Terminology for Glazed Pottery

The terminology used in explaining the process of glazing can be very confusing at first.  Please find below a quick summary of common used phrases.

Underglazes: A glaze that is used for consistent colors that stay in the same exact place they were added.

Overglazes: Accent products that are applied after pottery has already been glazed once and fired.

Slips: Watered down clay that normally has a specific color added to it. Sometimes it is made into a very thick liquid that is used to draw or color on clay.

Gloss: Smooth and shiny, with a highly reflective surface.

Matte: The exact opposite of gloss. Matte produces very little shine on pottery pieces.

Dead Matte: Produces no shine what so ever.

Opacity: This term refers to the transparency of the glaze.

Antiquing: Applying a certain color and wiping it back to accentuate the surface of the pottery piece.

Cadmium: A heavy metal that is used to produce red glazes and underglazes as well.

Coats: Applications of color or glaze by brush or sponge.

Crawling: Glaze that pulls together tightly and beads up until it leaves small bare spots of bisque.

Decals: Ceramic decals and ceramic transfers are effectively stickers which can be applied to the ceramic during the finish stage for branding or adding patterns.

Dryfooting: This is when glaze is removed from the very bottom of a clay project so that way it can be fired without stilting.

Finger-sand: Rubbing a glazed surface softly to remove any ridges on the pottery piece.

Flowing Coats: Using a brush soaked with glaze for application so the colors will slowly flow onto the surface of the pottery.

Pin Holes: Little holes in the surface of a finished glaze or underglaze.

Stain: Unfired colors that are used for decoration purposes.

Lead Release: The lead that is dissolved from the glazed surface that came into contact with acid solutions.

Kiln Wash: This is a coating that is applied to the very top of the kiln shelves to help protect them from the glaze drippings.

In this video, Janice The Potter displays some of her glazed finishes: