coating of refractory material applied in slurry form to kiln furniture or saggars to stop ware sticking to it during firing. It is regarded as good practice to use a batt wash coating on the upper surface of shelves only. No other kiln furniture needs to be treated. Over a period of time, some ‘plucking’ or flaking of the batt wash may occur and this can be retouched without the need to completely recoat the shelves.


Church batter


BATTER The description of the slope given to the shape of the brickwork of the hovel of a bottle oven. Batters can be stepped or flat. Church batter is curved and real bottle shaped. Straight batter is truly conical.

BATTER HEAD A pottery placer. All placers have their birthday on Shrove Tuesday.

BATTER RULE Equipment. Used by a bottle oven builder as a measuring device. Used to give the required slope on the hovel. Sort of a protractor. (Mountford, kiln builder)

BATTERY CASTING Process. Sanitaryware. A system of mechanised handling, tilting and automatic filling of the heavy plaster moulds used to slip-cast sanitaryware. Several moulds are grouped together in a 'battery' and handled as one unit. The system was invented by Shanks Ltd. of Glasgow, and developed by the Armitage-Shanks Group. Now common worldwide.

BATTING OUT Creating a bat (disk of clay body) ready for use on the jigger.

Child labour - batting out

BAY CHUM SPIDERS Dialect. Needed to cure a headache. Sometime after a night out but more commonly as help towards curing flu. Even man flu. "Bay chum spider fur codes"




BAYCH Dialect. Where potters go for their holidays to soak up the sun. See say.

BEAD Particular type of decoration to the edge of flatware.

BEANS Lumps of coal of a particular dimension.

BEAR Dialect - part of the phrase "conna bear him".  Don't like him (dunna lark im)

BECK Peak of a cap.

BECK SIDE Posh bottom.

BEATING BOARD Equipment. Board for wedging on to.

BEDDER Occupation. Ovens department. Placer who beds flatware in a bed of ground silica sand for earthenware, calcined and ground flint or alumina powder for china.

BEDDER Equipment. Ovens department. A small tool used by the bedder during bedding. The tool has the shape of the backside of the flatware to be placed. He used the bedder to indent the bedding material so that the flatware nests neatly and accurately into it. During firing the bedding material supports the flatware to prevent it from warping and becoming crooked.

BEDDING Process. Ovens department. Placing pottery flatware on a bed of ground silica sand for earthenware, calcined and ground flint or alumina powder for bone china. Gives support to the ware during firing to reduce warping and crookedness.

BEET Dialect. See baiting.

BELFAST SINK Sanitaryware for domestic or commercial use. Deep, oblong sink, and thick-sided, made from traditional fireclay, covered in white engobe, glazed and fired. From around the year 2000 sinks were made in fine fireclay. At Twyford's fireclay factory in Stoke-on-Trent a standard sized Belfast sink measuring 24 x18 x10 inches was known as a jomuk.

Belfast Sink 1934 - notice the overflow
A London sink is a similar shape but without an overflow
An Edinburgh sink is a different product completely!

BELLARMINE 
A fat, salt-glazed bottle or jug, usually decorated with a bearded face on the narrow neck.

BELLEEK WARE A distinctive type of pottery made at Belleek, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The factory was established in 1857 and the ware is characterized by its thinness and slightly iridescent surface; the body contains a significant proportion of frit.

BELLY WOBBLING Process. Potting department. Clay end. Nudging a recently filled mould to remove air bubbles from the mould surface. With the your belly. Beer drinkers are good at this.

BELT KILN Equipment. Type of kiln. Tunnel kiln for glost or enamel (decoration) fire. The ware is carried through the tunnel and its firing chamber on a heat resistant mesh belt.

BELTER Good one. Nice one. Super one. Bass is a belter of  a beer! Titanic Ales, brewed in Burslem (Boslem) , Stoke-on-Trent, is rather good too. Good beers create good belly wobblers - see above.

BENCH Equipment. Something to work on! Something to have your dinner on.

BENTONITE Component of pottery body recipe. Very plastic natural clay laid down after the weathering of volcanic ash. Sodium Bentonite swells greatly in water. Found mainly in the USA. Added to glaze to stop sedimentation or to clay body to add plasticity. Remarkable bonding properties.

BERYL WARE Particular brand of pottery manufactured by Woods.  Popular at the time but not my cup of tea.

Woods.  Beryl Ware. 1940s 

BEST A grade or standard of potteryFirst quality pottery. Good ware. But there is no such thing as a perfect pot since since this is the very nature of pottery. Other grades:


  • BEST SECOND - Not bad enough to be a SECOND and not good enough to be BEST
  • SECONDS - Imperfect pottery. Not BEST and not THIRDS or LUMP ! Slightly blemished or faulty and sold at a slight discount.
  • WORST SECONDS - Sometimes called WORSER SECONDS - Slightly more imperfect than SECONDS. Then there was a DEGREE WORSER which was worse that WORST SECONDS. Or even WORSER WORSER. But not THIRDS, just yet.
  • THIRDS - This signifies that the ware is well below the usual BEST standard, and not even good enough to fall within the description of SECONDS. But better than LUMP. The ware is still marketable however and was sold off to hawkers or market stall holders for sale on the 'stones'. Badly twisted ware, crooked holloware, nipped ware and whirler plates fall into this category.
  • LUMP - Massively faulty pottery. So bad that it is worse than SECONDS. Or evenTHIRDS. This is the lowest quality of ware that leaves any potbank, and usually it is ware that has just managed to escape being deliberately smashed. Whilst there may be possibilities in some china shops of disposing of SECONDS, or even THIRDS the risk of dealing in LUMP is "too great to be incurred lightheartedly." High-grade manufacturing firms see to it that LUMP is sent to the shraff tip, in spite of the fact that enquiries were freely received from the poorer districts or export for mixed grades of lump. And usually about 100 years later it re-appears on TV shows as 'rare and valuable.'  Irony!


BEST GOLD Material used during the process. Type of decoration. Sometimes known as burnish gold. Applied by pencil ( potters name for a brush) or litho as a suspension of gold dust in oils, mercury salt, and flux (bismuth). After firing the gold decoration looks dull and lifeless but it is made brilliant and bright by burnishing with a blood stone, agate or steel. Also burnished with very fine silica sand.

BILL JO NICE Dialect. Housing self build.


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BINDER Component of pottery body or glaze recipe. The additive is designed to strengthen the body or glaze during the dry stage or to make it more durable to withstand handling during processing.

BISCUIT Biscuit ware is pottery which has been fired once, but is not yet glazed. Biscuit ware feels dry and coarse, just like the baked crisp unlevened bread of the same name.  Biscuit is the fired clay piece with sufficient strength to allow it to be stored, glazed or decorated and fired again.  Jasper and Parian wares are left purposely in their 'biscuit' state, unglazed, but they are of a particular ceramic recipe called stoneware which is particularly strong and non-porous. Earthenware biscuit is porous. Biscuit firing temperature? Earthenware around 1100°C to 1150°C, Bone China around 1200°C to 1250°C.

BISCUIT FIRING The first firing of the body in a multiple firing process, and before decorating of glazing.

BISCUIT BEDDER Occupation. Ovens department. A placer who beds (places) individual clay pieces into saggars before they are placed (or set in) the oven for firing. A bedder will be skilled and Bone China placing.

BISCUIT WAREHOUSE in the ovens department.  The warehouse in which biscuit ware is sorted, selected and stored then passed on for glazing or decorating.

BISCUIT PLACER - CHINAWARE Occupation. Ovens department. A different skill is required for placing ( bedding) Bone China flatware than Earthen ware flatware. the two bodies react differently (they shrink and distort differently under high temperature) in the oven during firing so bone china flatware is individually bedded in alumina powder to prevent warping. This is not required in earthenware placing.

BISCUIT PLACER - EARTHENWARE Occupation. Ovens department. A very different skill from that used by a china placer. See directly above.

BISQUE Clay piece when it has been fired once to give it sufficient strength to be glazed or decorated. Also called biscuit. Biscuit is the more usual term used in a Staffordshire Potbank.

BIT CLAY A particular pottery body recipe. "Common moca body or dirty clay from the common bank"  Possibly used in a similar way to bitstone, see below.

