FACE LARK A BOSTED OOH RAY  Dialect. Miserable person with a miserable face. "Summat up duck?"  "Hers got a cob on!"  Also sometimes "Face lark a bosted clock"

FAIENCE  Type of pottery. Originally produced in Faenza, Italy, sixteenth century ( hence the name) Also made in France - so is the French term for earthenware. Tin glazed earthenware of a buff or pale red colour glazed white to give an appearance of porcelain. Sometimes the name for architectural pottery. Highly decorated. Similar to majolica.

FALL Dialect. To drop. "Dunna fall eat what ever they dust!"

FAMLY Many potbanks employed famly. Mum, dad, aunties, uncles and kids for generations.

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


FANG Dialect. "Fang olt on this, wut?" Excuse me, would you be so kind as to hold this for me please?

FARM IN A BITE Dialect. Messing about. Not getting it done. Faffing. Procrastination. "Wot at farm in a bite at, duck?"

FASSEN FOSSON FOST Dialect meaning "Fasten the first one first." Logical! May apply to shoe laces I suppose.

FAST FIRE No such thing in the days of the Potteries Bottle Oven.  But today with gas fired tunnel kilns the firing cycle can be vastly reduced, particularly glost fired flatware.

FAT CLAY Material. Component of pottery body recipe. A very plastic clay which moulds and forms very easily. It is easy to work and manipulate but it can become too sticky to handle. The opposite is lean clay.

FAT OIL Material used during the freehand painting of pottery, onglaze. A substance based on, and obtained from, pure turpentine in the form of a thick oil. It is mixed with aniseed oil or clove oil to act as a carrier for decoration materials such as finely ground colourful glass metal oxides or gold.

Small sweet dish in bone china freehand painted by Millie Woolliscroft

FAULTY WARE The description or classification of the quality of pottery ware - the seven grades of pottery quality:
  • EXTRA BEST - Better than best quality. First first quality? But still not perfect perfect - see BEST.
  • 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!
Also note this additional description of faulty pot: CRACK CRACKED and SOUND CRACKED Pottery which was found to be cracked after its glost firing was usually scrapped as useless. It was described as LUMP or PITCHER and usually sent to the shraff tip. However, some entrepreneurs in the industry were able to make money from selling cracked pottery - depending on how cracked it really was! Here, to explain is a quote from Brian Milner. He was one of those entrepreneurs in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. "We used to buy China teacups from Ridgways. These were termed "crack cracked" and "sound cracked". I am not kidding. They were [packed] 40 dozen in a teachest and we used to buy about 12 chests every 2 weeks. We would sound every one of the "crack cracked" and find a lot of sound ones which we used to decorate and we were still able to sell the really cracked to market men."

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FEATHERS Brickwork in the base of the bottle oven, forming the flues.

FEATHERING Glazing fault caused by devitrification. Can be avoided by rapid cooing of the glost fire once the peak temperature has been achieved and the glaze has matured. Also: "All quarters should be kept level, for if one portion of the oven is firing and the other is fired up feathering of the glaze will ensue, especially in the case of some fuels." From:  PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THE MANUFACTURE OF POTTERY by John Gater, Consultant Potter, 1921

FEATHERING Drawing a feather across slip-trailed ware for decorative purposes. Similar effect, just about, as feather combing

FEATHER COMBING Decorating technique where a soft, fine pointed tool is drawn through adjacent contrasting-coloured bands of liquid slip applied to a damp clay surface. 

FELSPAR (not feldsparSpode trade mark. A brand of pottery. A particular body recipe. Can also be confused with FELDSPAR - see below.

FELDSPAR - sometimes also spelled FELSPAR Component of pottery body recipe. Naturally occurring silicate. Mineral created by the weathering of granite. Used as a high temperature flux in pottery body recipes. A purer flux than Cornish Stone.

FELT Equipment. Decorating department. Material used in the tissue printing process as a soft 'buffer' between the hard roller on the printing press, and the delicate paper tissue resting on the engraved copper plate, below it.

Printer  -  Wedgwood 1970 
Photographed by the author using a Kodak Instamatic
at the age of sixteen, when he was a management trainee. 
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: 1970

FEND Dialect.  "Fend for yourself".  Take care of yourself.

FETTLE or FETTLING Process. Potting department. Clay end. Removing rough edges and seams from recently cast clay ware. The seams appear on the clay piece when it has been removed from the mould. The newer the mould the less of a seam is created. Small tools such as hacksaw blades, thin metal blades shaped like a kidney and wet natural sponges are used.

FETTLER or 'FETTLER AND SPONGER' Occupation. Potting department. Clay end. Male or female who uses a variety of  little tools (mostly hand made, by themselves) to remove the rough seams and edges left on the clay piece after it has been made by casting in a mould.

FETTLING AND SPONGING Process. The complete removal of unwanted clay from a piece. The process of casting leaves a small seam mark in the clay where the two mould halves meet. A Fettler & Sponger uses a range of small tools including oval-shaped flexible tin blades, natural sponges and shaped sponges on sticks to get into all corners of the pieces and to smooth the clay.

FEYTHER Dialect. Dad.

FIGUIERS GOLD PURPLE Material used during the process. Decorating end. Tin - gold colour, produced by a dry method. Used for porcelain decoration.

FIGURES, FIGURES and FIGURINES This can be a bit confusing. Here are two types of figures
  1. Figures is the word used by potters such as Wedgwood for the name of the applied 3D clay decoration, particularly on their Japser wares. 
  2. Figures and figurines are the interchangeable terms used by potters such as Royal Doulton or Coalport for their cast clay, classic ladies. 

FIGURE The name used, for example by Wedgwood for the 3D sprig decoration applied in relief to the surface of a clay pot before firing. May be peculiar to Josiah Wedgwood.

FIGUREMAKER Occupation. The name used, for example by Wedgwood in their potting department. Person (male or female) who makes sprig decorations prior to use by the ornamenter. 

FIGUREMAKING Process. Potting department at Wedgwood. Clay end. Reliefs or sprigs which some styles of pottery are made in small plaster or porous fired ceramic moulds. A small quantity of clay is placed in the mould and it is firmly pressed into it to ensure that every tiny detail is created in the clay. Whilst the clay is still damp, the figure maker uses gentle pressure from a spatula to ease the clay out of the mould without distorting it or losing any of the detail.

Jasper figure making at Wedgwood, Barlaston, England 

Figure Making
From Wedgwood Series
22 postcards displaying pottery manufacture
at Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd.
Etruria Works, Stoke-on-Trent
early 20th Century

FIGURE MOULD The mould, created in ether plaster of Paris or a very porous earthenware-type body, from which figures or ornaments are created before being applied to the clay piece for decoration. For example by Wedgwood.

FIGURE PAINTER Occupation at potteries such as Royal Doulton and Coalport. Person who free-hand paints pottery figures with metal oxides prior to firing in a kiln to create realistic colouring of the figure. The Royal Doulton factory of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, was famous for it figures. 

Royal Doulton Figure - Balloon Lady

Royal Doulton Figure/Figurine Making

FIGURINE Small ornamental figure or statuette. Another name for figure.

FILLER Component of pottery body recipe. Un-named but usually silica sand or flint.

FILTER CLOTH Equipment. Slip house.  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.

FILTER PRESS Equipment. Slip house. 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.  The 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.

Filter Press

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FINE FIRECLAY Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. A particular recipe of blended ball clays and grog to create a relatively fine, porous yet strong, clay used for the manufacturer of heavy sanitaryware.

FINESTONE Vitreous, opaque, extremely strong domestic pottery (exclusive to Spode) developed from Stone China. It has a high proportion of Alumina in the body recipe.

FINISHED WAREHOUSE Department in a potbank. Storage in stillages before packing and despatch. Also the department which takes product from the glost kiln and inspects it, polishes it (if required) and passes it to storage.

FINISHED SELECTOR Occupation. Finished warehouse. Men or women who closely inspect the fired piece for faults. Some faulty product can be repaired and re-fired. Other faulty products may be too bad and need to be thrown away as pitchers or lump.

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

FIRE and FIRING Process at the heart of ceramics and making pots. A time/temperature process. Applying high temperature over a period of time to convert soft and fragile raw clay into a hard and brittle ceramic material. Firing also used to mature glaze. The conversion of clay to pot by fire.

FIRING A BOTTLE OVEN Firing an updraught oven, a downdraught oven or a muffle kiln involved three main procedures:
  1. Placing
  2. Firing
  3. Drawing
The process of firing a bottle oven was extremely inefficient. According to the British Pottery Manufacturers Federation, in Pottery Ovens Fuels and Firing published in 1937, '50% of the fuel consumed in an updraught oven will produce heat which is unavailable for firing purposes and is… lost in the exhaust gases.' 
The article also stated that the total heat absorbed by the oven structure itself, brickwork and ironwork, was 36% and the heat left over for firing both saggars and ware was just 11%. Although it was the traditional firing method used for centuries the bottle oven was wasteful of fuel and other resources.

