P

PACE Dialect. A sandwich. Also see piece.
  •   'Pace a chayz'
  •   'Pace a mate'
  •   'Pottery pace'
  •   'World pace'
  •   'Pace one day'
  •   'Pace in are tarm'
  •   'Give pace a chance'
  •   'Pace a thee action'

Pace


PACEWORK Dialect. See piece work.

PACK HORSE A horse used for carrying goods, freight, supplies, and, of course, pottery.

PACKER Occupation. In the packing house or packing shed. Skilled workman who has been trained to gather pots and pack them safely in either casks, crates, or loose on lorries using straw or wood wool as the packing medium. Also a packer can pack pots in boxes or corrugated cardboard cartons. Usually highly paid.

The pottery packer
The pottery packer


PACKING Process. Stuffing finished pottery ware into casks, crates or cartons using straw or woodwool (wood shavings) to separate and protect the pieces.

PACKING HOUSE A building on a potbank where goods are packed for customers, prior to dispatch. Sometimes separate from the main building because of the potential fire risk. A dry room, close to the finished warehouse and close to the works gate, from which the goods are despatched.

PACKING SANITARYWARE Process. Heavy and arduous work packing toilets and washbasins in wooden crates or on the back of open lorries until 1978 when palletised loads were developed and became common. Look at the movie from 1929 - you can spot at least one packer with a bad back!


 
Packing sanitaryware in 1920s




PACKING SHED  Same as the Packing House.  A building on a potbank where goods are packed for customers, prior to despatch. Sometimes separate from the main building because of the potential fire risk. A dry room, close to the finished warehouse and close to the works gate, from which the goods are despatched.

PADDLE Equipment. Entirely wooden when used in the dipping house to agitate glaze or in the sliphouse to agitate slip in a tub. Or a wooden spade mounted on a steel shaft when used in the packing shed to consolidate woodwool or straw into crates.

PALER Equipment. Tool. Type of pencil (potter's name for a small brush) in which the soft camel hair bristles are spread out to allow the painter or paintress to create a shaded effect when painting.

PAINTRESS Occupation. Decorating department. The person, a girl or lady, who applies finely ground and unfired enamel colour suspended in a mixture of fat oil and turps onto a pot in a decorative fashion.

PAINTING Process. Decorating department.The application of colours to pottery by the use of the brush, called a pencil. Pottery painting was once a much-esteemed occupation for men workers, of whom, in the early 20th Century, there were whole teams at individual potteries in North Staffordshire engaged upon highly skilled work. Towards the mid century work became much 'lighter' was and was performed by women and girls.

PAINTING SHOP. In the decorating department.  Where pieces of pot, either in the biscuit state or glost are decorated by skilled men or women using ceramic colours which when fired show their true colours and brilliance.

PALLET Equipment. Casting shop. Clay end. Small tool, sometimes home made, used for fettling clay pieces. Many thanks to David Broadhurst for suggesting this word. March 2016

PALETTE KNIFE Equipment. Decorating shop. Used for grinding and mixing enamel colours with fat oil on the palette before free hand painting.

PAN GRINDING Process. Grinding the constituents of a pottery recipe to a very fine particle size. In a pan mill.

PAN MILL Machine. Sliphouse. Sometimes called an edge runner mill. Used for grinding flint, sand, bone - all material used in the pottery body recipe. A large circular metal pan. The pan floor is composed of chert blocks with the gaps filled with pitcher (broken biscuit ware). Rotating sweep arms  push large and heavy chert blocks or ‘runners’ around the pan. The material is pushed and tumbled around the pan and is ground in the process. Very large diameter pans contain runners of up to one ton in weight. Grinding takes around 8 hours for flint, less for bone.  Ground material in slop from was run out of the pan to a floor below the milling room.





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PAN Sanitaryware. Toilet. The bowl of the WC. Not a lavatory which is actually a washbasin. Confusing but true. See Lav.

PAPER RESIST Decoration technique.  Strips of moist or adhesive paper adhered to the surface to resist application of slip or glaze.

PARIAN Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Vitreous. Unglazed. Fired twice to give the smooth surface. White porcelain which has a fine smooth surface after being fired at a temperature equal to that of biscuit earthenware, about 1150°C. Normally used to create figures and busts. The Spode company, under Copeland & Garrett, invented the body in about 1846 and used this material a lot in from then until the 1860s specifically for producing busts and statuettes hence its original name of 'statuary porcelain'.  Described by John Gibson RA in about 1844 as 'decidedly the best material next to Marble'.  The name 'Parian' comes from Paros, a Greek island renowned for its fine-textured marble.

Spode Parian Figure

PARTICLE ORIENTATION A particular feature of clay.  Clay particles are flat and prefer to orient or arrange in a lattice-like pattern during mixing and forming operations. Throwing a vessel on the potter's wheel lines up the particles in the clay. Rolling, casting, kneading operations affect particle orientation, too. Particle orientation imposes a big influence on a clay's drying shrinkage such that a piece will shrink more along one dimension than another.

PATE-SUR-PATE Process of decoration. 'Paste-on-paste.'  Decoration in which sculptural relief decoration is built up in successive layers with contrasting coloured slip (most commonly white) on the surface of leather-hard clay ware.

PATTERN Name of the applied surface decoration on a pot, for example by transfer printing or by litho. May also be the name of the embossed decoration in the clay.

PATTERN NUMBER A unique number given to a pottery pattern by the manufacturer to make it easy to identify the exact pattern should re-runs of that particular decoration be required.

PATTERN SAFE Lock up room where the catalogue of patterns are kept.  Needs to be secure since the history of patterns produced by a company would be kept there.

PAVERS In the mill or slip house.  Huge blocks of stone in the base of the grinding mill.

PEARLWARE A particular pottery product with a particular "feel" and "look" when fired. Essentially an earthenware (or creamware) with a particular glaze to produce a more porcelain-like finish. Developed after about 1775 when potters began to add a small amount of cobalt blue stain to the glaze in an attempt to whiten creamware and make it more like porcelain or china. Pearlware is the collectors’ name for “china glaze.”   A distinct grey-blue finish. This glaze was ideal for blue printed earthenware and potters continued to use it long after a clear, colourless glaze was possible in the early years of the 19th century.

PEASANT WARE Hand painted decoration created by using bold strokes of the brush (locally called a pencil) and sometimes with a cut sponge. See > cut sponge.

PEBBLE MILL Equipment. Used in the slip house. Used for the very fine grinding of ceramic materials. Large revolving cylinder (12 feet diameter and 15 feet long) made from riveted sheets of steel. Revolves around its horizontal axis. Containing grinding media (flint pebbles) of sizes varying from the size of a marble up to the size of an egg and used to grind batches of ceramic material such as silica sand. Similar to a ball mill.

PECKING Process. A technique for repairing faulty pot.

PEE DEE Dialect. Thursday. The day when potters get paid. Sometimes, but very rarely, a Friday.  Also the day (and night) when the potter spends his wages getting drunk. Sometimes blind drunk.

PEEDY Dialect. A small shotty. So what's a shotty. Its a glass marble. (Word courtesy of Joy Green March 2014)

PEELER Equipment. Tool. Similar to a punching poker.

PEEL or PEELING Glaze fault. Glaze beaks away from the body due to too high compression of the glaze by the body. A mismatch of thermal expansions of the body and glaze. This is caused by the glaze being of such a composition that its expansion coefficient is too low to match that of the body. It is the opposite of crazing.

PEEPHOLE Same as spyhole. Part of a bottle oven. Small opening just above the regulator hole above the firemouth in a bottle oven. Allows viewing of the condition of the fire in the bag (which itself can have a hole in its far side to allow viewing straight through into the oven beyond. Sometimes covered with a metal slide or a brick end.

PEGGING Process. Clay end. Repairing a crack in a clay piece by filling it with slip and smoothing it over before the piece is fired. Hopefully it will be invisible after firing. In sanitaryware manufacture pegging can also be done in the dry clay state by scraping the crack with a wooden peg and then rubbing usually with a bone handled knife. Bone handled knives were also used to repair fish cracks on the outside rims of closets. Many thanks to David Broadhurst for suggesting this word for inclusion. March 2016

PEGGER Occupation. See immediately above. But it would be usual for the caster him or herself who pegged.

PEN Equipment. Shelving in a warehouse, usually made of wood.

PENCIL Equipment. Tool. Potter's name for a small brush. Camel hair is used when the pencil is used for fine decorative work. Sable is also used.

PENNY CENTRE Glazing fault.  Fault associated with hand dipping large flatware, particularly on a vitreous substrate [such as bone china or porcelain]. As the dipper spins the piece to remove excess glaze, the glaze sometimes collects in the centre due to centrifugal force. The fired piece then has a circle of heavy glaze similar in size to an old penny.   (This Potbank Dictionary definition was supplied courtesy of Marcus Auralius on Facebook, 5 March 2016. Thank you!)

PENNINE Material. Glaze. Brand name of a particular glaze recipe introduced by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd of Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent, England, in 1965s. Used on Oven-to-Table ware ranges.

Wedgwood Pennine oven-to-tableware, designed by Eric Owen, 1965

PENNINE Brand name of the Wedgwood Oven-to-Table ware range. 1965.

PEPPER POT Equipment. Gas burner on an intermittent gas-fired oven.

PERISHED Dialect. A ganzy is required. 'Arm perished; put more coal on.'

PESTLE Equipment. As in pestle and mortar. A tool used to crush, grind, and mix solid substances. The pestle is a heavy base-ball-bat-shaped object, the end of which is used for crushing and grinding.

PETUNTSE Not a word which is commonly found on a potbank!  In fact, in 40 years, I've never heard it on a pottery factory. Ever. Cornish Stone or China Stone. Component of pottery body recipe. Partially decomposed granite - fully decomposed granite turns into china clay.  Petuntse contains feldspatic minerals and quartz. Used in the pottery body as a flux. Also petunse.


PHOTO ETCHING 

Process. The Spode pottery factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England, was famous for designs printed from hand engraved copper plates - a technique perfected by Josiah Spode I in about 1784. Various developments have occurred in the process of decorating pottery over the years and in the 1920s a method of producing designs on copper plates by photoetching was used for a short time.

The designs were still printed from copper plates but these were photoetched, rather than engraved by hand, giving a pale, delicate appearance in grey when printed which could then be hand painted over the outline.


In this process of photoetching the copper plate was coated with a photosensitive film and exposed, in the same way as photographic paper, to light passed through a photographic negative. The plate would then be immersed in an acid bath, where the acid would eat into only those areas of the copper where the film had been affected by light. The copper would then be used for printing just the same as an engraved copper.


The technique was not widely used, as the images, being shallower, were less durable than engravings and could not be repaired by re-engraving. Basically the etched plates wore out. Spode patterns produced by photoetching include Houndsor Barkers Dogs. Produced on the yellow glazed ware known as Royal Jasmine in about 1935 the pattern was printed and then hand painted and featured different hounds heads painted in natural colours over the print.




PIECE Item of pottery ware. Flatware or holloware are known as pieces. It is unlikely, though, that a large piece of sanitaryware, a toilet, would be known as a piece.

PIECE Dialect. A sandwich for breakfast or lunch (dinner). Same as a pace. A 'piecey' would be a piece for a child who needed encouragement to eat!

PIECEY Dialect. A small piece. A small pace. A child's pace of food.

PIECEWORK Method of payment for potters who create or decorate pieces repetitively. The more you do the more you get paid. Pieceworkers are paid a fixed "piece rate" for each item of pottery they produce. A form of performance-related pay. (Day-wage, on the other hand, guarantees a fixed income calculated on daily attendance.)

PIERCING Process. Clay decoration.  From SPODE  'In the late 1990s a new method of piercing ware was introduced at the Spode factory and pierced designs with both traditional and modern shapes became part of Spode production once more.’ The new method involved using a machine rather than doing it by hand.
Pierced ware by Spode  -  Christmas Tree pattern


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PIG 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 bull nosed.

PIG MUCK GREEN Colour used in under glazed printed decoration. Peculiar to the Spode factory? A common colour thought to have been made from the dregs of other unused printing colours.

PIG STICK Equipment. Potting department. A clay hardness penetrometer.  Precision tool, calibrated annually, for measuring the stiffness or hardness of clay.  Some potters use a finger.



PILLAR Equipment. Kiln furniture. Fireclay post or upright part of a crank.

PIN Equipment. Kiln furniture. Used in cranks or sometimes called racks. Located in the upright posts (called rods) to support dipped ware prior to the glost firing. The top piece in the rack is called the crown.

Pins in a crank supporting glost plates

PINNING Process. Fixing pins in the empty holes in posts of cranks.

PINNER Occupation. Ovens department. Person who carries out the pinning process.

PINCHING Process. In saggar making.

PINCHING  Process in craft or studio potting. Hand-building method.  Clay pieces formed by pinching repeatedly between thumb and fingers, or between fingers of one hand and palm of opposing hand.

PIN HOLE Glaze fault. Tiny pits or craters which have formed in the glaze during firing. Created when bubbles in the applied glaze burst but fail to heal during the fire. May also be caused by entrapped air in the clay.

In vitreous china sanitaryware the small holes in the surface of the product, usually associated with the body as well as the glaze, are defined in British Standard BS3402 as having a maximum diameter of 2mm. These are almost always the result of air trapped in the casting slip as bubbles which burst to the surface as small craters during firing. Occasionally larger pinholes can be the result of burning out of a foreign body in the cast.

Pinholes - a common pottery fault

PINK A medium temperature in the glost oven. Low down in the second and third rings of saggars where it is about 1000°C.

PINT WEIGHT  A unit of measure in the potbank. The weight of one pint of of clay slip or glaze suspension in water. This is a unit of the density of the slip or glaze expressed as ounces. Pint weight is an accurate measure of the slip or glaze density and is used in quality control to ensure likeness between batches. So, in summary, pint weight is the weight of one pint of slip or glaze in ounces measured in a pint weight can.

PIP Kiln furniture.

PIPPER Occupation. Ovens department.

PIPE BUNG Part of a bottle oven. Sometimes called the well hole pipes. A chimney, made up of saggars with no base, standing in a bung over the well hole in the centre of the bottle oven. The height of the pipe bung depends on the height of the oven to the crown. Has no effect on the draught of the oven.

PITCHER Pottery body fault. Worse than lump. To be thrown away. Broken. Useless.
The description or classification of the quality of pottery ware - the seven grades of pottery quality:


  • BEST - First quality pottery. Good ware. Sometimes called FIRSTS. But there is no such thing as a perfect pot since every piece will always have some sort of slight blemish - this is the very nature of pottery.
  • 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 than 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 was/is still marketable, however, and was sold 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 WORSER SECONDS. Or even THIRDS. This is almost, but not quite, 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 have been 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." Top-end, high-grade potbanks 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."  Usually, about 100 years later,  lump re-appears on TV shows as 'rare and valuable.'  That’s irony!
  • PITCHER Worse than lump. To be thrown away. Broken. Useless. But strangely saleable, at a price, in some quarters!