Pages from a recipe book of the 1820s
Peg or stilt clay, wad clay and bit clay


BITS Material. Pre-cast clay pieces used during bitting in. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood 1980s.

BITS Clay left-overs which have been fettled from cast pieces or left over from casting or turning. Sometimes known as 'casting slip scraps' and they were returned to the casting slip blunger for recycling. Casting slip was a different consistency to slip in general, as it contained sodium silicate.

BITSTONE Material. Ovens department. Saggar making. A foundation of rough crushed calcined flint chips spread in the bottom of glost saggars to allow the placing of holloware directly on the saggar base without the need for stilts or spurs or saddles.

BITTINESS Glaze fault. Small imperfections in the glaze surface makes the glaze look and feel slightly rough to the touch. Sometimes caused by poor sieving of the glaze.

BIT BOX  See bitting box below. 

BITTING BOX Equipment. (May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood 1980s.) Bits of clay left-overs which have been fettled from cast pieces or left over from casting or turning were thrown into the bitting box before being returned to the sliphouse for reuse by blunging with a new batch of slip.

BITTING EDGE  Sometimes known as the scrapping edge. The edge of a plate mould, shaped for the easy removal of the dried left over scraps of clay remaining on the edge of jiggered flatware.

Bitting edge of a plate mould.


BITTING EDGE DEPARTMENT  Clay end. Flatware making. May be peculiar to the Spode factory, Stoke. In the plate making department. Plates, both round or shaped. Where the remaining clay from the jiggering process is removed from the edge of the piece when the mould is removed. (Many thanks to Catharine Sheppard, on Facebook, for help with this one. April 2016)


From: 1954 Spode Saga, page 14


BITTING EDGE TOOL  Equipment used in the Bitting Edge Department in the clay end.  Used in the removal of excess clay from the edge of the of freshly made and dried plates on moulds, by jiggering. (Many thanks to Catharine Sheppard, on Facebook, for help with this one. April 2016)

BITTING IN Process. Casting. Filling in the dimple or hole created by the cast-on handle on the inside of a hollow cast pot. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood 1980s.

BITTY Faulty ware found during glost selection. Can be due to clay "bits" in the fired glaze or on the surface of the ware, under the glaze. When in the glaze, it's usually when the ware is not biscuit fired prior to glazing. The raw clay sometimes breaks in the dipping tub and is deposited on other ware when carried by the glaze. (This Potbank Dictionary definition was supplied courtesy of Marcus Auralius on Facebook, 5 March 2016. Thank you!) Also see bittiness above.

BLAB Dialect. Meaning to blurt it out.

BLACK BASALT Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Black and vitreous stoneware. Contains iron oxide and manganese dioxide to create the colour.. A type of ceramic artware introduced in 1776/1768 by Josiah Wedgwood. The body is black and vitreous, iron oxide and manganese dioxide being added to achieve this. Composition is 47% ball clay, 3% china clay, 40% ironstone and 10% MnO.


Black basalt bust of Shakespeare.
Wedgwood. 1970 


BLACK POTTERY  Not Black Basalt and not common on a potbank.  Traditional craft pottery where the pots are turned black by cutting out the oxygen at the end of the firing. In an open firing this is done by smothering the fire with fine dung, or damp grass and then possibly pieces of metal sheeting. Sometimes the pots are taken out of the fire or kiln and plunged into grass, sawdust or dung. Black pottery is to be found in many places in Africa, among Pueblo potters of the USA, in Mexico, Colombia, Denmark and Central Europe.

BLACK PRINTING Decoration.  Decorating of the late 18th Century. For example used by Wedgwood on creamware.

BLACK SPECK  Fault. A fault on pottery generally caused by small particles of iron or its compounds.

BLART Dialect. Summat wrong if the kid is crying so much. A mard arse will blart a lot.

BLEB Body fault. A raised blister on the surface of faulty pottery. Also found on saggars. An air bubble in the body. A pimple. A blob.

BLEND and BLENDING Process. Mixing or agitating the ingredients of a pottery recipe to form a slip. Name also used for mixing plaster powder in water. Usually carried out in a mixing vessel, vat or blunger.