FIREBARS Part of a bottle oven. Stout iron bars found in the bottom of the firemouth. Used to support the burning coals but sufficiently well-spaced to allow ash to fall through into the ashpit below.

FIREBED Part of a bottle oven. The seat of the fire. Burning coal on the firebars.

FIREBOX Part of a bottle oven. Another name for firemouth or mouth

FIREBRICKS Part of a bottle oven. Heat resistant refractory bricks made from fireclay and used in the construction of the firing chamber of the bottle oven. Various shapes of firebrick were manufactured by specialist producers. Different names were given for the different shapes of brick. Eg: Oven bottoms, flatbacks, arch bricks, bull heads, split, wristers, knuckles, bag bricks.

Standard Firebrick Shapes

FIRECLAY Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. The Belfast sink is manufactured from a fireclay body recipe. Urinals and mortuary slabs were also made from this sanitary material. Refractory buff coloured clay body with a white vitreous enamelled surface and fine to a very high temperature. It is thick and very strong and will withstand rough usage. Very large pieces can be made in this ware. 
Why did they put sawdust in the fire clay body during manufacture? Three reasons: 
  1. It helps to fire the thick walled pottery body from within. 
  2. It introduces a controlled amount of porosity to improve the thermal insulation of the fired body. 
  3. It helps during cutting and masoning fireclay items such as urinal back slabs. 
Similar techniques are employed in brick making. At Twyfords Fireclay factory in Cliffe Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, England, sawdust was purchased in 20 ton lots from a joinery firm in Liverpool.

FIRECLAY Material. Naturally occuring clay associated with coal measures in central Scotland, Stourbridge in the English Midlands and in Stoke-on-Trent. Refractory and resistant to high temperatures.

FIRECLAY MUFFLE OVEN A type of bottle oven used for firing fireclay bathroom and kitchen products. Fireclay products for use in bathrooms and kitchens are very large and very heavy! A fireclay bath for instance needed to be hauled around the factory by a team of men with trolleys, ropes and pulleys. These huge pottery products could not, therefore, be fired in a conventional bottle oven using saggars to protect them from the flames and products of combustion of the coal. No saggar was big enough! More here>

FIRED SHRINKAGE As a clay is fired it shrinks more and more to a point of maximum shrinkage. Fired shrinkage (shrinkage from dry to fired) is a comparative indicator of the degree of vitrification. If fired shrinkages are measured over a range of temperatures for a body it is possible to create a graph to get a visual representation of the body's maturing range. There is no definate measure of how much a clay should shrink when fired - it depends on the recipe. It is common for whitewares to shrink 7-8% during firing, vitreous porcelains more than 10%.  Stonewares might shrink 5-6%, earthenwares 3-4% or less. Some special purpose sintered bodies have very low shrinkages (almost zero).

FIRED STRENGTH A measurement of the clay's strength after firing The test is sometimes called MOR or modulus of rupture. This is also known simply as tensile strength (because the point of failure is always where the sample is under most tension). Ceramics perform much better under compressive strength than they do when stressed flexurally. Compressive testing is more common in the structural ceramics industry.

FIRECRACK Pottery body fault. Pottery can become firecracked by a variety of circumstances arising during the manufacturing process. It usually results from uneven stresses in drying, or from careless placing in the oven. A firecrack can be identified by the glaze running into the crack.

FIREDOOR Part of a bottle oven.

Firedoors open on a bottle oven being fired

FIREHOLE Part of a bottle oven. Same as firemouth. See below

FIREMAN Occupation. Probably the most responsible job on the potbank. He controlled and supervised the firing of the bottle oven. He took over the completion of the firing from the sitter up after around 20 hours.

 "Our fireman was a red eyed, bloody-minded, unshaven, uncouth old drunk who could fire ovens as perfectly as the baker. On the night in question he lay down on 20 tons of best cobbles, freshly delivered from Florence Colliery, and died." From FIRING THE BISCUIT BOTTLE OVEN By John A T Duncan FFARCS. More here>

"It was the fireman who knew how his oven worked and he together with the cod placer decided what went where in the oven. The fireman had to know where things were because prevailing wind and atmospheric changes played havoc with various firemouths and draughts which came in from all directions upset the controls of the oven in all sorts of ways. The fireman had the ultimate responsibility of anything up to a whole weeks output. [He stayed with the oven.] The cod placer went home each night! Many thanks to Alan Hopwood of Stoke-on-Trent for this contribution to the Potbank Dictionary. March 2020. 


