N - O


NAKED RAKU A form or variant of raku firing requiring differing making and decorating techniques.

NANKIN Description of the decoration between the central image and the border. The narrow band of decoration between a centre design, for example on a plate, dish or saucer, and the different decoration on the border. May be specific to the Spode factory and generally relates to decoration in the Chinese style e.g. the willow pattern.

Position of nankin decoration

NARKED and NARKY Dialect. Upset. Irritated. Annoyed. Bad tempered. But not mythered - more upset than mythered.

NAAN IN CHEESE Dialect. Nine inches!  As someone might have said before, this is about the diameter of an oatcake!

NATCH Part of a multi-part mould. A location device which ensures all parts locate together, correctly aligned. Self locating. A natch can be a simple small dome in one part of the mould fitting snugly into a hollow in the other part of the mould. Natches are available in durable plastic or metal and are precision-made to ensure accurate mould alignment, thereby eliminating imperfect, twisted seams.This type of natch is embedded into the mould during manufacture. They are recyclable once the mould has come to the end of its working life. Sometimes known as a joggle.

NATCHED BRICKS Specially shaped, interlocking, firelcay bricks used to build the sloping floor of a potteries bottle oven >

NATCHING Process. Closing the firedoors in an enamel kiln before firing.

NCB National Coal Board. Responsible for all coal production in the UK at the time of the Last Bottle Oven Firing in 1978.

NECK Part of a bottle oven. The top of the chimney or stack of a bottle oven.

NECK EAT DINE Dialect. Drink it fast.

NECK END Dialect. Longton. (Lonkton) Southernmost of the six towns of the City of Stoke-on-Trent. Further south than the 'dish cloth end.'

NECKS WICK Dialect. Starts next Monday, and lasts for seven days. Sometimes starts on Sunday - it depends.

NEPHELINE SYENITE Material used in the clay body recipe. An anhydrous sodium potassium alumino silicate. Although feldspar-like in its chemistry, mineralogically it is an igneous rock combination of nepheline, microcline, albite and minor minerals like mica, hornblende and magnetite. It is found in Canada, India, Norway and USSR. Like feldspar, it is used as a flux in tile, sanitaryware, porcelain, vitreous and semi-vitreous bodies.  Nepheline Syenite has been a standard in the ceramic industry for many years, and is very popular for its whiteness.

NESH Dialect. A ganzy is required. A bit similar to mard, I suppose. Not tough enough to stand the cold or damp.

NESH Dialect. A nesh unfired clay pottery body is short.  A short unfired clay pottery body is less plastic so is difficult to form. An earthenware body contains a high percentage of plastic clay and is easier to shape and form. But a china body - containing say 50% calcined bone - is less plastic and therefore nesh. (From Potters by Gordon Elliott interview with Len Potts. ISBN 1 904546 19 6 )

NESH CARROT Dialect. Someone who is very nesh! Indeed!

NIB That little bit of a spout on some pottery jugs. Not a NIP (see below).

NIBBED SAGGAR Type of saggar. With internal protrusions to support a bat, creating a double deck. Thus allowing the placing of two layers of ware in one saggar. Nibs also allowed the placing of a lid or cover or the top of the saggar to keep out dirt.

NIGHT FIREMAN Occupation. The fireman's assistant. The night fireman stood in for the main fireman to give him some rest during the night. Also known as a sitter up.

NINETY NINE!  A huge shout out in the casting shops at Twyfords, Alsager works. The shout was made loud and clear by the casters whenever a lady should stray into the area. But why?  The call of "ninety nine" indicated to everyone within hearing distance that they should avoid swearing till the lady had gone.  Particularly useful when groups of visitors were touring the plant!

NIP Pottery body fault. See chip.

NOGGER Dialect. Football game. "Conner bate a game a nogger, youth!"

NO-LIMIT-RISERS Dialect. Repair required in trouser pocket or elsewhere in the below-waist garment. Badly dressed. Failed wardrobe.

No limit risers. Wardrobe failure.

NOUSE (as in mouse) The knowledge. But not in a London Taxi sort of way.

NOWT 1 Nothing. Zilch.

NOWT 2 Naughty boy.

 Dialect. Naughty or moody kid. Probably spoilt and mard.  Miserable mard-arse.

NUNC Dialect. This word is difficult to define but "He slipped off his nunc" is  a known usage. It may also be used to describe "No creeping on in a game of marbles".

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OATCAKE Potteries delicacy. Potters' favourite food. A 'toe rag'. A Potteries poppadom (but floppy, not crispy). Potteries oatcakes are totally different from Derbyshire oatcakes which are about the same diameter but are much thicker or Scottish oatcakes which are small, hard and like a biscuit.

The Oatcake Smile

Potteries oatcakes are more like pancakes, being floppy, flat and about eight inches across, and made from oatmeal, whole wheat flour, yeast, milk and water.  Best served with melted cheese either grilled then rolled or oven baked and folded.

The Potters' Cook Book
Compiled by Hannah Staton in 1977  Drawings by Bill Morris
Printed by Keates Ltd., Hanley, Stoke on Trent 

Ode to the Oatcake - Arthur Berry 1980

"Let us pay homage to the Oatcake
Or oatcake or woodcake as the old men called them.
The oatcake is not a cake at all really
Not like the fairy cake or the Eccles cake
Not a cake in that way
More of a Potteries Papadum
A sort of Tunstall Tortilla
A Clay Suzette."

More here>on the dedicated Potbank Dictionary page 

NOTE: PIKELET "It's a sort of female Oatcake, Smaller, thicker, sweeter, More immediately seductive..." (Arthur Berry)


OCCUD Dialect. Sometimes Occerd or Ockerd. Awkward. "Ays an occud sod, ay is." May be downright crossomical!


ODD CUPS Earthenware, once fired, so the clay was dipped in glaze without going through the biscuit stage. (Transactions of B Ceram Soc. Vol 75 Page 36 1976).

ODD MAN Occupation. Ovens Dept. More than a labourer. May set his mind to virtually anything. But he worked particularly in the ovens department. One of his jobs could have been daubing clay on the clammins of a bottle oven.

ODD WORK usually carried out by an odd man, labourer. Tidying up around the oven after firing. Clearing out the ash from the firemouths and ash pits. Clearing broken saggars and wad from inside the oven. Maybe for odd money! How odd.

OFFSET BASIN Sanitaryware. When looked at from above the ‘offset basin’ does not look symmetrical.  The bowl of the washbasin is set to one side, either to the left or to the right, of centre.  This arrangement allows the use of the remaining area, on the opposite side to the bowl, as a shelf for temporary storage of personal items.  An offset corner basin goes a little further since it makes the basin more ergonomic and easier to use.

OFF SIDE See laid up. Poorly potter but not as poorly as laid up. 'Bad in bed and woss up, duck.'

OFF THE HUMP Process. Potting. Throwing technique used to make multiple small items.  A large lump of wedged clay is centred and raised into a hump, on the throwing wheel. The top is then shaped (into a cup, for example) then cut off the hump and put aside. Another cup is then shaped from the remaining hump and this is repeated until no hump remains.

OH RATE Dialect. "It'll do, we'll get away with it." Or "fair to middling, thanks."

OIL GILDING Decoration. The application of gold to ware without firing it, by fixing it with oil or japanner's size. Also known as Size Gilding.

OILING PAD Equipment. Decorating department. Used in engraving.

OLD GOLD A yellow colour applied to the edge of an pottery piece, usually earthenware, to give the semblance of a gilded edge. But not gold.

OMMER Dialect. Tool for knocking nails in.

ONCE FIRED Type of pottery body. Glazed clay ware. Biscuit and glost fire combined into one. Glaze is applied directly to the clay piece rather than to the biscuit piece. During firing the clay and the glaze mature together at the peak temperature. Glaze for this application should be developed in order to withstand the higher firing temperature required for the clay. Usually leadless glazes are used. Modern vitreous china sanitaryware is once fired.

ONGLAZE DECORATION Process. Decoration applied ON (or OVER) the glaze surface of the piece. Pottery with onglaze hand painted decoration, or onglaze litho decoration, is fired at a lower temperature and has a duller finish than the glaze it is applied to. All gold and platinum decorations are applied onglaze. It may also be less resistant to wear than for inglaze decoration.

OOSTER Sometimes YEWSTER or EWSTER or OUSTER Clinker or caked ash formed on the insides of a bottle oven firemouth, mainly found in biscuit ovens or glost ovens fired with bad fuel. "Burnt coal ash which has welded together" as described by Alfred Clough, the Fireman responsible for The Last Bottle Oven Firing in August 1978.

Ooster, Yewster, Ewster
Photo: courtesy Margaret Allsop
Article courtesy of the Evening Sentinel 10 Dec 1949

OPACIFIER Material used during the process. Glaze manufacture. Zircon or tin oxide.

OPAQUE GLAZE Type of glaze. Produced by adding an opacifier such as zircon or tin oxide transparent glaze. Quantities of 6 to 15% are used.

OPEN ARSED Empty. Gappy. Spacious.

OPEN HANDLE Particular design of handle. Attached to the side of the piece at the top and bottom only. Compare this with a block handle which is fully closed up.

OPEN STOCK Ranges of product kept by retailers which could be purchased as single pieces or any combination. Not in sets.

ORANGE PEEL Glaze fault. Looks like orange peel (as you expected). A ripply or lumpy ‘orange peel’-like surface to the glaze, only seen from certain angles.  This can be a result of unevenly applied glaze or stiff glaze - which has not reached sufficient fluidity to flow completely smooth during firing. The glaze surface just hasn't flattened properly. Another cause could be under firing.

ORNAMENT Perhaps something on the window ledge which a potter would pronounce as an 'ornymnt'.

ORNAMENTER Occupation. Potting department. See immediately below.

ORNAMENTING Process. Potting department. Applying clay 'ornament' to a clay piece. Made famous by the Wedgwood company. The cheese-hard clay piece is first moistened with water from a brush and then the ornament is applied to the item and gently but firmly pressed down, making sure there is no air behind it, and none of the ornament's decoration is squashed. The decoration of some larger items can take two days’ work with as many as 450 ornaments on a single piece.

Ornamentation for Wedgwood's Jasper
with Jon French

ORNAMENTER'S FIGUREMAKER Occupation. Potting department. The person who makes the ornament figures. The figuremaker forces a small quantity of clay into the ornament mould and firmly presses 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 called a waggler) to ease the clay out of the mould without distorting it or losing any of the detail. more here>

ORNAMENT MOULD or Sprig Mould. The fired clay or plaster of Paris mould used to create 3D sprigs for decoration of the clay piece

ORTS (aughts) Leftover dinner served up again for dinner or tea on the following day or the day after.

ORTON CONES Type of pyrometric cone. Used in the firing of pottery to determine the amount of 'heat work' which has been applied to the ware during the fire.  Device for measuring the heat-work imparted to pottery pieces during the bottle oven firing. These devices are formulated from different mineral mixtures and numbered accordingly. They are placed in a kiln so they can be viewed during firing and when a cone begins to bend it is closely monitored and the firing is terminated when it reaches a specific position.

'OSS Equipment. Ovens department.  corruption of horse. Vital in the bottle oven. A one-sided wooden stepladder used by placers in the oven to reach the top of stacks or bungs of saggars. Two or three different heights were made to suit a particular oven. Made very robust with a wide top step to allow a saggar to be rested on it before its final lift to the top of the bung. The back of the top was usually cut away into a semi-circle so that it could rest against a bung which had already been placed. Different heights of 'oss were used.

Three sizes of 'oss' in use in a bottle oven

OSS OFF Potteries dialect. Kindly go away, and quickly, if you would.

OT Potteries dialect word meaning very warm.

OTUSS Potteries dialect word meaning hot house.

OUSTER Sometimes YEWSTER or EWSTER or OOSTER Clinker or caked ash formed on the insides of a bottle oven firemouth, mainly found in biscuit ovens or glost ovens fired with bad fuel. "Burnt coal ash which has welded together" as described by Alfred Clough, the Fireman responsible for The Last Bottle Oven Firing in August 1978.

Ooster, Yewster, Ewster 
Photo: courtesy Margaret Allsop 
Article courtesy of the Evening Sentinel 10 Dec 1949

OUTDOOR Frequented by a thirsty potter who prefers to drink at home! The off-licence department of a beer house or pub. Outdoors sell beer by the pint and served in the consumers own jug, bottle or other vessel.

