GADROON  Form of decoration in the clay piece usually around its edge. Convex curves or inverted fluting.

GAFFER Occupation. Boss. The supervisor, or foreman, or department manager, or works manager, or owner. In short - he who must be obeyed - the boss.

The gaffer - guess which he is!
Twyfords, Stoke on Trent, England. 1921

GALENA Material. Lead sulphide. Naturally occurring ore sometimes known as 'blue lead.' When ground to a powder and fired to about 950C it melts and fuses to form a shiny clear glaze on the surface of the pot.

GALLEYWARE Early name for English Delftware. Also old English name for simple clayware.

GANISTER or GANNISTER Clay. Fireclay. Also coal found with ganister clay extracted by miner farmers (Derbyshire, 17th Century)

GANZY or GANSEY Dialect. Cardy. Jumper, sometimes with buttons, sometimes without. Woollen. Warm. Maybe from Guernsey. Definitely from Jersey! Cold weather essential.

GAPPERS and KISSERS Opposites. Faulty products, mainly flatware (plates). Words used to describe distorted plates as seen in a bung, usually in the biscuit state, probably before selection (inspection). Gappers is used when the distortion makes rims of plates separate from each other in the bung to create an obvious gap. Kissers is used when the distortion makes the rims of the plates touch. These words are possibly peculiar to the Steelite, and possibly the Royal Doulton, pottery factories. Many thanks go to David Tabbernor for sending me these. October 2019

GARDEN FESTIVAL  also known as the GARDEENFEST. The 1986 National Garden Festival, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent.

GARL Secretion in the corner of your eye.

GAUMED-UP  Dialect. Covered in dirt.

GAWP or GAUP Dialect. Stare at somebody for a long time. So long it starts being rude.

GELLATINE (Actually Gelatin) Material used during the process. In bat pronting the transferers pad was made from gelatin. In Murray Curvex printing the printing 'bomb' was originally made from gelatin.

Trained in painting by Ford Madox Brown, the most important and individual artist to be associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A painter, etcher and designer of stained glass and ceramics, George Woolliscroft-Rhead belonged to the mainstream of the Arts and Crafts movement. He was the elder brother of Frederick and Louis Rhead with whom he collaborated as an illustrator. George Woolliscroft-Rhead learned the technique of etching under the tutelage of Alphonse Legros and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1883. In later years he taught at Putney School of Art from 1896 and subsequently became director of Southwark Polytechnic Institute.

GERROFF Dialect. "What? You must be joking!"

GETS YANKLES Dialect. Walking through through thick snow or a muddy field "Gets yankles!" (Your ankles.)

GETTING Process. Obtaining or winning clay from the ball clay mines of Dorset and Devon, England.

GETTING IN Process in decorating department. Part of engraving copper plates for transfer printing. Once an engraver prepared his virgin copper plate with an outline of the pattern to be engraved he would then be ready to begin 'getting in' on the copper. Starting to engrave with his graver or burin to make the first v-shaped cut line.  As was heard on a potbank - 'getty nin'. 

GILDED Decorated by gilding. Also known as gilt.

GILDER Occupation. Decorating department. Pottery decorator who applies gold decoration to the glazed piece. The decoration may be a simple edge line or a more complex decorative pattern. The decoration is applied with a fine brush called a pencil. Gilders were also the people who carried out decoration called jewelling. In the 20th century the work was mainly carried out by females but in the 19th century it was almost exclusively a male job. This was often high quality skilled work and the men would be better paid than the female painters. At the Spode factory in Stoke, in the late 19th century, the male gilders were allowed to occasionally sign their work especially, for example, for exhibition pieces.

GILDER'S SHELL Equipment. Used by pottery decorators when using liquid 'best gold' or 'bright gold.' Sometimes known as a gold shell, the shape is designed so that the  excess gold (which is obviously extremely expensive) from the pencil, drains back into the central well. Made from glass and including the pencil rest.

Gilder's shell

GILDING The skilful application of gold decoration to a pot. May be an elaborate decoration or a simple line to the edge of the pot. (Not to be confused with lining which is the application of a single line of ceramic colour, or with banding which is the application of a broad band of colour to the edge of a piece). Usually by hand and usually by women. Past tense - gilt.

There are various types of gilding:
  • Best Gilding sometimes called Mercury Gilding.  Also known as solid gilding. Best quality gold is mixed with mercury. It is usually applied to bone china. It is fired at about 730°C to leave pure gold. The gold is dull in appearance when fired and needs to be burnished to produce a bright finish.
  • Honey Gilding Gold leaf was ground with honey to produce a paste. This was applied to the pot which was then fired at a low temperature. The method, rarely used today, was unsatisfactory as the finish was dull and the gold wore off with handling.
  • Acid Gilding This method is used primarily on bone china. The whole of the piece is masked except for the area to be decorated. Then the item of ware is dipped in acid which removes the glaze on any unprotected areas. This produces a relief effect. After drying best gold is applied with the affected areas.
  • Raised Gilding In this technique, certain areas are raised above the general level of the ware by the application of a paste which hardens during a low temperature fire to produce an elevated decoration. This is then covered with best gold. The technique may involve multiple firings.
  • Liquid Gold  This method was introduced in the 1850s. The gold is applied as a liquid suspension and is painted onto the pieces. This is usually done on the gilder’s wheel. When it comes from the kiln, the gold is already bright and needs no burnishing.

Gilders shell
Photo: source unknown  Date: unknown

GILT Gilded. Golden.

GINNETTING Process. Finished warehouse. Knocking the pip or stilt marks off the back of flatware after it has been fired. Usually women using sharpened metal tools to knock away the pips.

Girls in the glost warehouse sharpening ginneting tools
Photo: source unknown  Date: Early 1900s

GINNETTER An occupation in the finished (glost) warehouse. Usually female. Uses a ginneting tool to knock the pip or stilt marks off the back off flatware after it has been fired. Most usually called a 'sorter'.

GINNETTING MACHINE Equipment. Finished warehouse. Clever machine created to do the work of a ginnetter. Flatware (plates, saucers etc) is loaded into the machine upside down in a stack, or bung. The machine then takes one plate at a time and secures it tight between two arms. The arms spin the plate at high speed while a very sharp and tough machine tool (in a fixed position) is brought down gently onto the back of the spinning plate. The pip or stilt marks remaining on the back of the plate after firing are knocked off by the tool.  The finished plates are collected at the end of the machine and automatically re-stacked prior to being offloaded by hand and sent on to be inspected in the glost warehouse. The ginnetting machine was invented and designed by Mr Hemmings.

Ginnetting Machine
Invented by Mr Mr Hemmings
Photos: Courtesy Peter Hemmings, son of the inventor.
Facilitated by Jayne Packer. Thank you!

GIVE OVER Dialect.  Please stop!

GLADSTONE POTTERY MUSEUM.  The potters' museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent  Officially the BEST Small Visitor Attraction in England 2020. 45 years since the Royal Opening on 24 April 1975 and still winning awards.  
Gladstone Pottery Museum

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GLASSY Marble made of glass for the game of marbles.

GLAZE A very thin glassy surface or coating applied to pottery ware, the primary purposes of which include decoration and protection, and to make the piece non-porous. Basically glass. Glazes are highly variable in composition but usually comprise a mixture of ingredients that generally, but not always, mature at kiln temperatures lower than that of the pottery that it covers. Ceramic glaze raw materials generally include silica, which will be the main glass former. Various metal oxides, such as sodium, potassium and calcium, act as a flux to lower the melting temperature.

Unfired glaze, close up on sanitaryware.
Notice the 'orange peel' effect which disappears during firing
as the glaze melts and flows.

GLAZE FIT The relationship between the thermal expansion of the body and the glaze. Matching the thermal expansion of the pottery body to that of the glaze so as to prevent a glaze fault called crazing. To prevent crazing the glaze should normally be held in compression. If the glaze is expanding or contracting more than the body to which it is attached, something has to give way! Thermal expansion and contraction are not to be confused with fired shrinkage which occurs during firing.

GLAZE FIRE Process. A potter would call this the glost fire. The firing which takes place after the biscuit ware has been dipped or sprayed in glaze.

GLIDER Process. Dipping House. According to Reginald G. Haggar (in his book "Pottery through the Ages, published by Methuen in 1959) "glider is an old word for glazing"  Page 35

GLORY HOLE Sometimes called the 'rat hole.' A room, maybe a basement or a loft, where miscellaneous junk is dumped in an untidy fashion and forgotten about. Forever! Hopefully!

GLOSS Dialect meaning GLOST.

GLOST Pottery pieces which have been glazed. Adjective of glaze. When ware has been glazed and fired it is described as glost. The oven in which glazed pottery is fired is invariably called the glost oven. Glost printing implies that the pattern is transferred onto the top of the glaze, as distinct from underglaze printing, which is performed before the ware is dipped.

GLOST FIRE Process. The glaze fire. The firing after the biscuit ware has been dipped or sprayed in glaze. When glaze is fired it softens progressively as the temperature increases. Then the constituents fuse together to create the glaze surface.

GLOST HOUSE  Dipping house. Department in a potbank where biscuit pots are dipped into tubs of glaze prior to a second fire.

GLOST OVEN The oven used specifically for firing dipped, glazed ware.

GLOST PLACER Occupation. Ovens department. A glost placer is the person, usually male but could be female, who places individual dipped pieces into saggars before they are placed (or set in) the oven for firing. For a glost firing 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. A glost placer is also the name of 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 placer, his boss.