FIREMOUTHS Part of a bottle oven. The special openings around the base of the firing chamber in which the fires are lumped, kindled and baited.

FIRING Process. At it most basic level, firing is the process of heating clay (or recipe of clays and minerals) to a temperature sufficient to fuse the particles together.  Heat treatment of ceramics in an oven to mature the clay body or glazed biscuit ware. Irreversible - permanent physical and chemical changes take place in the pottery during firing.

FIRING CHAMBER Part of a bottle oven. Where pottery is fired. The oven itself.

FIRING CYCLE The time taken from the start of the firing process to the finish and cooling.

FIRING RANGE The best range of temperatures at which a particular pottery body recipe will achieve its best fire.

FIRING SCHEDULE  An often-overlooked aspect of the ceramic process and yet is very important, since it relates so directly to glaze quality and body maturity. The rate of rise of the temperature in the kiln, the soaking time and the cooling off. When firing is very fast, optimisation of every stage of the fire is critical. In slower firing the need to plan and adhere to firing schedules is less. The thermal history to which ware is exposed in a tunnel kilns is controlled by the speed of the ware through the kiln and control of the heat and draft in various parts of the tunnel.

FIRING TEMPERATURE Typical ranges of temperature for ceramics in Degrees Celcius:
700 - 850     Decorating firing of pottery
900 - 1100   Building bricks
1050 - 1100 Glost firing of pottery
1100 - 1150 Engineering bricks
1100 - 1150 Earthenware biscuit
1100 - 1200  Salt-glazed pipes
1200 - 1250 China biscuit
1200 - 1400 Fireclay refractories
1300 - 1400 Hard porcelain
1400 - 1450 Silica refractories
1550 - 1750 Basic refractories

FIRING ZONE The hottest part of a continuous tunnel oven in which the pottery piece is fired at the maximum temperature.

FIRK Dialect. Probe or poke a pile of bits and pieces, usually with a stick or other tool.

FIRKIN A BITE Dialect. Messing about or poking and probing. "Stop firkin a bite an get summat done, wut?"

FIRKLE Dialect. Similar to FIRK, but perhaps a little more personal.

FIRST Best. Good ware. Saleable at best quality. But there is no such thing as a perfect pot since every piece will have some sort of blemish. Always. Pottery is, after all, a creation using Mother Earth, and we know how fickle she can be.

FIRTLE Dialect. Corruption of FIRKLE and similar to FIRK, but perhaps a little more personal.

FISSES Dialect. Fists.

FISH CRACKS Pottery fault. Found on the edges of flatware. Appearing as tiny cracks in the dry clay surface and are so called because they look like fish bones on a spine. Caused by poor or careless fettling of the dry clay plate.

FITTER Occupation. Member of a team with the sole role of keeping the machines and equipment on potbank in working order. Also installs new machinery.

FITTING SHOP Department or area within a potbank where all the engineering aspects of the potbank are decided upon, worked upon and stored.

Fitting shop Burgess and Leigh, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent 1975
Fitting shop
Burgess and Leigh, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: 1975

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FLABBY CAST Pottery fault found during pottery casting. The piece appears good when it is first taken from the mould but it subsequently deforms under its own weight. Caused by a thixotropic effect.

FLAMBE Decorative technique mastered by Royal Doulton Company. Deep red glaze colour created using colloidal copper in the glaze recipe and firing in a reducing atmosphere. Sang de boeuf is a variation of this effect.

FLASH Pottery fault. Another name for casting spot.

FLASHING Glaze fault. Modern glazes which are specialist and technical require careful handling and treatment during processing if flashing is to be avoided.

FLASHING Pottery body fault, sometimes found on cast pottery. Discoloured spot. Occurs where the stream of casting slip first hits the plaster of Paris mould during the casting process. Results from the localised orientation of the plate-like particles of clay in the liquid pottery body. Sometimes called casting spot. 

FLASHENHOFEN German bottle oven. Not used very often in Stoke.

FLATBACKS Name of a particular sized firebrick used in bottle oven construction. About 2 x 5 x 9 inches. Used in building firemouths and flues.

