DABBER Occupation. Decorating department. Works in groundlaying using a dabber.

DABBER Equipment. Used in the decorating department during groundlaying. Tool. Cotton wool rolled into a ball and covered with silk. The surplus silk tied around with twine to form a handle. Used in groundlaying to apply the oil pior to dusting with ceramic colour.

DABBER Equipment. Transfer printing. Decorating Department. Tool used by the transfer printer to force the warmed ceramic colour (the consistency of Marmite) into the engraved surface of the flat, engraved copper plate.

Transfer printing demonstration

DAFT APE EARTH Dialect. A term of endearment. "You daft ape-earth. What have you gone and done that daft thing for?"

DAMPERS Equipment. Essential part of a bottle oven to control how its works during firing. Crown damper and four quarter dampers. Flaps of iron and refractory (firebrick) bricks, hinged, which can be lowered or raised by means of a pulley system from ground level, to affect the draught in a bottle oven (and hence affect the firing conditions) during the firing cycle. Much of the control of the firing of the potters' bottle oven was achieved by the use of these dampers. The number of dampers varied from oven to oven, it all depended on the individual kiln builder and the manufacturers requirements. During the firing, the fireman would regulate the draught in any part of the oven by opening or closing the dampers.

Potbank Dictionary - crown damper - the central large damper used to control air flow on the crown (dome) of a bottle oven
Crown damper on a bottle oven

DARNERDS  Dialect. Also DIE NERDS. Downwards.

DAYWAGE Method of payment for pottery workers. Not piecework. Daywagers were/are paid for the time they spend at their place of work, not for the amount of pieces they produce (who are pieceworkers). Daywage guarantees a fixed income calculated on daily attendance.

DEAD COAL Material. Ovens department.  Coal for firing used in the bottle oven which has not yet been lit. Lumping coal, not baiting coal.

DE-AIRING Process. The removal of air bubbles and air pockets from soft (plastic) clay. This is an essential part of the potting process and can be carried out by hand by wedging or in a de-airing pug mill. If air bubbles are left to remain they will explode during the firing process and could ruin the piece.

DE-AIRING PUG Equipment. See directly above.

DECAL Short for decalcomania, the American name for ceramic transfers used in decoration. A litho, water-slide or a slide-off. Applied surface decoration.

DECK-EAT Dialect. Stop it immediately! Or alternatively - woo, look at me or look at that. Admire that. Lads out on a Friday up anley, duck.

DECORATE Process. In the decorating department. Applying a surface pattern to enhance the pot. May be simple or very elaborate and expensive. Various processes involved.

DECORATING END  - the DECORATING DEPARTMENT A department in a potbank. Obviously where the decorating is done and in some potbanks a very big and important place. Onglaze and under glaze decoration, enamelling shop, printing shop including Murray Curvex, hardening-on kiln, enamel kiln, decorating kiln.

DECORATING FIRE Process. Ovens department. The firing taking place after the application of onglaze decoration. Around 800°C.

DECORATING KILN Sometimes known as the enamel kiln. The kiln in which enamel or onglaze colours are fired.

DECORATOR'S SIZE Material. A mixture of oils which is applied to unglazed and glazed ware to help the adhesion of prints or lithographs decoration.

DEFLOCCULATE or DEFLOCCULATION Dispersion of slip or glaze by the addition of an electrolyte Eg: sodium silicate or soda ash. Makes the slip feel more fluid or runny.

DEFLOCCULANT Component of pottery body recipe. Alkaline material which introduces like electrical charges to all particles, causing them repel one another and remain in suspension.  A deflocculated suspension gives flowing consistency with less water content, meaning lower drying shrinkage - especially important in slip-casting.  Extremely low percentage of deflocculant additive is needed - 1/4 of 1% (of dry batch weight) soda ash and/or sodium silicate.

DEFLOURINATED STONE Component of pottery body recipe. Similar to China Stone but with the small amount of naturally present flouride removed by the floatation process.

DEK as in DEK THAT!  Dialect.  "Look at that! Wow!"

DELFTWARE (Delph or just Delft)  Decorative tin-glazed earthenware. When made in England it was similar to wares made at Delft. Blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands. The Dutch East India Company imported Chinese porcelain into Europe, in particular to Delft, and it was there that potters imitated it with soft clay to make what has become known as Delftware. It was much in demand and the Dutch exported it all over the western world.