GLOST WARE Glazed ware. That is biscuit ware that has been glazed and then fired for the second time.

GLOST WAREHOUSE  The department where fired glazed ware is sorted and selected prior to either being sent for application of decoration or to the finished warehouse.

GLUT ARCH Part of a bottle oven. Sometimes just called the glut. Sometimes also called a drop arch or houster arch. The brick arch below the firemouth of a bottle oven. Allows the admission of primary air to the burning coal. Also allows the removal of clinker and ash during or after the firing.

GOB Glaze fault. Similar to a dropper. Blobs of glaze that are found on glazed pieces after firing. Caused by drops of glaze, which had accumulated on the kiln roof, finally falling off.

GOLD Material used during the process. Decoration.

  • Best gold - a suspension of gold powder in oils mixed with a flux and a mercury salt extended. This can be applied by a painting technique. From the kiln, the decoration is dull and requires burnishing to reveal the full colour.
  • Acid Gold – a form of gold decoration developed in the early 1860s by Mintons Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent. The glazed surface is first etched with diluted hydrofluoric acid prior to application of the gold. The process demands great skill and is extremely expensive.
  • Bright Gold – consists of a solution of gold sulphoresinate together with other metal resonates and a flux. Immediately after firing the gold looks bright and glossy/shiny and therefore requires no burnishing.
  • Mussel Gold – an older method of gold decoration. It was made by rubbing together gold leaf, sugar and salt, followed by washing to remove solubles.
  • Spanish Gold - this may have been peculiar to the Doulton Company of Burslem. No further details available.

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GOLD SCOURING Process. Decorating department. Another name for burnishing.

GOLD SHELL Equipment. Used by pottery decorators when using liquid 'best gold' or 'bright gold.' Sometimes known as a gilder's shell, the shape is designed so that the  excess gold (which is obviously extremely expensive) from the pencil, drains back into the central well. Made from glass and including the pencil rest.

GOLD STAMPING Process. Decoration. Applying a old decoration to a glazed piece by means of a rubber stamp.  A tad crude.

GOOD FROM OVEN Method of payment on a Potbank which ensured that the firm's owner didn't loose. In 1844 William Evans wrote "Good from Oven. A thief's instrument, a potter's curse, and a trade's scourge!" This system was open to abuse but was not finally abolished until 1964.

GOOD FROM OVEN  A payment system used in the Potteries. This system of remuneration allowed payment to workers only when goods emerged perfect from the oven. The ware passed through many hands before firing, any one of whom might have caused some imperfection – but unless the piece was faultless no one was paid. The imperfect pieces were sold as seconds and the pottery owner kept the income. This system was open to abuse by the pottery owner.  Abandoned by some of the better class firms such as Copeland and Minton in the 1870s but not finally abolished in 1964.

GOOSEGOGS  Gooseberies.

GOOSE LOW Dialect. Road sign on dangerous bends. Don't go so fast!

GOTCH A term used originally in Norfolk for a large stoneware jug with a handle.

GRACE Dialect. Keeps the wheels moving.

GRADING Process. Ovens department. Measuring the exact fired size (diameter) of flatware prior to decoration. The fired size of all pottery is not definite. Since clay shrinks during firing the finished piece can vary depending on the exact recipe of the clay body and the exact firing condition. (This is what makes pottery manufacture so exciting and so frustrating!) High end, luxury, pottery products such as bone china plates need to be graded so that the correct and exact size of litho decoration can be applied. Graded plates can be seen on the back of some pottery flatware. Wedgwood used ( uses?) a green coloured letter from a to E depending in size. C is the most common.

GRADELEY Dialect. Great! "That's rate gradeley."

GRAFTER Equipment. (Could also be a person who works hard. A grafter using a grafter, perhaps!) Ovens Dept. Saggar making.  A flat D-shaped tool called a grafter was used to slice a flat piece of saggar marl from the dump (large lump of saggar marl clay) before use.

Grafter tool used in saggar making

GRAIN Dialect. Green.

GRANITE WARE  Hard, durable, and cheap semi vitrified white earthenware, made extensively by J. & G. Meakin, Johnson Bros and other pottery firms for the American trade from about 1875. Not to be confused with the greyish mottled glazed earthenware made by Josiah Wedgwood in imitation of granite.

GRATE Part of a bottle oven. Formed by the firebars and checkers above them. An area for the burning coal.

GRATE! Dialect. Wonderful! Superb! Terrific! Smashing! Lovely! Nice!

GRAUEN Early local word for Cornish stone. See growan stone and moorstone.

GRAUNCH Potteries dialect word. Grind - as in teeth! At night, in bed, disturbing!

GRAVER Equipment. Engraving tool. Decorating shop. A small tool with V - shaped section used to engrave lines on a copper plate to create part of the decoration. Also know as the burin.  (Also the occupation?)

GRAYS A potbank - Grays Pottery  www.grayspottery.co.uk

GREAT WHEEL Equipment. Also known as a throwing wheel, string wheel or potter's wheel. 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. The wheel may also be used during the process of fettling (trimming) the excess body from dried ware and for applying incised decoration or rings of colour.

Spode's Great Wheel.
On display at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton

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GREEN Unfired. Pottery is green when it is still in the clay state but dry and hard, not soft and floppy. Before it is fired.

GREEN SPOT Pottery fault. Can be serious, particularly in the manufacture of sanitary fireclay. The green spot is large (about an inch across - 2.5 to 3 cm diameter) and of an intense colour. Main cause is the presence of copper in the raw clay or from contamination by a particle of copper.

GREEN STRENGTH Description of the mechanical strength of greenware which is unfired, dry and reasonably hard. Clays of high green strength handle well during production, thus lowering losses in handling. Porcelains often have very low green strength but stoneware and fireclay typically have high green strength. Ball clays can be added to a recipe to impart green strength. Kaolin has low green strength. Binders are also added to bodies to increase green strength. Bodies of high green strength dry slower.

GREEN HOUSE (GREY NICE) Department in a potbank. Heated room containing greenware which is constantly drying and which is ready for inspection (looking ever) and storage prior to firing.

GREENWARE Unfired ware. Dry and harder than leather hard. When it has been finally inspected it is ready for firing.

GREW DIN Dialect. Filthy and ingrained dirt.

GREY NICE Dialect. Nice and warm place under glass for growing plants. Also the department in a potbank where clay pieces are dried and looked over before the biscuit fire.

GRINDER / POLISHER  Occupation. Biscuit or Glost Warehouse.  Grinds or polishes away imperfections on biscuit or glost ware, usually as part of the rework process, using a lathe and grinding wheel. The polisher removes pin marks from back of flat ware items that won’t go through a ginetting machine.

GRINDING PAN. Machine. Sliphouse. Machine used to reduce the particle size of ceramic raw materials.

GROOD IN Dialect. Ingrained dirt. Grimed. Possibly 'grued' is a spelling of it too.

GROG Component of pottery body recipe. Filler. Pre-fired clay or coarse ceramic powder. Can be used to improve the texture or strength of a body. Also improves thermal shock resistance. Being pre-fired all the clay and firing shrinkage has already been taken out of it.

GROG Material. Sometimes of vermiculite. Used in the ovens department - tunnel ovens. The material in the channels/troughs on the tunnel/muffle kilns to seal the gap between the kiln car base and the sides of the kiln. Many thanks to David Broadhurst for this suggestion. March 2016

GROUNDED Ground layed.

GROUND COLOUR A dominant colour covering a large area of the pot. Sometimes panels forming part of the decoration were left blank, ready to receive enamel decoration of gilding later in the process. Yellow ground colour was particularly difficult to achieve but it was introduced by Meissen in 1727.

GROUND LAYING  or GROUNDLAYING  Process. Decorating department. The application of a uniform coat of colour - a solid area of colour onto glazed (glost) pottery. This is the process by which the ceramic colour, which forms part of the decoration, is laid down onto the piece before it is fired in the enamel kiln. Much more even and solid masses of colour can be obtained by this process than by aerographing

Those parts of the ware which are to be laid with colour are first covered with an 'adhesive', usually oil based, and very tacky. Powdered ceramic colour is then dabbed on to it with cotton wool. Parts of the ware which are not to be coloured are suitably protected by a resisting medium, which is afterwards washed away before the ware is fired. Groundlaying creates a very even covering. It is an expensive process and is mainly reserved for decorations upon better-class wares. Looks rich and luxurious. Also visit SPODE ABC> for information about groundlaying specific to the Spode Factory, Stoke.

Black Tonquin - ground laid
Wedgwood Bone China

GROUND LAID A pot which has been decorated using the groundlaying technique.

GROWAN CLAY Component of pottery body recipe. The word growan is found in the Cornish china clay industry to mean unevenly decomposed granite.

GROWAN STONE Component of pottery body recipe. Cornish stone.

GUBS Dialect word. Gloves!  "Arm puttin me gubs on"

GUM ARABIC Material used in slips and glazes.  Also known as Acacia gum and reduces the surface tension of liquids. "Gum Arabic is used throughout the manufacture of pottery. Mainly because it fires out easily without trace. Natural turpentine and other such oils were used for the same reasons."  See boxed cups Thanks to Alan Hopwood for the additional information January 2021

GUMP HIDER Dialect. Earliest known chemical explosive - gunpowder.

GYP or GIP or JIP A certain amount of discomfort, even pain, in the bodily part.

GYPSUM Material. A common white or colourless mineral (hydrated calcium sulphate) used to make Plaster of Paris which is in itself used for mould making.

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