FLATBACK Type and style of Staffordshire pottery figure. Cheap earthenware ornaments modelled only on the front and slim enough to fit the narrowest shelf. Flatback figures were made without decoration on the back, as they were usually placed against a wall or chimney breast in houses to add colour.

Potbank Dictionary
Staffordshire Flatback Figures

FLAT GILDING Opposite  to raised gilding. Decorating department. Application of gold decoration to a pot. Usually an elaborate decoration to the glazed pot.

FLAT KNOCKING Process. Biscuit Warehouse. (Early 20th Century) Biscuit china ware which has just come out of the bottle oven has to cleared of the support materials - including crushed flint.  This material is highly dangerous and was a major cause of Potters Rot. Knocking the flint from the ware was called 'flat knocking'. In the 1920s a new machine was designed which rocked ware back and forth, quickly, till the powder dropped off into the 'flint ark'.

FLAT MAKING Process. Clay end. Potting department.  Making flatware by a flatware maker in the flat shop.

FLAT PRESSER Occupation, Clay end. Person, usually a man because it was hard, manual work, who created flatware such plates or flat dishes. He pressed a slab (or batt) of thin plastic clay onto the top of a plaster of Paris mould. The mould formed the top side of the flatware while the flat presser created the underside using his hands and small, shaped, profile tools made from various materials, including bone or plaster of Paris.

FLAT SHOP Workshop in the potting department where flatware is made - plates, saucers.

FLATTED Process. Decorating dept. Painting on ware, obtained with a broad flat wash.

FLATWARE Plates, saucers, flat dishes. Shallow articles. Actually flat ware (apart from the rim!) Usually made on a plaster mould fixed to a revolving jigger. The mould forms the face to the piece. The back of the piece is formed by the metal profile tool which is lowered onto the clay bat on the mould.

FLED Pottery fault.  A piece of pottery is said to have fled when it has burst or cracked, but without being subject to impact. The same as dunted.

FLINT Component of pottery body recipe. Actually nodular chalcedonic silica. SiO2. A pure silica. Found as pebbles in chalk deposits. In the UK found near the coast in Kent, England. Used in some pottery recipes (earthenware and tile bodies particularly) but needs to be calcined, crushed and ground into a fine powder. Flints in their raw state are almost impossible to crush and grind. It is only after calcination that the flint pebbles becomes white and friable. 

Flint has been used in earthenware recipes from the 18th Century onward when it replaced sand (also silica) thereby improving the strength and whiteness of pottery bodies, and at the same time controlling expansion and contraction.

"Flint is the material that in earthenware may be regarded as the bone and muscle of the human frame, giving strength to the entire fabric and is the one that prevents undue contraction and warping. It is thus an antidote to crazing." From:  PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THE MANUFACTURE OF POTTERY by John Gater, Consultant Potter, 1921

FLINT ARC Equipment. Biscuit Warehouse. (Early 20th Century) Storage for used flint powder. Biscuit china ware, which has just come out of the bottle oven, has to cleared of the support materials - including crushed flint.  This material is highly dangerous and was a major cause of Potters Rot. Knocking the flint from the ware was called flat knocking. In the 1920s a new machine was designed which rocked ware back and forth, quickly, until the powder dropped off into the flint ark.

FLINT KILN A calcining kiln.  Its purpose is to prepare (make friable through heat) flint, used in pottery bodies. Once calcined, the material can be crushed to a fine powder suitable for the pottery body. When they are in their raw state, flint pebbles are impossible to crush as they are too hard but if they are burnt or calcined they become brittle and can be powdered with ease. Flint occurs as hard, black/grey pebbles within Cretaceous Chalk beds. When calcined above 1000ºC crystalline water is driven off, shattering the pebbles and make them easier to grind. More about pottery bottle ovens and kilns  here>

Flint calcining kiln
Milvale Street, Middleport, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent
1 x calcining kiln, double chambered, within
large rectangular bottle-shaped structure. 
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: February 2022

FLINT MILL  A mill that ground flint for use in the pottery industry.

A  mill which ground flint, after calcination, for the pottery industry

FLIRT EAT Dialect. Flick it or throw it away.

FLEUR TEAT French for flick it. ;) See above.

FLIT Dialect. "Moo vin ice." Usually requires a professional removals company, or a man-with-a-van.

FLOATING Decorating fault. Displacement of the decorative pattern once it has been applied to the pot. Caused by grease, moisture or dirt on the piece before the pattern is applied.

FLOCCULATE The process of adding an acidic (usually) substance (flocculant) which gives clay particles in slip opposite electrical charges, causing them to attract one-another (to flock together) - a disadvantage in a casting slip but a great advantage in a claybody or a decorating slip.  Usually only clay bodies high in kaolin need to be flocculated by adding ½ of 1% (of dry batch weight) epsom salts.  Flocculation also often used to thicken a glaze to help keep it in suspension and to improve application properties.

FLOCCULANT Material. Gives clay particles in slip opposite electrical charges, causing them to attract one another.  Creates a 'thicker' slip.

FLOW BLUE Type of applied decoration. Deep blue pattern. Cobalt blue. Underglaze pottery printed. The blue colour tends to flow into the glaze during firing giving a blurred or fuzzy effect. Can be created by using flow powder which is deposited in the saggar before firing. According to William Evans writing in 1846 in The Art Of Potting the introduction of flow blue is described as 'recent.'

Flow blue

FLOW POWDER A chemical and mineral mixture which creates chlorine at glost firing temperatures which in turn creates an micro atmosphere in the saggar to cause blue underglaze decoration to 'flow.'  "Too much flow powder should be not be mixed at one time, it looses its strength." From:  PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THE MANUFACTURE OF POTTERY by John Gater, Consultant Potter, 1921

FLOWER MAKER Occupation. Potting department. In 2016 Gladstone Pottery Museum, in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, is the only place in The Potteries where bone china flowers are made. See flower making, below.

FLOWER MAKERS ASSEMBLER Occupation. Potting department. Works with the flower maker.

FLOWER MAKING Process. Highly skilled and respected craft in the pottery industry. Best explained here by the expert demonstrator, Rita Floyd (as seen om The Great Pottery Throwdown, UK Channel 4, January 2021) at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.

Rita Floyd explains the craft 
and talks about her life as a flower maker

Close up flower making
with Rita Floyd at Gladstone Pottery Museum
Movie by Phil Rowley, volunteer at the Museum

Rita Floyd demonstrating her craft of flower making
Gladstone Pottery Museum
Movie by Phil Rowley, volunteer at the Museum

Bone china flowers were extremely popular in Victorian times when hand-made flowers were used as brooches, in posy pots, bowls and vases.

Aynsley - bowl of bone china flowers

Gladstone Pottery Museum
Bone china brooches 1975
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection

Also: an excellent site which describes flower making here>

FLOWER PAINTING Process. Realistic free-hand painting decoration, with metal oxide powder colours, applied directly with a pencil (brush) to twice-fired, glazed bone china flowers. Best explained here by Carol Everall, the expert demonstrator at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent.

Carol Everall explains the craft 
and talks about her life as a flower painter and free hand paintress

FLUES Part of a bottle oven. A system of brick channels found underneath the domed floor of an updraught bottle oven. Flues connect the hot gases from the fire in the oven's firemouths to the central well hole and up through the setting of the oven towards its crown and up through the chimney. (The middle flue (going directly from the firemouth to the well hole was built 4 bricks high. The cross flues were 3 bricks high.) The number of flues vary depend on the experience and  ideas of the kiln builder and on the specification of the owner (usually between three and five). The more flues the better in the oven bottom, provided that the construction is not weakened. A second type of flue may also be present if the bottle oven is a downdraught type. In this case downdraught flues carry exhaust gases down and away from the firing chamber to be exhausted either in a separate tall chimney or outside of the firing chamber.

FLUTED EDGE c.f. scallop edge

FLUX Material. A chemical or mineral which lowers the fusion point of a body or glaze. Eg: alkalis in clay bodies or borax in glaze. Lowers the melting point of silica in the ceramic body. Flux melts and flows during firing and during cooling sets to cement the grains of the body.

FLYING OFF Problem with incorrectly formulated wad. If not enough sand is present in the wad clay body recipe it may fly off during the firing process and spoil the ware contained within the saggar.

FOB OFF Dialect. To give a bit of a 'story' or 'fib' to try to get a person to give up and go away.

FOE GREY NO Dialect. Ford Green Hall, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent.

FOE IN BITS Dialect. The particular state of an item, article or thing which is either well used or very old and is therefore coming apart. "That gansy is foe in bits, best gerra a new un!" or "That owd saggar is foe in bits, shuv eat ont shord ruck"  Many thanks go to Stewart Boulton for sending me this term July 2019

A small shord ruck of owd saggars foe in bits
Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: May 2019

FOE STAITH Dialect. False teeth.

FOGGY Dialect. First or fost. "Bags eye goo foggy."

FOOT On the end of a leg. (Ha ha!) Also the base of a teacup, teapot, coffee pot, plate, dish, creamer, jug, coffee can, coffee cup, saucer, etc.

FOOT BOW GRIND Dialect. Where they play football with a bow.

FOOT PROFILE Tool. Equipment. Small hand held former used to create the foot shape of a clay piece - perhaps the foot of a large dish.

FOOT RIM AND RING Particular type of decoration to the edge of pottery.

FOOT RING The foot ring lifts the piece off the table and enables glazing all of the bottom. While foot rings add extra effort to the finishing stage during manufacture, they also make it easier to glaze the ware (articles can be dipped and quickly sponged to remove the glaze). Only shallow foot rings are possible in machine made items but in hand-made deeper rings can be created.

FOOT WIPER Occupation. Ovens department. Dipping house.  "I was a foot wiper on Woods and the job involved wiping the dried glaze from that ring on the bottom of the teapot and then placing the completed ware on boards ready to go on the kiln.  The skill, with this job, was not to smudge the [dipped] teapot as you picked it up. I also had to foot wipe flat ware and cups. Now, flat ware was a pain in the a*** unless you had hands like shovels!"   This potbank occupation was supplied courtesy of Gary Beech, 05 March 2016. Thanks Gary!



Ford Green Hall, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent.
The author of this Potbank Dictionary, and his wife (the curator), had the privilege of living here for almost 4 years before the catastrophic flood of  Sunday morning 23rd August 1987. They were the last people ever to live in the hall.

Ford Green Hall, Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent
The author of this Potbank Dictionary lived here
for a short time in the 1980s

FORE BUNG The last bung of saggars to be set in before the oven entrance (wicket) before the clammins were bricked up and sealed with clay and sand.

FORNO A BOTTIGLIA Italian bottle oven.

FOST Dialect. First. See foggy.

FOUR BOUTEILLE French bottle oven.

FRANKED Dialect. Perhaps a big night out meant you ignored the alarm clock, over slept, and were late for work! Also jiggered up."Sorry arm late, arm franked." So, franked came from clocking on late, your card was franked showing your lateness.

FRAZED Dodgy workmanship.

FRAME FILLER Occupation. Ovens department. Male apprentice Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker, and worked alongside him. This apprentice flattened a mass of saggar marl to produce a large rectangle of clay on a special bench, edges with a shallow frame of metal, about 3/4 " deep. Slices of saggar marl clay were taken from the frame to wrap around the side of a drum (the mould) to make the side of a saggar.

FREEHAND PAINTING Process. Decorating department. Hand painting of ware using a guide piece or a sketch as a pattern. Highly skilled and requires many years of training.

FREEHAND PAINTRESS Occupation. Decorating department. The person, a girl or lady, who applies finely ground and unfired enamel colour suspended in fat oil and turps onto a pot in a decorative fashion. (A freehand painter would be the male of the species!)

FRIGGLING Dialect. Troublesome. Naughty, even.

1) Used in glazes and porcelain enamel. Used to reduce the melting point of a glaze. Ceramic materials blended together then heated, melted and fused to form a molten glass which is quenched in water to become small granulated friable particles. These are then milled to a powder for use in porcelain enamels, and fritted glazes.

2) Used in some porcelain body recipes. For example Nantgarw Porcelain, of south Wales. "Nantgarw 'frit' was the secret component for William Billingsley’s soft paste porcelain and what gives Nantgarw porcelain its strength, pure white colour and exceptional translucency. Effectively an artificial stone, Nantgarw frit performs the same role as petuntse or china stone in hard paste porcelain and is made from bone ash and two other naturally occurring ingredients. It is so hard (harder than carborundums and carbides) that it can grind the steel linings of industrial ballmills.'  Description courtesy of Nantgarw Chinaworks Museum here>

FRITTENED Dialect. Frightened. But only a bit (see below).

FRITTENED DEATH Dialect. Very frightened.

FRITTED GLAZE Type of glaze. Glaze containing frit. Frits are important components of most ceramic glazes. A frit is a type of glass that predominantly consists of silica, diboron trioxide, and soda. Frits can also be used alone in low temperature glazes, such as Raku and Majolica.