PITCHER Type or particular shape of a large pottery jug.


PLACER Occupation 1. Ovens department. A placer is the person, usually male but could be female, who places individual clay pieces or dipped biscuit pieces into saggars before they are placed (or set in) the oven for firing. If the firing was glost then he or she would also need to place wads of wad clay on the top rim of the saggar before it was taken into the oven.




PLACER Occupation 2. Ovens department. Male.  The placer is the man who fills or sets the oven with saggars containing the ware which had been placed into the saggars by the previous placer. The placer works for the cod, his boss.




PLACERS ROLL Equipment. Used by a placer.  A rolled up roll of fabric (or more usually ladies stockings) to form a doughnut shape, then tucked inside his hat to steady and help balance a saggar on his head.

PLACING  Process in the ovens department. Loading the oven with saggars full of ware ready for firing.

PLACING SAND Material used during placing. Very fine and clean (free from impurities) silica sand used in placing and rubbing-up earthenware in saggars.

PLASTER (Plaster of Paris) 

Material. Calcined gypsum. White powder that sets to a hard porous solid when mixed with water. It is usually the hemihydrate of calcium sulphate. 

Used for making moulds. All plasters vary greatly in their characteristics from very soft to extremely hard, high porosity and low porosity. Dense plaster is used for making the master mould (the 'block' which is precious and needs to be cared for since it is the first mould to be taken from the original model) or the case.  Lighter plaster is used for making production moulds which need to be highly porous in order to absorb water quickly from the slip during casting. Dry Plaster of Paris moulds are very porous. 


Technically, all gypsum casting plasters are either alpha or beta or a blend of both. The basic plaster made in open pans in batches by heating the powdered rock becomes a beta plaster ideal for pottery making.  But if the gypsum is made into a slurry and put into large autoclave (pressure cooker) then heated to around 220°C,
 a plaster is produced that forms much longer and straighter crystals on setting to produce an alpha plaster which is very hard. From these two bases everything in between is made by mixing both. The plaster/water ratio is very important especially if you need to get consistent results regarding strength and porosity. Too much water and the set will be longer, the strength lower and the porosity higher. Too little water and the set will be quicker, the strength may be too high and the porosity too low.

Used by potters as early as the sixteenth century for making casts or impressions.
 


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PLASTIC CLAY Moist, soft clay is described as plastic. It deforms under little pressure without tearing or cracking. It stays deformed.

PLASTIC Plastic clay.  Soft and easily mouldable, deformable and maleable clay. Like soft putty. Or very soft 'plasticine.'

PLASTICITY Description of the characteristic of moist clay. Its ease of deformation or 'squidgeeness.' The quality of mouldable flexibility in damp clay - superior plasticity depends on smaller clay particle size, slight acidity, less non-plastic additives, aging of damp clay, adequate water content, and/or addition of plasticisers.

PLAT Cornish word for the overburden or top soil in a china clay mine. Not strictly a potter's word but worth noting.

PLATE A piece (pace) of pottery. 4, 5 ,6 7, 8, 9, 10 inch plate sizes.

PLATE The 10 inch plate. That is all. The 10 inch plate.

PLATE Equipment. Used in the saggar making shop. Large flat metal sheet pierced with holes of about 2" diameter. Used by the saggar maker's bottom knocker to transfer the recently made saggar bottom onto a whirler prior to the saggar maker constructing of the sides of the saggar.

Saggar Maker's Bottom Knocker holds a plate
Saggar Maker's Bottom Knocker holds a plate


PLATE-PLATE Equipment in the engraving shop. Decorating end. The copper plate created to decorate the plate (which was the 10 inch plate). Can be confusing.

PLATEMAKER Occupation. Potting shop. Person - usually a man who makes plates by jiggering.

PLATE PRESSER Occupation. Potting shop. Early - before the advent of plate making machines - jiggers. In the 19th Century plates were made by pressing sheets of clay onto plaster of Paris moulds. The mould formed the front of the plate. The presser threw a bat of clay onto the mould and smoothed and pressed it into shape. Various tools were used to trim away excess clay from the edges and to form the footring.

PLATE TURNER Not an occupation but usually a Potteries person, born and bred. Found in eating houses. Searches for the backstamp on the piece showing where it came from and who made it.

PLATINUM Material used during the decorating process. Lustrous decoration on tableware or decorative pottery.  Modern liquid bright platinum (or silver as it is still frequently and incorrectly called) is a homogeneous solution which needs no further treatment after firing at enamel temperatures. The more scientific and stable preparations now in use consist of a platinum resinate in certain essential oils such as rosemary or lavender; they are true solutions of uniform character. English lustres were originally made either from gold or from platinum. The gold lustre applied over a brown body produced a dark copper effect or, over a white body, various shades of pink, lilac and purple with a golden iridescence. Platinum produced the steel and silver lustres. It is not certain who first invented English lustre. It may have been John Hancock who, writing to the Staffordshire Mercury in 1846, at the age of 89, claimed to be “the original inventor of lustre, which is recorded in several works on Potting, and I first put it in practice at Mr. Spode’s manufactory, for Messrs. Daniels and Brown”. Or it may have been John Gardner who was also later employed by Spode.