OUT-DUNT Pottery fault. Sometimes known as a cooling-down dunt. A body crack created during the cooling cycle of the firing process, or at some considerable time after firing, maybe years later. Characterised by razor sharp edges. Compare this with 'in dunt.'

OVAL A saggar. Equipment. A saggar with a particular shape to accommodate oval product in a bottle oven during firing. One of many different shapes of saggar.

OVALWARE Oval shaped ware. (not sure I can add to that)

OVEL ('ovel) Potteries dialect word. Part of a bottle oven. The hovel.  Huge bottle shaped brick structure built to fully enclose the main business-end of the oven. (Good example of the typical dropping of the H in the Potteries dialect)

OVEN  (Bottle Oven) Strictly speaking this is not the same as a KILN. See BOTTLE OVEN and BOTTLE KILN. It was in the bottle oven that the metamorphosis of clay, during firing, took place. It's where the irreversible change from clay to pot, upon which the whole of the craft and industry is founded. The change which takes place in the oven at around 600°C. It's where clay loses its chemically-bound water molecules and can no longer be broken down by water. Once this change has occurred it cannot be reversed. Ever. This ceramic change converts fragile and crumbly dry clay from Mother Earth into hard brittle pottery. This is both a chemical and physical change to the structure of the clay. Also see 'Don't Get Confused' tab.

OVEN BOTTOMS or OVEN BOTTOM BRICK A particular type and shape of refractory building brick used in the bottle oven base. They cover the flues from medfeather to medfeather and are matched or grooved to fit into each other to create a seal and prevent sand and dirt working into and blocking the flues. Made in Berry Hill, Stoke-on-Trent.
Oven bottom bricks

OVEN FILL The amount of ware (pottery items) placed or set in to the bottle oven.  The factory owner would always try to get as much ware as possible into the kiln to maximise the efficiency/use of the fuel.

OVENMAN Occupation. Ovens department. Man who worked in bottle ovens. Maybe an oddman, placer, sitter-up or fireman. More than a labourer. May set his mind to virtually anything. But he worked particularly in the ovens department.

OVER BLUNGING A problem created in the sliphouse which produces a clay which is more plastic and sticky to handle than it should be. Over-blunging breaks apart agglomerated clay particles into smaller ones, making it sticky. This then requires more preparation by wedging before it can be returned to a usable condition.

OVER FIRED Ware that has been spoiled during firing either because it was left at its peak temperature for too long or because the temperature of the oven was allowed to rise above the temperature at which the body recipe or glaze fully matured.

OVER GLAZE  See ON-GLAZE  Not over glazed - see below.

OVERGLAZE DECORATION Decoration applied to the pottery after it has been glazed and received the glost fire.

OVER GLAZED Glaze fault. Too much glaze applied to the piece. When fired, the extra thick glaze would be poorly matured and would look ugly with a semi-gloss finish. Sometimes described as spangled.

OVER LOOKER Occupation. Various departments. Quality checker.

OWD Dialect. Similar to surry. Sir. Used as a term of endearment. "Ahdo! Owat owd?" Also meaning "hold" - see below.

OWD MON Dialect. Husband. Dad. 'Me fayther.' Male parent.

OWD UP A TOUCH WUT? Dialect. "Hold on a bit, would you?"

OWE RATE DUCK Dialect. "I am very good thank you."

OWK Dialect. Our kid.  Similar to ARK . As in "Tow rate owk?"  meaning, "How are you our kid?" The two words, owk and ark, although they mean the same, they may originate from different areas of The Potteries. Terms of endearment.

OX LIPS Equipment. Used during dish and large holloware pressing. Made of leather. Shaped so that the potter (the presser) can use the tool to press clay into the mould.

OXIDATION A firing condition. Sometimes 'oxidisation'. A gas fired kiln with a blue flame, or an electric kiln, produces oxidisation during firing. There is no excess of carbon in the kiln and fuel use is more efficient. Glazes are generally brighter after oxidation firing.

OXIDES Materials. Colouring agents. In pottery making, oxides of metals such as cobalt, copper, and iron, contribute colour or opacity to glazes. For example Copper Oxide normally gives a green colour but under reducing conditions gives red.

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