FRITTING Process used in glaze manufacture. Large fritting plants create frit in a continuous process. The components of the frit are mixed together and then heated to high temperature until they melt together. The resultant hot liquid is poured off into cold water to rapidly cool it causing it to shatter into small chunks/particles which can then be ground down before use in the glaze recipe.

The process of fritting from "A descriptive account of The Potteries (illustrated) 1893 advertising and trade journal. Page 20. Messrs. Harrison and Son, Phoenix Chemical Works, Hanley"

"The process of fritting (ie. of melting into glass or fritt the ingredients of the glaze) is very interesting. 

The furnace or fritt kiln is constructed of fire brick bound or bunted together with huge iron castings to prevent its destruction by the intense heat. The floor of the kiln consists of two inclined planes meeting in the centre, and arched over with fire brick. Upon this floor the ingredients of the fritt (which in this stage appear in a white powder) are shovelled through holes in the arch forming the roof of the kiln. The flame from the furnace plays over these materials for several hours till the whole is melted, and the fritt runs to the bottom of the kiln, where it remains in a molten state till ready to be drawn.
As the plug is removed the melted fritt, dazzling in its brightness, and giving off intense heat, runs a river of fire into a huge iron receptacle, where water is immediately poured upon it to cool and break up the mass into fragments ready for grinding. Those who have seen the running off of a furnace of pig iron will have a fair idea of the operation of fritting, only for the latter the heat is more intense. That this is so may be believed when we state that the flame of this furnace is over seventy foot long, and that day and night, without intermission the week through, the roaring, tearing flame beats upon the successive lots of fritt as they are passed through the furnace. 

The fritt, now ready for grinding, appears in blocks of glass, clear and transparent, of a slightly bluish tinge, but before it can be used by the potter it must be ground finer than the finest wheat flour."  Click here for the original published account.

FRIZZLE Decorating fault. Develops during firing pots decorated with lithos. If the litho covercoat burns away too rapidly in the early stages of the enamel fire the coloured pattern embedded in the covercoat is liable to crack and curl up. The problem is usually prevented by ensuring the rate of increase in temperature between 200 and 400 degrees C is less than 1 degree per minute.

FROG Equipment. Tool. Scrapping tool, the shape of a traditional catapault used in dish making.

FROG The hollow in the back of a house brick which had been manufactured by dust pressing.

FROZZEN CLAY  Frozen clay. A difficulty found in pugged or wedged clay in the winter period rendering the clay unusable.  When clay freezes, the water molecules become detached from the clay particles such that when the clay thaws it becomes sloppy and unusable. Sometimes, depending on the body recipe, the clay can be rescued by more wedging to return it to a usable condition.

FROZZY Dialect. Frosty.

FUDDLING CUP Drinking vessel used for amusement. The vessel has interconnecting bowls. Used to test the skill of the drinker in discerning different types of liquor. Turns what might appear a short drink into a long one!

FUEL BED Part of a bottle oven. In the oven mouth.  Where the coal burns.

FUFFLE Dialect. Fuss, fussing.  Same as Ker-fuffle, but without the ker.

FUNT Dialect. Found. "Ast funt eat, duck?" Have you found it darling? or "Arve just funt ite abite eat."

FULLOCK Dialect.  All of a rush! "I'm in a fullock".

FULLY TRACED Decoration. A slender gold free-hand painted onto the handle of a teacup, jug, teapot or other holloware. (Sometimes also known as just traced.)
Proper full traced may also have a thin line of red outlining the line of gold. One needs to be specific when describing how pottery is decorated. Also see half traced - the trace only goes half way - obviously - but

FURINNER Dialect. Someone from abroad.

FURK Dialect. Curiosity killed the cat, perhaps. Inquisitiveness. Getting in holes or corners.

FUSION Melting or blending.

FUSSER Occupation. Potting department. Man or woman who works with and alongside a cup jolleyer. He removes dried cups from the mould, inspects them and places them on a ware board prior to being carried away into the greenhouse. Also another skill of the fusser was looking after thrown work before it went to turner.

FUT BOW Dialect. Football.  Either the game or the ball with which it is played.

FUT BOW GRIND Dialect Football ground.

FUTTY Dialect. Football ... the game of

Glaze fault. Looks a bit like orange peel. Not the cystal clear and very glossy glaze which it should be.  May be caused by over-thick glazing, or a poor materials recipe, or perhaps underfired.

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