PLUCK or PLUCKED Glaze fault. Caused by the ware sticking to kiln furniture during firing.

PLUCK AND DUST Decorating technique. A particular method of transfer printing onglaze (More on transfer printing here>) Also known as pull and dust. May be specific to the Spode Factory in Stoke. The transfer tissue paper was printed with printing oil which contained no colour at all (except for a small percentage of Lamp Black - soot - which made the print slightly visible) . The tissue was then rubbed down onto the glazed piece to transfer the pattern onto it. The tissue was then carefully plucked or pulled away leaving the sticky oily pattern behind. The oil was then dusted with finely ground enamel colour. The dust stuck to the oil. Any excess was cleaned off before the piece was fired to around 800C in the enamel kiln, to make the pattern permanent.

PLUCKER Equipment. Used by the saggar maker. A piece of wood with bevelled edges used to flatten and shape the saggar clay to secure the saggar bottom to the sides. (Source: Alfred Clough during the Last Bottle Oven Firing 1978)

PLUCKING UP Process. During saggar making. Attaching the bottom to the sides of the saggar by manipulating the clay from which the saggar is made using a plucker.

PLUMBAGO Material. Name of a refractory body recipe. Mixture of fireclay and graphite. Used extensively for the manufacture of crucibles for metal foundries. Made in the UK by Doulton & Co., Lambeth.

Doulton and Co., Lambeth 1872


PMT Potteries Motor Traction bus company. Potteries Muck Truck. Public transport throughout the area.



PNEUMOCONIOSIS Disease. Occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust. In the coal mines it was coal dust. In the pottery industry it was fine siliceous dust from the dry clay.

POBS Dialect. Bread and milk. Breakfast anyone? Sometimes cereal and milk.

POGE Old local word used in the Dorset clay mines for the tool used to lift balls of ball clay.

POLISHER Occupation. Finished, glost, warehouse. A polisher (male or female) worked in the warehouse and used a fast rotating grinding stone of fine grit (on lathe) to remove blemishes from the surface of glost product. A skilled polisher could use a variety of stones of increasing fineness to achieve an almost perfect surface. The dust created by polishing is injurious to health and a method of sucking the dust away is required. Polishers were also employed to removed surface defects from biscuit, jasper stoneware, and decorated wares. Polishers were not generally employed in the sanitaryware industry.

POLISHER Occupation. Glost Warehouse.  Grinds or polishes away pin marks from back of flat ware items that won’t go through a ginetting machine.

POLISHING Process. Removal of fine surface blemishes and irregularities on glazed pottery pieces using a fine abrasive stone or rotating abrasive wheel on a lathe.

POLISHING KNIFE Equipment. Potting department. Used during flatware or holloware pressing to polish the batted out clayware before it is placed and pressed into the mould.

POLLY Nickname for the tea lady (if you had one on your factory). Put the kettle on, duck.

POOCH See Rammle.

POPPED HIS CLOGS To cease to live. Euphemism for death. Unknown source but some potters in a potbank would wear clogs to protect his or her feet. It was common to pawn all sorts of belongings to help tide you over to the next pay day. Another word for pawn was pop. If you were going to die, you wouldn't need your clogs any more, so relatives would pop them.




PORCELAIN Type of ceramic body with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Smooth textured, vitreous (non porous) translucent and white firing.
Two types of porcelain are made:
1) 'Hard paste porcelain' firing to in excess of 1400°C. Sometimes called 'true' porcelain, similar in characteristics and composition to the original Chinese body. Made from china clay (kaolin), feldspar and quartz (silica) and after a relatively low temperature biscuit fire of about 900°C is glazed and then fired hard glost (high temperature) at 1400°C.
2) 'Soft paste porcelain' firing to approx 1250°C.  Sometimes described as 'artificial' and contains pre-formed glassy substances. Soft paste is difficult to manufacture.

POROUS Description of the water absorption characteristics of pottery. Earthenware is porous. The opposite is vitreous which is glass like and bone china is therefore described as vitreous.

POSSET POT Special shape of pot with several handles used in the 17th Century to serve posset, a beverage made from hot milk curdled with wine or ale.

POST Kiln furniture. An upright in a crank. Three posts are used in a crank. Also larger refractory columns used as kiln furniture to support kiln shelves.



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POTBANK 

Where it all happens and the reason for this dictionary!


According to the late Robert Copeland, Master Potter, in his book Manufacturing Processes of Tableware during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries :  ISBN 978-0-9563159-0-8  Pub Northern Ceramic Society.    “The term Potbank has been used for generations ... I believe that it derives from the days when Josiah Wedgwood was unable to meet the demand for his creamwares so he sub-contracted to other potters to make his shapes in the body of his specification, and to hold these stocks in their own warehouses for him to call upon as he required them. These warehouses were called banks. The term does not imply that the pottery was on a hillside nor by a canal or river.”


Allerton's Pottery Bank
The Park Works of Charles Allerton, High Street, Longton
Photo source: unknown  Date: unknown

POTBANK The entire pottery factory, from the start to the finish, of the making process. From Sliphouse to Warehouse. All the buildings and the yards.

"The pottery manufactories — known locally as 'potbanks' - have nothing big about them, no six-storey factories or towering chimneys. You see no huge warehouses, no high public buildings. ....

It resembles no other industrial area I know. I was at once repelled and fascinated by its odd appearance. Perhaps it was all the more curious to me because, being a Yorkshire-man, when I see so much grimy evidence of toil, I also expect to see the huge dark boxes of factories and the immensely tall chimneys with which I am so familiar.


...... there were no tall chimneys, no factory buildings frowning above the streets; but only a fantastic collection of narrow-necked jars or bottles peeping above the house-tops on every side, looking as if giant biblical characters, after a search for oil or wine, had popped them there, among the dwarf streets. These, of course, are the pottery kilns and ovens, which are usually tall enough to be easily seen above the rows of cottage houses.


I never got used to their odd appearance, never quite recovered from my first wild impression of them as some monstrous Oriental intrusion upon an English industrial area. But without these great bottles of heat, there would be no Potteries. They represent the very heart and soul of the district, as you very soon learn.'"


J B Priestley, English Journey, 1933



POTBONK Dialect. Where it all happens! Same as Potbank, Potworks, Pottery.

POTBANK OCCUPATIONS There are many. Here is just a few, in process order:  Slip houseman, Mould maker, Jiggerer, Fettler, Sponge, Caster, Handler, Clay department labourer, Biscuit placer, Biscuit brusher, Biscuit selector, Engraver, Printer, Transferer, Washer off, Glost Department labourer, Hardening on Placer, Ware Cleaner, Dipper, Dippers assistant, Glost Placer, Kiln-man, Selectorr, Order picker, Packer.

POTCLAYS The Potclays Limited Group of Companies founded in 1932. Operating from two sites: The Potters Clay & Coal Co. Ltd, operating from the original site where it was founded in 1932. Called 'Swan Works' in Brownhills, South Staffordshire. Functions as the main clay mine and clay processing. The other site, at the Albion Works, is in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent where there is material processing, glaze manufacture, kiln manufacture, warehousing, showrooms and main offices.

Potclays, Copeland Street, Stoke-on-Trent, England in 1975
Demolished to make way for the A500 'D Road'
Photo by the author

POT WORKS Potbank. Potbonk.

POTT WORKS Potbank. Potbonk.

POT The total sum of the bets made on a round in poker and other card games! But since this is a potbank dictionary the poker game doesn't really have a relevance!  So a pot is a container, typically rounded or cylindrical used for storage or cooking. A piece of pottery.

POT SHERD Broken pot or saggar. A shord or pitcher.

POTTER Occupation. Works in a potbank.

POTTERY The oldest and most natural of the useful arts. A term sometimes applied to all those articles which have been formed of baked clay. A very wide term which covers all sorts of ceramic from the finest porcelains to bricks, tiles, garden ware, kitchen crockery, table wares and ornamental wares, sewer pipes and sanitaryware.

POTTERY WORKER Occupation. 'Doing the same job for the same firm from the time he leaves school till the time he is incapable of working.'

POTTERS HORN Thin kidney shaped piece of animal horn or metal. Used by a presser to smooth the surface of clay.

POTTERS HOLIDAYS Hooray! When Stoke shuts down and potters go 'en mass' to get their fate wet.

POTTERS NOD A peculiar affliction which potters acquire when jiggering oval dishes or platters. See for yourself on this clip from a 1935 silent film.


POTTERS ROT Disease. Silicosis. Pottery workers were known to die in their forties because of potter's rot. Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhaling clay dusts containing a high proportion of free silica. Now the conditions in factories are controlled by Regulations.

POTTERS' UNION Ceramics workers' unions - timeline

  • 1827 - founding of the union as the National Union of Operative Potters
  • 1834 -  a loose federation named the United Branches of Operative Potters
  • xxxx - National Society of Male and Female Pottery Operatives
  • 1906 - National Amalgamated Society of Male and Female Pottery Workers formed. Merged with several pottery unions.
  • 1908 - Associated Stoneware Throwers, Bristol Stone Potters Society and Operative Pottery Engravers joined.
  • 1919 - changed name to National Society of Pottery Workers.
  • 1921 - Packers' Society and United Ovenmen's Society joined.
  • 1970 - changed name to Ceramic and Allied Trades Union (CATU).
  • 2006 - changed name to Unity.
  • 2015 - the union merged into the GMB.

POTTER'S WHEEL Equipment. Clay end - potting department.  A horizontal revolving disc on which wet clay is shaped into pots or other round ceramic objects. The machine used in the shaping of round clay pots before they are fired. According to this movie from 1935 it is one of man's most primitive of machines.



POTTER'S WHEEL Pub.  Bradwell Lane, Porthill, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England

POT TREES Dialect The Potteries.

POTTING The name given to the entire pottery manufacturing process. 

This extract, from a publication dated 4th June 1795, describes how 'many different hands' a 'common teapot' goes through before it is finished. 

" A single piece of ware, such as a common enamelled teapot, a mug, jug etc, passes through at least fourteen different hands before it is finished, viz:



  • The slipmaker, who makes the clay
  • The temperer, or beater of clay
  • The thrower, who forms the ware
  • The ballmaker and carrier
  • The attender upon the drying of it
  • The turner who does away with the roughness
  • The spoutmaker
  • The handler, who puts to the handle and the spout
  • The first, or biscuit fireman
  • The person who immerses or dips it into the lead fluid
  • The second, or gloss fireman
  • The dresser or sorter in the warehouse
  • The enameller, or painter
  • The muffle, or enamel fireman

Several more are required to the completion of such a piece of ware, but are in inferior capacities such as turners of the wheel, turners of the lathe etc etc."

From: A Description of The Country from thirty to forty miles around Manchester.  By J Aikin M.D. 4th June 1795



POTTING DEPARTMENT In the clay end. Department in a potbank, potbbonk and potworks. Where pieces of pottery are manufactured using clay.


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POWDER BLUE Type of applied decoration.

POWDERING Type of applied decoration. Decorating department. Creating a decorative effect called powder blue (or pink). Colour is mixed in oil and then brushed onto the glaze. A natural sponge is then used to create a stipple effect by light;y dabbing it over the surface of the colour.

POWK Medical problem. Sty in the eye.

PRESS Machine. Filter press. Clay end, sliphouse. Used to 'dewater' slip.  An essential piece of machinery in the sliphouse consisting of a set or series of slightly hollow cast iron slabs (supported on rails ) which, when closed together, form a series of square chambers. Each slab has a central hole through which slip can pass from one chamber to the next, for filling. Filter press was invented by Needham and Kite in 1857. It revolutionised the industry in Stoke-on-Trent. Introduced into the industry by W.T.Copeland (Spode) who installed the first one at his factory. A brilliant business man he also obtained a licence from the inventors and patentees so made money each time a pottery manufacturer installed this new invention.

PRESS CAKE One of several slabs of clay found in a filter press after the pressing cycle finishes. The filter press removes water from slip to produce plastic clay ready for wedging before balling up.

PRESS CLOTH Equipment. Filter cloth. The cloth which forms the filter medium for de-watering clay slip, under pressure. Two filter cloths encased between two metal slabs in the filter press are filled, under pressure from a filter pump.  ( The filter press will have a series of these units ) As pressure increases the filter cloth traps clay particles but allows water through. The slip becomes de-watered and a press cake of plastic clay remains trapped in the press cloth. Press cloths may be finely woven cotton, nylon or Terylene.

PRESSMAN Occupation. Clay end.  Slip house. The operator of the filter press machine. (see above)

PRESS MOULD Plaster of Paris (or clay) mould used to form pots.

PRESS MOULDING Process. Same as pressing. A slab of clay is pressed into or onto the press mould. When the clay begins to dry out it takes on the form of the mould and can be removed easily from it. Complicated forms can involve several moulds.

PRESS PUMP Equipment.  The pump used on a filter press to raise the pressure of the slip as it is pumped through the filter press to de-water the sip and create press cakes of plastic clay.

PRESSING Process. Potting department. Quite an old method of shaping pottery by pressing a slab of plastic clay between two halves of a mould. The maker, entirely unaided by any machine, presses the plastic clay by hand into the plaster moulds to create the article's final shape.

PRESSER Occupation.  The person who creates shaped clay pieces by pressing (see immediately above).

PRESSURE CASTING Process.  Slip casting in moulds of either plaster or porous resin plastic. The slip under pressure is forced through the porous mould. Water passes through the mould leaving plastic clay behind in the form of the shape of the piece. Much faster than natural gravity casting.

Movie: Pressure casting machines


PRESTIGE WARE 'the posh stuff'.

PRICKING Ovens dept. State of flame in the firing of a coal-fired bottle oven. Could be seen through one of the spy holes in the bottle oven.

PRIMARY AIR The air which passes through the firebed in the mouth of a bottle oven to aid the burning coal.  In a gas kiln, air which enters back end of burner tube via atmospheric pressure in an atmospheric burner or via blower pressure in a power burner.

PRIMARY CLAY Material. Component of pottery body recipe. China clay (kaolin) is a primary clay. Sometimes called residual clay. Clays which remains at the site of the parent rock, without being transported by wind or water - tend to be free of contaminants but coarse particle size and therefore low plasticity.

PRINT Process. Decoration. The oldest and simplest form of of transfer decoration, usually single colour. An impression is taken by thin tissue-like paper from an engraved copper plate containing the coloured pattern and then applied to the ware.  See engraving here> and page down.

PRINT AND TINT Process. Decoration. Applying more colour to a single colour print.