BLIB or BLIBBED Body fault. An air bubble in the body of a new saggar. May be attributed to poor saggar clay but also a sure sign that the bottle oven has been started off to quickly and over baited at the beginning.

BLIP Body fault. An air bubble in the body. May be created as casting slip is being poured into a plaster mould.

BLISTER Pottery body fault or glaze fault. An air bubble in the body. Sometimes created in the glaze due to over glazing or severe over-firing which can cause the glaze to boil and create bubbles, some of which burst to form a crater. The surface of the glaze is very unpleasant and looks like a boiled mass of bubbles, craters and pinholes.

Blisters - a glaze fault
Blisters - a glaze fault


BLOAT Pottery body fault. A very big blister or bulge. An air bubble in the body caused by gas bubbles forming and getting trapped under the surface of the piece by the vitrifying clay during firing.

BLOCK or BLOCK MOULD 

The negative (or the female) mould made from the original positive model. Also called the master mould.

Positive = MODEL
Negative = BLOCK - The Master Mould, formed from the model
Positive = CASE - similar to the original model but formed from the BLOCK
Negative = WORKING MOULD formed from the case
The positive = CAST PIECE



BLOCK HANDLE Particular design of handle on a piece. Attached to the side of the piece across its whole length. Compare this with an open handle which is attached to the piece at the top and bottlom of the handle, only.

BLOODSTONE Form of chalcedony (which is a cryptocrystalline mixture of quartz and its monoclinic polymorph moganite). The 'classic' bloodstone is green chalcedony with red inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. Used in the pottery industry as a burnishing tool for burnishing edges and lines and handles to make the gold line shine brilliantly.

BLOWER Sliphouse problem. Leak in the filter press. Under pressure, clay slip will squirt from the leak. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood, Tunstall.

BLOWN alternative name to AEROGRAPHING Process. Spraying coloured enamel or glaze onto a pot using a spray gun with compressed air. Large surfaces of colour, either solid or shaded, can readily be applied by this means. Spraying is a cheaper method of applying colour than by ground laying.

BLUE PRINT Type of decoration. Usually underglaze. Usually referred to as transferware in the US. Transferware Collectors Club here>

Blue print - Willow pattern

BLUNGE To mix materials with water thoroughly to produce an homogeneous mix.

BLUNGER Equipment. Machine. Mixing tanks for the preparation of the pottery body. Contains slip. Usually hexagonal in shape to assist the mixing of the ingredients. Consists internally of a central shaft with attached paddles which rotate at speed to mix and blend the slip.

Two blungers in a sliphouse

BLUNGING Process. Mixing the constituents of the body recipe with water by vigorous rotating action in a blunger. Creating a clay slip of consistent quality throughout is essential to the manufacture of a good pot. Proper blunging and aging is essential to obtain a consistent casting slip.

BLUNGED UP Mixed up. Mixed together. Presumably in a blunger.

BLUSHING Glaze fault. Pink discolouration occurring during glost fire. Caused by traces of chrome in the kiln atmosphere.

BOARD Equipment. Wareboard. Used in most departments of a potbank. About 6 feet long, 9 inches wide and 1 inch deep. Made of good quality pine. Simply a board or plank with rounded corners to carry ware about the potbank. Carried on one shoulder and supported with one hand, requiring some balancing skills and a lot of confidence.

BOARD WASHER Equipment. Machine designed to wash ware boards. Consisting of two rotating brushes in the centre of the machine which pulls in each dirty ware board, sprays it with water and passes it through the brushes to clean off dirt. Dirt is an enemy in a potbank.

Gladstone Pottery Museum - Board Washer sign

Gladstone Pottery Museum - Board Washer machine


BOB ON Dialect. A good one.

BOBBER Equipment. Pyrometric device. Early Bullers Ring?

BOBBS Three lumps of clay? Used early 17thC ?

BOCO Dialect. Head.  "bonk him on the boco".  Meaning hit him on the head.

BODY

  • BODY The material from which the pottery piece is made.
  • BODY The clay part of the pot.  Excluding other parts such as glaze or decoration.
  • BODY A blend of raw materials, according to a pottery recipe, in plastic or slip form.