Potbank Dictionary - Delftware - blue and white pottery made in the Netherlands
Examples of delftware
Blue and white pottery made in and around Delft in the Netherlands

DEVITRIFICATION Glaze fault. Crystallisation of glaze after firing. Often at the surface of the glaze making it look cloudy or matt. Not glossy.

DEWATERING Process.  Removal of water from clay slip by filter pressing to make the slop clay (slip) stiffer and more 'plastic.'

DIALECT A regional variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary. The Potteries dialect is a dialect found almost exclusively in and around Stoke-on-Trent. Like all English dialects, the Potteries dialect derives from Anglo-Saxon Old English.

DIDDLER Equipment. Potter's tool. Stick with a small sponge fastened to one end. Used to sponge smooth the recently cast spouts and handles of clay pots.

DIE Tool. Equipment. A special, precision tool that forms material such as metal or soft clay into a desired shape or profile. Placers thimbles were produced using a die in a die press.

Thimble die press

DIE NERDS Dialect. Also DARNERDS. Downwards.

DIE PRESS The device which holds a die

DIGITAL PRINTING  "Digital printing of decals and ceramic tiles is already well established. Computer generated images can be printed directly onto ceramic tiles via special inkjet systems. Alternatively a photocopier type system can be used to print onto decal paper ...  Three dimensional digital printing was developed initially for rapid prototyping of plastic objects it is now being used for small special ceramic parts."  quotes from Ivan Wozniak – The Potters Friend  More here

DINE BONK Potteries dialect. Down bank. Opposite to 'up bonk.' "Gooeen dine bonk" is going down hill.

DINNA  Lobby :)


Beware ... this is complicated! 

A pottery worker's dinner is eaten in the middle of the day, at lunchtime, which a potter calls dinner time. Lunchtime would be regarded as a 'posh' dinnertime. In the 19th Century, when potters worked very long hours, the lunch break or dinner time could last as long as 2 hours when a cooked meal was eaten. 

The meal would have been prepared at the factory over a pot-stove or on the hob of a bottle oven, or it could have been fetched from the nearby home. Lobby was a favourite dinner. As was bacon, fried on a No.8 British Standard Shovel, heated in the blazing mouth of the bottle oven being fired.  In the mid 20th Century works canteens began to appear, built by factory owners. These often became important for socialising, with clubs and societies being formed. For example at the Spode Factory in Stoke, there was an important choir and a drama group which performed in the canteen. 

At Twyford’s canteen in Cliffe Vale, Stoke, a full sized stage with proscenium was designed by Gordon Forsyth, the famous and important designer.

Dinner time at Twyfords fireclay works canteen 1950s
Proscenium arch designed by Gordon Forsyth

In the late 20th Century working hours decreased and breaks became relatively shorter. Often lunch became just a snatched ‘pace’ sometimes taken at the bench. 

A proper dinner comprises of food which is most often associated with a 'Sunday Lunch'. Roast meat, potatoes and at least 1 vegetable (in the Potteries this can be 3 or 4 different vegetables) and lots of gravy. Still served today, in some pubs everyday of the week in North Staffordshire, there seems to be a challenge as to how much gravy a flat plat will actually hold without spilling. 

So dinner is lunch unless it is a Christmas dinner when it really is a dinner at lunchtime, or just after lunchtime, but before the Queen’s speech. 

Dinner could be taken at teatime for tea, after work. This is not afternoon tea which is between lunch or dinner and tea or dinner. Potters can, of course, have a dinner for tea - the evening meal. In one household the question would arise 'Are we having a dinner for tea?' 

Now, some readers, particularly Southerners, may need a lie down at this point! 

We go on ... Tea is drunk is copious amounts during the potter's day but tea is the main meal of the day too, actually dinner.   A really hungry potter might sneak a bit of his dinner at breakfast, which was a couple of hours after he started work maybe signalled by the factory bell or siren. So if he really did have his dinner for his breakfast then he would have no dinner left for his lunch and would have to wait till he got home for his tea and had a proper dinner, for his tea. In any case he should be having ‘pobs’ for his breakfast with a pot of tea. Unless, of course, he worked shifts in which case his breakfast actually would be his dinner.  Then he would have another dinner at teatime. Perhaps a Wrights pie or grilled oatcake and cheese.

A potter might go out for a meal and if it was a posh affair it would be a 'dinnerin' which required dressing up.  A 'works dinnerin' was usually just before Christmas, sometimes paid for by the boss. This would be held after teatime but before supper which might be a 'pace' of cheese and maybe tea just before bed. This was not a posh person’s supper which was a dinner or evening meal, served after tea.  Any dinner left over after tea would be 'orts' and they could be had next day, warmed up.

So now you know!

A potter's breakfast at the Last Bottle Oven Firing in Longton in 1978
Les Dennis at Gladstone's Last Bottle Oven Firing 1978
Cooking late breakfast (or early dinner - lunch!)
Bacon sizzling in its own dip on a British Standard Shovel, fresh from the firemouth

DINNERIN Potteries dialect. A posh do. May be at Christmas. Definitely an official event, probably with wine! Sometimes paid for by the boss. In Potteries dialect you might say "Arm goo-in the works dinnerin ternate. At thay?"

"Today, when all our lives are hectic, it is more important than ever to make the table the heart of your home. Each meal is a chance for the family to gather together in the seclusion of their own home to talk and exchange ideas, as well as to enjoy the food served in an attractive setting.

Some family meals such as breakfast, may be taken in the kitchen, some eaten round a trolley or from a tray, but even when the meal is simple and the setting humble, there is no excuse for the milk bottle on the table, wrapped bread on the cloth, odd pieces of tableware, or, horror of horrors, chipped, cracked or even partly broken pieces!

It is always worth taking the extra trouble and that extra five minutes to set the table attractively; perhaps gather a few fresh flowers from the garden and place them into an unusual container.

As for the chipped pieces or odd saucers - throw them away and treat yourself to some new ones. 
An attractive dinner service for six can be bought for as little as £9. "

DINNER SERVICE About the same as the meaning for dinnerware.

DINNERSET About the same as the meaning for dinnerware.

DINNERSET COMPOSITIONS  In 1971 'The British Pottery Promotion Service Ltd' published "usual set compositions." It was quite specific! "It is often puzzling to the homemaker to know just what is needed in the way of tableware, cutlery glass and linen. Certainly if you plan any formal entertainment you will need a dinner service - which need not be costly - for at least six people."  "You will also find you need a tea service. There is a vast range of English Tableware both traditional and modern from which to select the pattern of your choice."

24 piece 
6 dinner, sweet and side plates
2 covered vegetable dishes
1 oval meat dish (small)
1 gravy boat

25 piece 
As 24 piece plus a gravy boat stand

30 piece 
As 24 piece plus 6 soup plates

31 piece 
As 24 piece plus 6 soup plates and a medium size oval meat dish

32 piece 
6 dinner, sweet and side plates
6 soup plates
2 covered vegetable dishes
3 oval meat dishes (3 sizes)
1 gravy boat

36 piece 
As 38 piece without medium size oval meat dish and gravy boat stand

37 piece 
As 38 piece without gravy boat stand

38 piece 
6 dinner, sweet and side plates
6 cream soup cups and stands
2 covered vegetable dishes
1 small size oval meat dish
1 medium size oval meat dish
1 gravy boat and stand

47 piece 
12 dinner, sweet and side plates
2 covered vegetable dishes
3 oval meat dishes (3 sizes)
2 gravy boats and stands

59 piece As 47 piece plus 12 soup plates

71 piece As 47 piece plus 12 cream soup cups and stands

DINNERWARE All those pottery dishes used in serving, and eating food. Includes plates, dishes and bowls. A set of dishes, including serving pieces. Not tea-ware.

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DIMPLE Glaze fault. Found after firing. A round shallow lump or scar on the glaze surface caused by salts in the glaze.

DIP Verb. Process. The act of dipping (fully immersing) a biscuit pot into glaze -  a suspension of glaze ingredients. Then the surplus is shaken off.

DIP Noun. Food. The exciting bacon juices and fat produced when grilling or frying bacon. Used to fry eggs to go with a traditional Potteries breakfast. Also used to fry bread, black pudding and tomatoes. A delicious way to use it, is to dip bread in it and wipe the pan round whilst the dip is still warm. 