PRINTER Occupation. Decorating department.

Printer  -  Wedgwood 1970
Photographed by the author using a Kodak Instamatic
at the age of sixteen,  when he was a management trainee.

PRINTERS BAT Equipment. Decorating department.

PRINTERS BIT Equipment. Decorating department. Refractory piece which is used to separate the individual pieces in a bung of pottery.

PROFILE TOOL Equipment. Ovens department. Used by the biscuit bedder or bedder to form a profile of a clay piece of flatware in flint or alumina dust. Made from Plaster of Paris or fired clay.



PROFILE SETTER Equipment. Ovens department. Refractory kiln furniture shaped to hold the clay piece during firing.

PROFILE SETTER PLACER Occupation. Ovens department. Biscuit firing. A skillful occupation requiring lots of patience and working in difficult conditions. The profile setter placer would place the biscuit flatware onto fine silica sand or alumina dust which had been formed into the shape of the fired piece. As the clay piece shrank in the firing process it would assume the shape of the sand or alumina. The finished biscuit ware would, in this way, be perfectly shaped and not at all crooked. If the profile setter placer made a mistake and made his setting poorly then the fired flatware would be distorted (taking the shape of the mistake).

PROFILE TOOL Equipment. Tool. Potting department. The tool on a jigger used to create the back of a piece of flatware.

PROP Kiln furniture. One of three uprights in a crank.

PROPPER DISHED Dialect. Upset. Disappointed. Aww.

POST Kiln furniture. Part of athe kiln furniture used in a bottle oven.

PUDDLED or PUDDLE-YEDDED TUP Dialect. Thick or just plain daft. Soft in the head. 'One pace short in his snappin tin.' See half baked. See pace.

PUG 
or PUG MILL
or PUGMILL Equipment. Machine. Clay end. Sliphouse. A machine which replaced the process of wedging (or slapping, the older word for it) to prepare the 'plastic' clay for use. Knives rotating within a steel drum or barrel chop up the clay and force it forwards through a perforated grid into a de-airing vacuum chamber (like a mincing machine). From there it is consolidated and forced along a tapering barrel to be extruded through a die as a roll of clay having uniform plasticity. May be horizontal or vertical.

PUGMAN Occupation. Clay end. Sliphouse. The man who operated the pug.

PULL A single print, on potters' tissue, pulled (ie printed) from an engraved copper plate but not passed on to the next stage of printing. Used as a trial or as an example to explain the process of transfer printing. Also so tissue pull here> and scroll down for more pictures.

PULL - A single print, on potters' tissue


PULL AND DUST Decorating technique. Another name for Pluck and Dust 

PULLING Process. Craft potting. Shaping a handle by hand to the correct size and shape.

PUNCH Equipment.  Decorating department. Used by the engraver. A graver. Small steel tool used to make the dots which create the effects of shading or tone.

PUNCHING Process. Decorating department. Engraving.  Very close work needing good eyes and good lighting. Creating a subtle tone on an engraved copper plate which is used for transfer printing. Sometimes called 'stipple punching.'



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PUNCHING OUT Process. Sanitaryware potting department. Using a small, sharp, shaped metal tool to remove the tapholes in a clay washbasin or bidet.

PUNCHING OUT  Using a punching poker to break up the firebed in a cold bottle oven's ash pit after the firing process. Also to knock down the clammins after firing.

PUNCHING POKER
Equipment. Tool. Used during the firing of a bottle oven. About 6 feet long and an inch and a half thick. Sometimes called a peeler.

PUTHERY Dialect. Hot, humid, sweaty. The sliphouse on a summer's day. Vile. "Oooh its ot, inner eat?"  A close summers day.

PUTTER UP Occupation. Dipping house.  'Arm a putterup, duck.'  Usually female. She either 1) takes biscuit holloware (cups for instance) from a ware basket, and places them onto a ware board in front of the dipper who then takes each piece dips it into glaze. Or 2) takes the recently-dipped holloware and places it onto trays or bats or ware boards before they are taken away to dry before the next process - glost firing.

The dipper and his putter up
See the movie here> where a putter up explains what she is doing at 2mins 14 seconds into the sequence.


PYROMETER Equipment. Device for measuring the temperature in the bottle oven or kiln.

PYROMETRIC CONE Equipment. Ovens department. Device used to gauge heatwork during the firing. The cones, often used in sets of three are positioned in a kiln with the ware to be fired. They provide a visual indication of when the ware has reached a required state of maturity, a combination of time and temperature. Thus, pyrometric cones give a temperature equivalent, they are not simple temperature-measuring devices. Sometimes called 'seger cones.'  In 1782, Josiah Wedgwood created accurately scaled pyrometric beads. This led him to be elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

 


PYROSCOPE Equipment. As Pyrometric cone. Or may be a Bullers Ring.  A piece of specially blended ceramic body which is designed to bend , shrink or melt at specific temperatures. These were placed in the oven prior to firing in places where they could be viewed or extracted and measured durin the fire and near to the end of the firing process. The pyroscope enable the fireman to judge how well or badly the fire was proceeding.


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