BODY STAIN Ceramic pigment used to colour the body. Firing will mature the pigment.

BOG Not just Potteries slang but a common UK slang word for toilet or WC. Not commonly used in the USA.

BOG STANDARD  Completely ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unadulterated, unmodified. Originally from "British Or German standard", from a time when engineers wanting a certain quality would make such a specification.

BOKE Dialect. Slang. When you see something that annoys or irritates you.  'Eats boking may!' To balk or hinder you.

BOMB Equipment on a Murray Curvex machine. Large, almost hemispherical pad of silicone rubber or, originally gelatine,  which transfers colour from an engraved copper plate to the pot in the MURRAY-CURVEX printing process.

BONE or BONE ASH Component of pottery body recipe. Calcined animal bone, usually cattle bones, preferably Ox shin bones. White creamy powder. Essential ingredient of English Bone China. About 50% of the bone china body recipe consists of this calcined animal bone, The remaining 50% being largely made up of china clay and Cornish stone. It is the bone which gives bone china its brilliant whiteness and translucency. Bone ash consists mainly of calcium phosphate and bone china acts as a flux, improving whiteness and imparting translucency.

BONE CHINA 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. First or biscuit firing at 1200°C to 1300°C. Second or glost firing 1050°C to 1100°C.

Bone would originally have been sourced locally, Hanley Meat Market was suggested as a source. But when anthrax became a concern bone was sourced from overseas with the deglutinisation being carried out there and the risk thus being removed. Latterly bone came in from Southern Ireland, Argentina, Holland, Sweden, Pakistan, India, Egypt and China.


Spode bone china dessert plate from a set featuring botanical studies
This is ‘Strip’d Rose’   c1810


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. More here>



Movie: How Bone China slip is blunged (mixed) by Valentine Clays


BONE CHINA RECIPE :  Spode 
Body No.6 1820s
  • 160 parts Blue Clay
  • 240 parts Cornwall Clay
  • 360 parts Cornwall Stone
  • 160 parts Flint
  • 400 parts Bone
Total 920 parts - therefore Bone comprises 43% of this particular body recipe


BONE MILL A bone mill's purpose was to grind calcined cattle bone for use in the pottery recipe. Ground, burnt bone is added to Cornish stone and china clay at the pottery factory to make bone china.

Movie: Etruria Bone Mill, Stoke-on-Trent


BONFIRE FIRING Most basic firing process where pots are fired in an open bonfire. Very hit and miss and the potter doesn't know what to expect when the fires die down. Not found on a potbank.

BONK Dialect. Steep (stape) hill.


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BONT Essential part of the construction of bottle oven. Iron hoops used to brace and support the brickwork of a bottle oven. The wrought iron straps which encircle the potter's bottle oven. Tightened on to the walls of the oven to the brickwork greater strength and resistance to warping during firing.Usually bonts are three eighths of an inch thick and from 3 to 8 inches deep. Made of several sections, each section being attached to its neighbour by a hook and eye arrangement. Bonts are usually placed at 1 to 2 feet intervals up the wall sides of the oven but often extra bonts are used near the shoulder of the oven to support the crown.
Bonts or Bontings
Wrought iron bands around the oven to keep it in shape


BONTINGS Part of a bottle oven. Another name for bont.

BORDALOUE Ladies portable urinal. Sometimes known as a 'coach pot.' Absolutely not a gravy boat.

Spode Bordaloue  - not a gravy boat.


BOSLUM One of the six (five) towns. Known as The Mother Town. Burslem.

BOSS  
  • BOSS Occupation. The person you work for.
  • BOSS Process. Decorating department. Removing brush marks during groundlaying by bossing with a silk bag stuffed with cotton wool. D
  • BOSS Process. Transfer printing shop. Bossing - in pottery decoration known as GROUND-LAYING brush marks are removed by BOSSING - striking, the ware with a pad called a Boss made by stuffing cotton wool into a silk bag.
  • BOSS Equipment. Tool. Used in engraving. A leather pad or cushion for resting a copper plate.

