Glossary of Terms: Sculpture

(metal) A material used to smooth, machine or sometimes roughen another softer material. Abrasives are used to scrape away the irregularities in a surface. ex. disc, belt, sandblaster, and sandpaper, properly called coated stock.

(ceramics) The creation of sculpture through the process of adding and building material.

Sometimes refered to as satin spar, alabaster is a fine-textured gypsum, usually white, that is easily carved and translucent when thin.

(metal) A lightweight, silver-colored metal used occasionally by metal artists. In a process called anodizing, aluminum is given a porous coating that can be colored with dye.

Without a specific form.

(metal) Refering to the process of dyeing an aluminum surface by coating the metal with a film of aluminum oxide while in an acid bath. The metal is next cleaned and immersed in organic dye, allowing the oxide film to absorb the dye. The surface is then cleaned a final time and sealed with lanolin.

(ceramics) A framework around which clay can be modelled and sculpted.

Ash Glaze
(ceramics) A glaze utilizing wood or vegetable ashes.

Ball Clay
(ceramics) A fine-grained, highly plastic secondary clay that fires to white or near white.

Bas Relief
Meaning “low relief”. Bas relief is a sculpting method in which the surface of a flat piece of metal or stone is carved or etched away. The image is comprised of the raised or indented sculptural patterns which remain close to the surface plane.

(metal) A double-sided sheet metal, which is composed of two different types of metal that have been rolled and fused together.

(ceramics) Refering to unglazed but fired ware.

Bisque Fire
(ceramics) The first firing of a clay. This fire eliminates trapped water and carbonaceous materials prior to the glazing process.

Blown Glass
(glass) Refers to glasswork produced through the process of blowing air though a blow pipe with molten glass on one end. The glass is formed into a variety of shapes by manipulating the hot glass as it is rotated.

(ceramics) Refers to a combination of natural clays and non-plastics formulated to possess workability and firing characteristics.

Bone China
(ceramics) Porcelain made of bone ash produced in Japan and England. Bone China is known for its translucent qualitites.

Bone Dry
(ceramics) Refers to unfired clay that has no moisture other than the natural humidity in its environment.

(metal) An alloy of copper and zinc. Brass is a harder metal than either copper or zinc and is yellow in color.

(metal) An alloy of copper and tin. Bronze is used extensively in casting. The term bronze can also refer to brass that is brown in color.

Bronzing Powder
A powder consisting of alloys of bronze or brass, it is often used as a pigment in bronzing or gilding wood or metal work. Also known as “mosaic gold”.

(metal) Refers to the stage in metal working of creating a high polish. In this process, gentle abrasives are rubbed against metal to smooth away small surface irregularities. Buffing can be accomplished with machines or hand tools.

Burn Out
(metal) Refers to the stage in the casting process when heat is used to cure the mold and remove the model.

(ceramics) Using a smooth object to dry polish the surface of a hardened, unfired piece to produce a glaze-like surface which then may be fired.

(glass) A thin rod of glass created by stretching a piece of hot glass. Canes are often used for decorative accents.

Decoration achieved by cutting into the surface of an object.

Cast Glass
Refers to molten glass that has been poured into a mold to become a shaped form.

The process of pouring hot metal or glass, clay slip into a hollow mold to harden.

(ceramics) The art of creating objects from earthly materials containing or combined with silica. The objects are then heated to 1300ºF or more to become ceramics.

(metal) An enameling technique, or an object made by such a process, where hallowed-out areas are created in the surface of a metal object and then filled with colored enamel. The piece is then fired and when cool, polished.

(metal) Patterned metal created by striking with a hammer or other tool. Usually applied to only one surface of the metal, this technique is often used in conjunction with repousse to achieve greater detail.

(metal) Refers to the technique in which steel punches are used to decorate or create texture in a metal surface.

(1) A porcelain clay body, usually translucent. Artists usually fire the clay and glazes together at high temperatures as in the traditional Asian method, or create low fire porcelain as in the European method.
(2) Commonly refered to as “whiteware”, sometimes translucent.

China Clay
(ceramics) A rare material found in the United States used in the blending of whiteware and porcelain bodies.

China Paint
(ceramics) Refers to a low fire glaze applied to previously glazed and fired porcelain or whiteware.

(1) An earthly material, finely grained which is formed from the decomposition of igneous rock. When this material is combined with water, it becomes plastic enough to be shaped. When subjected to red heat the material becomes progressively more dense resembling rock.
(2) A combination of decomposed and altered rock consisting of a variety of hydrated silicates of aluminum and non-plastics, such as quartz, and other organic matter.

(metal) An enameling process or works produced by such process in which the colors are separated by thin metal ribbons or wires to create a pattern.