DIPPING Process. Also known as GLAZING Biscuit ware is dipped (fully immersed) into a suspension of glaze ingredients. Then the surplus is shaken off.

Twyfords - dipping a biscuit WC in a tub of glaze prior to 'glost' firing c 1930
Dipping a toilet. Strenuous and exhausting work -
have you ever tried to pick up a toilet?


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

DIPPING TUB Equipment. The same term is used either for storage of glaze or for using as a vat into which pots are dipped. Large tub made either from wooden staves (similar to a very large beer barrel) or rubber and containing the liquid glaze.

DIPPER Occupation. Ovens department. Male for heavy pieces and female for the smaller lighter ware. The person who immerses biscuit ware into a tub of liquid glaze (basically crushed glass suspended in water) before the glost fire.

A dipper dipping teapots into tub of glaze.

A dipper dipping plates into tubs of glaze



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DIPT Dialect.  Used on the Spode Factory, Stoke-on-Trent. Past tense of dip. (dipped)

DIRTY ARK Equipment. Machine. Containing freshly made slip which has not been sieved and magnetted to remove oversize dirty material and tiny iron particles. Compared with slip stored in the clean ark which has been sieved and magnetted..

DIRT or DIRTY WARE Pottery fault. Any sort of non-organic dirt from the kiln atmosphere, placers hands, kiln furniture or blown in from outside can cause a fault on glazed pots. The dirt appears as black speckles in the fired glaze.

DISEASE Glaze fault. Irregular bare patches distributed over the surface of glost ware. Also dry patches on under-glaze colours.

DISH A large, rectangular or oval, serving plate, used, for example, for roast meat or poultry. Sometimes now referred to as a platter. These were supplied in various sizes as part of a dinner service, often with the size, in inches, stamped into the base. Some dish makers became afflicted with potters nod! Here>  

Spode - Turkey Dish

Link to dishes at the V&A museum https://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?q=spode++dish&year_made_from=&year_made_to=

DISHCLOTH END Fenton. Not neck end which is further south. Between Fenton and Longton. Almost. Or thereabouts. Not 'neck end' which is Longton proper.

DISHED Dialect. "Proper dished."  Really upset by a nasty remark or disappointing event. Perhaps disappointment with a useless gift.

DISH MAKER Occupation in the dish making shop. Potting department. Specialist jiggerer making oval dishes on a jigger.

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

DISH SAGGAR A saggar. Equipment. A saggar with a particular shape and used for a particular purpose in a bottle oven during firing. One of many different shapes of saggar.

DISH SHOP Workshop in the potting department where clay dishes are made.

DISSECTOR Occupation. Warehouse. Sorts out faulty products into categories so that the boss can see what are his most major problems.

DISSECTING Process. Sorting out faulty products to create a list of the worst faults. Creating statistics for the pottery manager to assess and find reasons for faults appearing. Also known as classifying or sometimes sorting. Usually sorting is one stage back from dissecting.

DISTANCING "Keeping plates apart, using thimbles in saggars, so that they don't stick together during the glost fire in a bottle oven" (APOLOGIES: This is not a potbank word. It's made up. Created during the lockdown caused by the Corona Virus Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020.

DOBBIN Equipment.

DOBBIN DRYER Equipment. Type of dryer for clay ware in a potbank. Ware, still on its plaster mould, is placed on horizontal turntables which rotate into the warm air zone of the drying cabinet.

Dobbin dryer

DOD BOX Equipment. Device for extruding rods of pottery clay body from which cup handles or basket ware can be made.

DOD HANDLE Cup or jug handle made with clay extruded from a dod box. Dod handles are made from strips of soft clay squeezed through the die in the dod box to give the required section, cut into lengths and bent by hand while soft to the right shape.

DOFFER A dare. "Do it for a doffer".

DOGGED Term used in firing a bottle oven. May refer to when an oven is not working as it should and the temperature at the front of the oven, by the clammins, has not risen as well as the rest remaining parts of the oven "When the front of the oven is dogged, putting a little fire at the front of the clammins will assist it."  From:  PRACTICAL TREATISE ON THE MANUFACTURE OF POTTERY by John Gater, Consultant Potter, 1921

DOGS Used in bottle oven building. Special large hand-made nails made from ½" (1.25cm) thick metal, sharpened at one end and bent over at the other. Used for securing dampers into position on the crown.

DOG PLATE Equipment. The shredder in a pug mill. May be peculiar to Enoch Wedgwood, Tunstall.

DOG SHELF Where a tired dog plonks itself. On the floor.

DONUT  (DOUGHNUT) also known as a placer's roll or placer's ring. Made from rolled up stockings and worn under a cap to help balance saggars on the placer's head when placing (loading) a bottle oven.

DONTIL EDGE A decoration to the edge of flatware (plates, saucers, etc)

DOODLE A saggar. Equipment. Name of a particular shape of saggar. "Half the size of an oval saggar". Peculiar to the Alfred Clough pottery company.  Used for a particular purpose in a bottle oven during firing. One of many different shapes of saggar.

DORST Equipment. Clay end. Machine for pressure casting pottery. Pressure casting systems for both tableware and sanitary ware together with plastic (porous resin) moulds.

DOSS as in DOSS-DINE Dialect. Sleep. Or hang around, bored.

DOT Doris or sometimes Dorothy. Can be confusing.

DOTTEY  A saggar. Equipment. A saggar with a particular shape and used for a particular purpose in a bottle oven during firing. One of many different shapes of saggar.

DOT PUNCH Equipment. Decorating department. Used by the engraver to punch tiny dots onto a copper plate for printing.

DOTTLING Process during placing a bottle oven. Not to be confused with rearing. Placing or setting glazed pottery flatware, which has been dipped in glaze, into refractory of fireclay thimbles in a saggar. 'Best ware' was dottled. 'General current ware' was reared.

Dottled Plates

Pottery manufacturer. The Doulton Company began as a partnership between John Doulton, Martha Jones, and John Watts, with their factory at Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth, London. The business specialised in making stoneware articles, including decorative bottles and salt glaze sewer pipes. The company took the name Doulton in 1853.

By 1871, Henry Doulton, John's son, launched a studio at the Lambeth pottery, and offered work to designers and artists from the nearby Lambeth School of Art. The first to be engaged was George Tinworth followed by artists such as the Barlow family (Florence, Hannah, and Arthur), Frank Butler, Mark Marshall and Eliza Simmance.

Doulton Lambeth Factory
"The most picturesque factory in London"
Date: Built 1876-8

Doulton Lambeth Factory
Only surviving part of the factory, built 1876-8
  Photo credit: Katie Wignall, Founder of Look Up London Tours

Corner of Lambeth High St & Black Prince Rd, London SE1
Date: 1876-8  Architects: Tarring Son & Wilkinson
Now known (2020) as Southbank House

"Ornate, Gothic-style structure built as a permanent advertisement for Doulton architectural ceramics. Profusely decorated with red and buff terracotta details and with Doultonware bosses, plaques, lintels and sills. Above the doorway is a tympanum modelled in terracotta by George Tinworth, depicting Henry Doulton in the Lambeth studio with some of his artists. This building is all that remains of the extensive range of Doulton terracotta structures that used to dominate the Lambeth embankment. Towering above them was a chimney 233 feet high, modelled as an Italian campanile, supposedly on the advice of John Ruskin."

In 1882, Doulton purchased the small factory of Pinder, Bourne & Co, at Nile Street in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. The business introduced new techniques and produced bone china from 1884. The ideas and inspiration of key individuals like John Slater and Charles J Noke built its reputation in figurines, vases, and decorative pieces. 

When Henry died in 1897 he was widely mourned. By this time Doulton was popular for stoneware and ceramics, under the artistic direction of John Slater, who worked with figurines, vases, character jugs, and decorative pieces designed by the prolific Leslie Harradine. The Doulton name caught the attention of the British Royal Family. 

In 1901 the Burslem factory was granted the Royal Warrant by the new king, Edward VII. Now the business could adopt a bold new logo - the British lion - and a classic brand name - Royal Doulton. Between the World Wars, the name Royal Doulton became synonymous with the finest English china across the world. Innovation and inspiration were key to its growth, whether that be flambĂ© ware, titanian ware, or bone china. And it didn't stop there. 

Royal Doulton had launched its definitive HN Series of Pretty Lady figurines in 1913 and these collectables went from strength to strength. Under Charles Noke, it successfully moved into the market for Character Jugs too. What's more, it had established Bunnykins as nurseryware in 1934, moving into collectable figurines by 1939.

The Lambeth factory closed in 1956 due to clean air regulations preventing urban production of salt glaze. Following closure, work was transferred to The Potteries. The office building in Black Prince Road Lambeth, survives, complete with a frieze of potters and Sir Henry Doulton over the original main entrance, executed by Tinworth.  

In 1960 Royal Doulton it introduced a new product - English Translucent China (ETC), which is now better known as Royal Doulton Fine China. ETC offered the excellent translucent quality of bone china, without the expense. In 1966 Royal Doulton became the first china manufacturer to receive the Queen's Award for Technical Achievement. Royal Doulton merged with Minton in 1968, and gained the Royal Albert brand from the merger with AEP (Allied English Potteries) in 1971. 

In 2005, these historic names became part of the Waterford Wedgwood group. On 30 September 2005, the Nile Street factory closed. Some items are now made in the parent company, WWRD Holdings Ltd at the Wedgwood factory in Barlaston, in the south of the Potteries. Further production is carried out in Indonesia. Royal Doulton Ltd, together with other Waterford Wedgwood companies, went into administration on 5 January 2009. 

Doulton Lambeth Factory
Photo: unknown source  Date: 2010

Doulton Lambeth
Photo: Louise Ferriday  Date: 2018

Doulton Lambeth
Photo: Louise Ferriday  Date: 2018

Doulton Lambeth
Photo: Louise Ferriday  Date: 2018

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DOWNDRAUGHT BOTTLE OVEN Type of bottle oven.  This type of bottle oven is a more complex design than the simple updraught bottle oven. It was developed in the early 1900s to make more efficient use of the coal fires. Technically, the oven should be called 'updraught-downdraught' since the hot gasses pass through the setting of saggars not once but twice, theoretically extracting as much heat as possible from the burning coal.

From the firemouths, the intensely hot gases flow upwards to the crown where they are deflected downwards through the setting of saggars containing pottery, and are then drawn out through the flues in the floor of the oven. The control of the flow of the hot gases was made by the use of dampers (robust adjustable flaps, over the crown, quarter and shoulder holes) which were opened and closed during the firing cycle. It was skilled work. Unfortunately the process has never been recorded, not even written down.

Downdraught ovens were used mainly for biscuit firing, as it was considered that they were more economical in fuel, and that they could be worked to produce a more regular heat over all the oven.

There are three variants of downdraught oven:
  1. Downdraught hovel type
  2. Downdraught with separate chimney (Clement Robey Patent)
  3. Downdraught with integral chimney (Wilkinson Patent)
Sketch of downdraught hovel type

More details about downdraught bottle ovens here> at The Potteries Bottle Oven website

DRAW or DRAWING Process. Emptying a bottle oven (or other type of oven) after it has been fired.

DRAWER A man, part of a team, employed to empty the bottle oven of saggars after firing. May be a placer, if they have no other work, or a casual labourer.

DRAW-THROUGH A saggar. Equipment. A saggar with a particular shape and used for a particular purpose in a bottle oven during firing. One of many different shapes of saggar.

DRAW TIN Equipment. Used around the bottle oven.

DRESSING IRON Equipment. Ovens department. Stout bar of metal about 9 inches long and usually sharpened at each end, like a chisel, used for knocking wads off the top rim of previously-used glost saggars. The dressing iron was also used as a lever to level up a bung of saggars in the oven.

DRESSLER KILN Equipment.  The first successful muffle-type tunnel kiln was that built by Conrad Dressler in 1912. The name is now applied to a variety of kilns designed and built by Swindell-Dressler. more here>

DRILLER Occupation. Glost warehouse. Earthenware. He or she who drills one or two very small holes in the back of flatware to pierce the glaze through to the biscuit. When the piece is then fired again, perhaps for a decorating fire, any moisture in the body will escape through the holes to prevent the pottery fault called spit out.

DRILLING One or two very small holes are drilled in the back of flatware to pierce the glaze. When the piece is then fired again, perhaps for a decorating fire, any moisture in the body will escape through the holes. This prevents spit out.