BOSSING  Process. In the type of pottery decoration known as GROUND-LAYING brush marks are removed by bossing - stroking the ware with a pad called a boss made by stuffing cotton wool into a silk bag.

BOSSING ON Bashing clay onto an embossed (undercut) mould.

BOST Dialect. Same as brock or brock dine or burst. Broken. A bosted pot is useless. Fact.

BOSTED Dialect. Broken.

BOSTED CLOCK Dialect. Miserable face. "Ers got a face lark a bosted clock. Err must be propper dished."

BOTH DEE Dialect. Birthday. Hoorah! Got to buy cakes for your workmates.


BOTTLE OVEN

"The most notable feature of The Potteries skyline and nobody knew how they got there." Prominent until about the 1960s when they started being pulled down following the introduction of the Clean Air Act. A type of intermittent kiln for firing pottery. Coal fired using local long-flamed coal. Oil has also been used to fire bottle ovens.


Bottle ovens at Gladstone Pottery Museum >

A bottle-shaped structure, built from brick, in which pottery was fired. It consists of two main parts, an outer and an inner.

In the most basic oven, the updraught, the outer, which is the bottle shaped part, is known as the hovel. This could be up to 70 feet high. The hovel acted as a chimney taking away the smoke, creating draught and protecting the oven inside from the weather and uneven draughts.


The inner part is the oven proper. It is a round structure with a domed roof, the crown, and its walls are approximately 1 foot thick. Iron bands, known as bonts, run right round the circular oven about 12" apart to strengthen it as it expands and contracts during firing. A doorway, the clammins, just large enough for a man with a saggar on his head to pass through, is built into the oven surrounded by a stout iron frame. 

Around the base are firemouths - the exact number depends on the size of the oven - in which fires were lit for the firing. Inside the oven, over each firemouth, is a bag which carries some of the heat from the fire into the oven, like a small chimney. 


Flues underneath the floor of the oven leading from each firemouth distribute the heat throughout the inside. In the centre of the oven floor is the well hole.


Pottery may need to be fired several times during its manufacture and different ovens were needed for each type of firing so, depending on the output of each factory, a single works could have anything from one to 25 ovens. 


Within a factory, ovens were not situated to any set plan. They may have been grouped around a cobbled yard or in a row. Sometimes they were built in to the workshops with the upper part of the hovel protruding through the roof. The stack of such ovens was usually built on the shoulder of the oven itself.


No two bottle ovens alike; each had an individual shape. But they do fall into four main types.


  •    Updraught
  •    Downdraught
  •    Muffle
  •    Calcining


Within each type there are sub types more here> at the Potteries Bottle Oven website

There were/are many other types of oven such as two-tier ovens with an upper and lower chamber, salt-glaze ovens, frit kilns, beehive brick kilns and lime kilns.


BOTTLE KILN Same as bottle oven. But not quite!  The word 'oven' usually meant the biscuit or glost firing ovens and the word 'kiln' usually meant the enamel firing kiln, hardening-on kiln or calcining kiln. But usage did vary from factory to factory, so its complicated and difficult to be precise.

BOTTOM CLAY Type of saggar marl. Made with a higher concentration of grog to make the clay a little stronger at the bottom of the saggar than the side clay.

BOTTOM HEATH  (Regrets - not sure what this means)

BOTTOM KNOCKING Process. Ovens department. During saggar making. Flattening a ball of saggar clay into a bat using a mawl to knock the clay into a former made from a ring of iron.  The bat of clay is used for the bottom of a saggar.

Saggar making - bottom knocking
Bottom knocking


BOULDER CLAY Clay with origins in the glacial era so it contains boulders from the size of a small pebble right up to a massive sized chunks of rock. The clay itself is finely textured - ground and weathered during transportation in glaciers. Full of impurities so very unreliable and with mixed properties.  Generally low temperature firing.

BOW Dialect. A ball. "Cost kick a bow agen a wow an yed it till eat bosses?"

BOWKS Equipment. Old slip measure. Peculiar to Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd. (Wedgwood Review March 1958).

BOWL Part of a flint calcining oven. the bowl which held the flint pebbles during the calcining fire.