(ceramics) A process in ceramics in which the walls of a piece are built with rope-like coils of clay, then smoothed.

Cold Connected
(metal) Refers to the process of joining together two pieces of metal without the use of heat. Rivets are an example of a cold connection.

(ceramics) A small pyramid of clay made to bend and melt at predetermined temperatures, providing a visual indication of the temperature in a kiln. Also referred to as a pyrometric cone.

(metal) Refers to a piece that is hand made in sections and assembled to form a whole or a piece that has not been cast.

(metal) A metal known for its malleability, low cost, and wide range of patinas.

Copper Foil Technique
(glass) A process of glass joining in which adhesive copper tape is applied to the edges of each piece and soldered together.

(ceramics) Refers to the decorative and intentional “netting” created on the surface of a glaze due to a variation in the expansion and contraction of both the glaze and the clay body in the kiln.

(ceramics) Refers to a glaze that has separated into sections on the clay surface during firing. Also referred to as alligator glaze.

(1) Can refer to any glass that is clear.
(2) Glass that contains at least 4% lead. Lead crystal is known to be brighter than other glass due to its higher index of refraction.

Crystal Glaze
(ceramics) A glaze containing areas of crystal-like shapes or colors within a uniform surface.

To slow the setting of concrete with the use of wet coverings. This process ensures the strength of the concrete throughout its mass.

Cut Glass
Refers to glass which has been cut by a stone or copper wheel, creating a surface design.

Damascus Steel
(metal) Refers to steel consisting of wavy patterns in its finish. Damascus steel is created by welding together pieces of steel, then folding the piece onto itself, and hammering that piece flat. The process is repeated until the desired line patterns have been achieved.

(ceramics) A transfer print applied to glaze-fired objects and fired at a low temperature.

(ceramics) Ceramics possessing a permeable or porous body after firing.

The number of impressions an artist makes of any one image or design. Usually, each impression in an edition is signed and numbered by the artist.

(ceramics) The ability of a clay to be manipulated without breakage.

(metal) Refers to the creation of an object by electrically depositing metal on a master form of wax. After the wax is removed, a metal shell remains.

Enameled Glass
(glass) Glass decorated with other translucent glass or glass-like material, usually of a different color. The glass is fused together through heating.

(metal) A transparent or opaque glaze that melts lower than copper, silver or gold on which enamel is used as the decorative finish.

Thermosetting resins popular with sculptors. Epoxy is also used in adhesive, laminate, enamels and coatings.

Etched Glass
(glass) Glass decorated through the process of sandblasting or the use of hydrofluoric acid. The glass is covered with an acid-resistant wax or gum, and the design is then drawn through the resist with a point. The remaining exposed glass is etched.

(metal) Assembling, forming, manufacturing, or otherwise constructing metal.

Ferric, Ferrous
(ceramics) Referring to iron.

(ceramics) Heating clay, glaze, enamel or other material to the temperature necessary to achieve a structural change.

(ceramics) Refers to a powdered felt used as a decorating material.

(metal) A thin, flexible sheet of metal, usually aluminum, copper, gold, silver, or tin.

(ceramics) The base of a ceramic piece.

(metal) A technique in which metal is shaped by hammering, usually while at red or white heat.

Found Object (Objet Trouvi)
A natural or manufactured object that is “found” by the artist and displayed as art or combined with other elements in a work of art.

Fused Glass
(glass) Glass that has been heated in a kiln to the point where two separate pieces are permanently joined without losing their individual color.

(metal) The technique of joining metals through melting.

(glass) The process of creating blown glass. Molten glass is gathered onto the end of a blowpipe and formed by blowing air through the blowpipe and manipulating the glass as it is rotated.

(ceramics) Refers to the glassy melted coating on a clay surface.

(metal) An element used for its ability to shine, resist corrosion, and join. Pure gold is usually alloyed with other metals, often silver and copper to create a more durable metal.

(ceramics) Unfired clay objects.

(ceramics) Assembled by hand. Can refer to wheel-thrown, cast, coiled or slab elements.

High Relief
(ceramics) A strongly raised or deeply carved pattern.

Hollow Casting
(ceramics) Pouring liquid clay slip into a hollow plaster mold to create a specific shape.

(ceramics) The process of decoration in which impressions are stamped into a clay surface.

(glass) Particles of metal or bubbles which either occur naturally within glass or are added for decorative effect.

A technique in which an object is incised with a design, a colorant pressed into the incisions, and the surface then scraped to confine the colored inlay to the incisions.

Japanese Alloys
(metal) Referring to alloys widely used in Japan, such as shibuishi, kuromido and shakudo. These copper-based alloys are known for their ability to take striking patina colors.

A furnace for firing clay, forming glass or melting enamels.

(glass) A glass-forming process that utilizes a kiln to mold, bend or fuse two or more pieces of glass together.

Active. Kinetic sculpture has parts that move, either through the use of air currents (as with a mobile) or through the use of motors and gears.

Latex Resist
(ceramics) Liquid latex is used to create patterns on ceramics. The latex is painted onto unfired ceramic ware to keep those pattern areas from being covered in slip or glaze.

(metal) Metal, often gold or silver, that is beaten or rolled out to extreme thinness for use in gilding.

(ceramics) The condition of raw clay when most of the moisture has evaporated, but is still soft enough to be carved or joined to other pieces.

Limited Edition
Artworks produced in a deliberately limited quantity. Each item in the edition is identical and is an original work of art. The limited size of the edition increases the value of each piece.

Lost Wax
A casting technique in which a carved wax model is placed in a container that is then filled with plaster. After the plaster hardens, the container is fired to melt the wax. The result is a plaster mold suitable for casting metal or plastic.

Low Fire Glazes
(ceramics) Low temperature finishes, usually characteristic of bright and shiny colors.

Low Fired
(ceramics) Clay fired at a temperature sufficient to fuse it into a solid mass, but too low to make it completely non-absorbent.

(ceramics) A brilliant iridescent film on ceramic glazes; formed from metallic salts.

(metal) A cold-process method of shaping material by turning, grinding or cutting.

Majolica Glaze
(ceramics) An opaque glaze with a glossy surface, usually white.

(metal) A hammer-shaped tool of a material that will not seriously mark metal. Mallets are made of plastic, leather, wood, paper and horn.

Married Metal
(metal) Patterns or imagery developed by joining various colored alloys, such as of bronze, copper and silver, adjacent to one another.

Master Mold
(ceramics) The plaster shape from which repeated copies of a mold can be made.

(ceramics) Refers to decoration carved in leather-hard clay, which is then covered with engobe and ribbed off when drier, leaving engobe inlaid in the carving.

A kinetic sculpture whose parts respond to air currents.

(v) To shape. In sculpture, modeling refers to an additive process where the artist builds up a form by adding and shaping material. In ceramics, the term refers to an initial form in clay, plasticine, plaster, or a found object, from which a mold will be made for reproduction.

Model Making
(metal) The process of creating exact replicas of designs, typically in wax, for reproduction.

Designed with standardized units or dimensions, as for easy assembly and repair or flexible arrangement and use.

Most commonly, a hollow container used in the casting process, resembling the negative image of the object desired. Plaster is the most traditional material for molds, though they may also be made of latex, rubber or gelatin. Can also refer to a form over which materials such as molten glass and leather-hard ceramics are draped to shape them.

Nickel Silver
(metal) An alloy of copper, zinc and nickel, formerly called "German silver."

Once Fire
(ceramics) A slow firing cycle which combines both bisque and glaze firings. Also known as "single fire".

Opalescent Glaze
(ceramics) Refers to a glaze with a milky or translucent quality.

Open Firing
(ceramics) A firing in which the flame touches the piece directly.

(ceramics) A glaze decoration applied on the surface of a fired, glazed piece.

Oxidation Fire
(ceramics) A firing during which the kiln chamber retains an ample supply of oxygen.

(metal) The process of chemical alteration that occurs when certain minerals come into contact with oxygen. The result is a darkening or coloring of the metal. This process can be accelerated or controlled for effect.

A surface coloring, usually brown or green, produced by the oxidation of bronze, copper or other metal. Patinas occur naturally and are also produced artificially for decorative effect.

Pinch Forming
(ceramics) A method of forming objects by pinching the clay wall.

Pit Firing
(ceramics) A firing which takes place either in a hole in the ground or a cave.

A calcium sulfate material that hardens when mixed with water. Used in mold-making because it is absorbent and able to reproduce fine details.

(adj) That which is malleable or capable of being shaped or formed.
(n) A generic name for certain materials that can be molded or extruded into objects.

(ceramics) Refers to the quality of clay that allows it to be easily manipulated and still maintain its shape.

(ceramics) Fired porcelain is white, strong and hard. When sufficiently thin, it is also translucent.

(ceramics) A loosely used term often referring to “earthenware” or any clay work that has been fired.

Press Mold
(ceramics) A one-piece mold into which clay is pressed or casting slip is poured.

(ceramics) A technique of rapidly firing low-temperature ceramic ware. Raku firings were used traditionally in Japan to make bowls for tea ceremonies.

Ram Pressed
(ceramics) Clay pressed into a mold by a machine, allowing multiple reproductions of the same shape.

(ceramics) Referring to that which is unfired or in a natural state.

Reduction Fire
(ceramics) A firing in which the supply of oxygen in the kiln is inadequate to promote complete combustion. Carbon monoxide thus formed combines with oxygen in clay and glazes, altering their colors.

A sculptural work in which figures project from a background.

The definition of replica is "a copy of a work of art produced by the person who made the original", though it is now commonly used to refer to any copy.

(metal) A plastic which may be bonded to metal or cast in molds.

(ceramics) A material or method in which a coating such as wax or oil is applied to a piece to prevent a glaze applied on top of the resist from adhering to the clay or glaze underneath. The resist burns off during firing.

Rubber Molds
(metal) These reusable molds are used to produce multiple wax models for production in lost wax casting.

Salt Firing
(ceramics) Traditionally, rock salt is thrown into the fire at the maturing temperature of the clay until an orange-peel textured clear glaze appears. Can also refer to the use of sodium in a kiln at any temperature, or during a post-firing after a work has already been fired once.

Salt Glaze
A glaze created during high-temperature firings. Sodium, usually in the form of rock salt, is introduced into the fully heated kiln and forms a clear coating on the clay, often with an orange-peel texture.

Sand Casting
A casting method in which moistened sand is packed against a model to make a mold.

A method of etching the surface of a material by spraying it with compressed air and sand.

(ceramics) A method of joining coils, slabs, or other clay forms in the wet or leather-hard stage.

(ceramics) From the Italian, meaning literally “to scratch.” Sgraffito is a decorative process in which a line is scratched through a layer of slip or glaze before firing to expose the clay underneath.

(metal) An element known for its purity, malleability and bright shine. Because pure silver is relatively soft, it is usually alloyed with a small amount of copper to create sterling.

Size or Sizing
A solution used to prevent poured plaster from adhering to a surface.

Sling Casting
(metal) A method of creating the centrifugal force needed to create precise castings in some metals.

(ceramics) A mixture of clay and water used to cast pots, apply surface decoration or cement separately formed parts.

Slip Casting
(ceramics) A process of forming a clay object by pouring clay slip into a hollow plaster mold.

Slip Glaze
(ceramics) The glaze that results from firing a clay past its maturing temperature until it melts.

Soda Firing
(ceramics) To glaze raw clay with vapors from soda ash or bicarbonate of soda introduced into the kiln during firing.

(metal) An alloy of a specific melting point and surface tension used to join metals.

Solid Casting
(ceramics) Casting liquid clay into the void created by two or more pieces of a mold.

(ceramics) An oxide of prepared pigment used for coloring bodies, slips or glazes.

(ceramics) A method of decoration by pushing objects into plastic clay.
(metal) The technique of impressing shapes and textures through hardened tools called punches.

(metal) An alloy of iron and carbon.

Sterling Silver
(metal) An alloy containing 925 parts of fine silver in 1000 and 75 parts copper.

(ceramics) A gray, reddish or buff colored clay body which matures between 1900 to 2300ºF.

Surface Decoration
(glass) Refers to the process of applying chemical and physical substances to hot glass over a table on which a substance has been sprinkled. Commonly used are powdered or crushed glass and silver nitrate.

Refers to that which is unnatural or produced by man.

Terra Cotta
(1) A term used to describe iron or rust-red colors.
(2) Low fired ceramics that are often reddish and unglazed

Throw or Throwing
Refers to the forming of pottery by the action of the potter’s fingers and hands against clay centered on the revolving platform of a potter’s wheel.

Tin Enamel
(ceramics) An opaque glaze containing tin oxide, usually an earthenware.

(glass) A decorative glass cane made of two or more colors twisted together.

(ceramics) Colored decoration applied on raw or bisqued ware before the glaze is applied.

Vapor Glaze
(ceramics) To glaze raw ware by introducing soluble chemicals into a kiln during firing.

(metal) Pronounced.

A concave or hollow receptacle.

Can refer to any one of a variety of flexible, shiny plastics.

Wax Resist
(ceramics) Refers to the process of using wax emulsion or melted wax to create patterns on ceramics. The wax is painted onto an unfired piece to keep those pattern areas from being covered in slip or glaze. The piece is then painted with slip or glaze and fired. The firing melts the wax and reveals the pattern beneath. Wax resist can also be used to slow the drying of leather-hard ware.

Wheel Thrown
(ceramics) Forming of pottery by the action of the potter’s fingers and hands against clay centered on the revolving platform of a potter’s wheel.

(ceramics) A generic term for white clay bodies.

(metal) Shaped by beating or hammering, often elaborately, for decorative effect.