BOWL BODY Material. Particular type of clay body recipe.  (more details needed)

BOWL PINS Kiln furniture.

BOX HARRY Potteries dialect word. To do as you like.

BOX RIM Sanitaryware. Type of flushing rim on a toilet which spreads flushing water from the cistern into and around the bowl in a controlled manner in order to make the best use of the available water. Less splashing than open rim.

BOXING Process. Warehouse. Gift packaging pottery for special promotions. 

BOXING Process. Ovens department. Placing Method for placing clay cups prior to firing. Cups go rim to rim to help prevent distortion during the fire. 

BRAHMAH Dialect. Large glass marble for playing shotties. (Word courtesy of Joy Green, March 2104) 

BRAT Potteries dialect word. Waistcoat. 

BREAKSUFF Potteries dialect word. Breakfast 

BREATHING Pottery fault. Found in vitreous china  sanitaryware. Sometimes known as spangling and appears as tiny pinpricks in the glaze surface and is often only seen when lit from a certain angle  Breathing is caused by gas escaping to the glaze surface during firing and is most common in the bowls of vitreous china washbasins. It appears as tiny pin-pricks in the glaze surface and is often only apparent when illuminated from a certain angle. 

BRESSES Potteries dialect word. Breasts. "Nice bresses on that!" 

BRICK SHAPES


BRIGHT GOLD Material used during the process. Type of decoration. Also called liquid gold. Less expensive than best or burnish gold. Solution off gold sulphoresinate and other metal resinates with flux. Comes bright and shining from the decorating kiln and requires no further processing.

BRITISH STANDARD SHOVEL BS 3388:2004 Forks, shovels and spades. Alfred Clough always said that a No.8 shovel is "comfy" to use during the baiting process (shovelling coal onto the firemouth of an oven). He regarded the larger No.10 shovel as "too clumsy."

BROADBACK Type of fireclay or refractory brick. Used in the construction of a pottery bottle oven. Measuring "a brick and a half" and used in the oven bottoms, resting on the medfeathers. (Alfred Clough quote. Feb 1978)

BROKES  Term used in the English ball-clay mines for clay that will not cut into balls; such clay is generally of low plasticity and poor fired colour.

BROCK Potteries dialect word. Broken. Broke. Similar to bost or bosted.




BROCK DINE Potteries dialect word. The car refuses to start, damn it. May be its jiggered or even buggered.

BROKES Type of clay. Ball clay which has low plasticity and poor fired colour. Difficult to cut into balls.


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BRUSHING Process. Biscuit warehouse. Removal of bedding material (such as sand) from pottery after the biscuit fire. Some bedding material - sand or alumina dust - stick to the biscuit pieces and needs large revolving brushes to remove it.



BUGGERED Worn out; broken; thwarted, undermined, in a predicament.

BUGGERED UP  "I'm tired and I want to go to bed."  See jiggered.

BUGGERT Potteries dialect word. Same as buggered. Or jiggered.

BULLERS RINGS BOX


Bullers ring being measured

BULLERS RINGS Equipment. Used during firing. Pyrometric device used to measure the heatwork (the combined effect of both time and temperature) when firing materials inside the oven. Bullers rings do not measure temperature but show how well the fire has progressed, the intention being to visually communicate intensity of fire within the ware. Flat and hollow centered (a bit like a big giant Polo mint).A gauge is used to measure the fired ring. Various grades of ring, each of slightly different compositions, are available to cover all firing conditions and temperatures.



BULL NOSED Particular shape of brick used during the building of a bottle oven to provide a decoration at the very top of neck of the oven's stack. Also called pig nosed.

Bull nose bricks decorate the top of the bottle oven

BULL WICK Potteries dialect word. Bull week is the week before, the week before a holiday week. So two weeks before a holiday week, piece workers and day wage workers (if they can get overtime) will maximise their earnings as much as possible in order to create the biggest pay packet just before going on holiday. Potters are paid a week in hand.

BUN Potteries dialect word. Constipated.

BUNG Vertical piles of almost anything on a potbank are called bungs. Most often applied to a pile of saggars in the bottle oven, or a pile of ware in the warehouse. In a pile of saggars in the oven ready for firing the the top rim of each saggar has a wad or roll of wad clay to give each saggar a firm seat on the one below.  The wad also sealed the saggar to prevent the products of combustion entering and spoiling the ware it contained.


Bungs of saggars in the bottle oven, just placed

BUNK Potteries dialect word. To run off.

BURIN Equipment. Decorating Department.Engraving tool. Tool for hand engraving copper plates for the printing process. Tool has V - shaped section used to engrave lines on a copper plate to create part of the decoration.

BURLEIGH WARE Trade name for a product from Burgess and Leigh Ltd., Middleport Pottery > by the canal, Middleport, near Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent


http://www.middleportpottery.co.uk/ > Worth a look!



https://vimeo.com/130412909 


BURNISH Process. Decorating shop. Polishing overglaze colours, gilding or lustres after firing in order to increase their brilliancy. Various methods are used, the simplest being rubbing the surface with a stipple brush dipped in very fine silver sand, or by rubbing with a burnishing stone. The process was slow and expensive so bright gold was introduced as a non-burnished alternative. Burnishing tools in agate, stone or steel may also be used. In some potbanks burnishing is sometimes called sanding or scouring.


Burnishing tools



BURNISHING TOOLS
  • Bloodstones: for burnishing edges and lines and handles where gilding is solid.
  • Agates: for burnishing areas which cannot be touched or reached with a bloodstone eg. behind handle, under knobs, in grooves and deep edges, or embossments.
  • Emery powder: used on a thick leather piece on which the tool is rubbed to regain smoothness.
  • Shellac: used for fixing the stone into the ferrule.
(Information from Colin Fletcher of Spode via Robert Copeland Mar 1985)


BURNISHER Occupation. Decorating shop. The person who rubs fired gilding, to make it shine, using various types of Burnishing Tool.

BURNISHER'S PUTTY TIN  Burnisher's putty was used in the process of cleaning and maintaining burnishing tools. Burnishers purchased their own tools, which were expensive, so maintaining them was very important. Burnishing putty would be used with an putty strap in the first stage of cleaning a burnishing tool. The putty (or browning) would be placed on the strap. The burnishing tool would then be rubbed vigorously on the strap to remove gold particles. A second stage of cleaning then took place, which more thoroughly cleaned the bloodstone or agate head. This involved another strap and a substance called potash feldspar (or whiting). The whiting was sprinkled on the strap and the tool rubbed vigorously to the required finish.

Burnisher's Putty Tin
Image source: Staffordshire Past Track


BURNISH GOLD Material used during the process. Type of decoration. Sometimes known as 'best gold.' Applied by pencil (potter's name for a brush) or litho as a suspension of gold dust in oils, mercury salt, and flux (bismuth). After firing the gold decoration looks dull and lifeless but it is made brilliant and bright by burnishing with a blood stone, agate or steel. Also burnished with very fine silica sand.

BURNISHING CLAY Process. Clay end. Verb.  Rubbing the surface of the clay piece until it becomes glossy. Often takes several hours depending on the state of drying of the clay piece. Usually best at leatherhard.

BURSLEM WARE General term used to described ware manufactured in Burslem. The term is used differently in different eras. When used in the 17th Century the term would have referred to the staple product of the early pottery industry, items such as butter pots. These were made from local clays in Burslem. (Burslem was really where the industry started - hence the name The Mother Town.) The term was also used by Doulton in the early 20th Century to differentiate the Burslem manufactured products from the Lambeth products. It is also used by some to distinguish Burslem Art Pottery by Doulton. Burslem Pottery is a current brand name for a pottery manufacturing in Burslem today.

Vestal Shaving-Soap Vase and Cold Cream Soap 1897 in Burslem Ware


BUTTERBOARE A butterpot tester (from Plot's Staffordshire).

BUTTERFLY Glaze fault. Created during dipping, usually on holloware items and found inside where an air pocket prevents liquid glaze from fully coating the clay. Sometimes the shape of the bare patch looks like a butterfly. May be peculiar to Josiah Wedgwood. 1976.

BUZZED Dialect. Late for work. "Sorry boss, I was buzzed." See also franked.


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