DRINDED Dialect. Drowned or soaked. As in "Lark a drinded rot" (Like a drowned rat).

DROP ARCH Part of a bottle oven. Sometimes also called a glut 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.

DROPPER Glaze fault. Same as a gob. 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.

DROWNDED Wet through after a sudden downpour. As in "Lark a drinded rot" (Like a drowned rat).

DRUM Equipment. A wooden former used in saggar making to form the basic shape of the saggar.

DRUMMING Problem in the sliphouse during pugging. A pug will not extrude clay unless their is friction between the clay and the pug barrel. Occasionally the clay sticks to the centre auger and is sheared away from the clay in contact with the barrel. The clay gets carried round and round with the auger and extrusion thus stops. This is drumming. The pug has to be cleared out and cleaned down. 

DRY BODY Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Black basalt, cane and red stone ware are examples of dry stoneware body. Often unglazed.

DRY EDGES Glaze fault. Insufficient glaze on the edge of the piece. Created by poor dipping or poor handling.

DRYER Equipment A heated chamber in which pottery is dried before firing.

DRYING Process. Critical part of pottery making. Clay drys in different ways depending its thickness. Large pieces dry slower than small ones. Too fast drying can lead to uneven shrinkage and cracking before and during firing. As well as heat, moisture needs to be extracted carefully.

DRYING MANGLE Equipment. Large drying cupboard or tower. Pottery ware is placed on shelves supported on two endless chains in a vertical shaft provided with steam-pipes or other source of heat. The ware is introduced through an opening at a convenient level, and on turning a handle are moved forward until another shelf is brought to the opening. When dry, the ware is removed through a similar opening at the opposite side of the chamber.  The chief advantages of a mangle dryer are: 1) there is no distant carrying of ware to the dryer 2) a larger output is obtained as the makers lose no time in carrying the wares 3) better use is made of the heat than in some other forms of  drying stoves.

Drying mangle
Photo: Source unknown  Date: 1950s

DRYING SHRINKAGE Pottery shrinks as it dries after making. As water is driven from the constituent clay the particles of the body come closer together to cause the shrinkage. China clay shrinks between 6 and 10%, ball clay shrinks between 9% and 12%.

DRYING STOVE Equipment. A heated chamber in which pottery is dried before firing.

DUCK Dialect. Equally applicable to male or female, friend or stranger - a term of endearment. As in "Ta duck" or "Up Anley, duck." Used a lot to round-off a remark. Also used as a greeting "At oh rate duck?" Origin of the term? There are a number of suggestions for the origin of the word as used in the Potteries. One suggestion is : Duck is derived from Dux, a leader of men that also became Duke. So by calling someone Duck you are showing that they are an important and revered person. Another suggestion, which is similar is, derived from the Saxon word "ducas" as a term of respect, which by another route is where the word "Duke" arises from in English.

Twyfords Pottery Ducks in 1980s Bathroom Colours
Twyfords Pottery Ducks
From 1980s Bathroom Colours catalogue

DUCKERS Dialect. Large pebbles, no smaller than an apple. Good for throwing?  With thanks to @pottrays for the suggestion.

DUDSON Pottery Manufacturer

Richard Dudson opened his first factory in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1800. Nine generations on from the founder, Dudson remained a privately owned family business, the oldest in the UK tableware industry specialising in ceramic tableware for the hospitality industry. In the early years, the company produced a wide variety of domestic ware, including Staffordshire figures, Relief  Moulded Stoneware, Jasper Ware, Ebony and Mosaic (rouletted) ware. 

On the death of his father in 1882, James Thomas Dudson, the great grandson of the founder, became the owner of the Hope Street factory and it was he who master-minded significant changes in production, which would help to ensure the future of the company. Having travelled extensively for the firm for many years, he identified the potential in supplying a new market. By this time, the railways were well established, shipping lines began to flourish and an increasing number of hotels were being built to accommodate the population which was now 'on the move' for the first time. James Thomas Dudson had the foresight to identify the embryonic 'leisure and tourism' industry.

The exceptionally strong, vitreous clay body perfected by his father was ideally suited to the production of catering ware and so, by 1891, Dudson had turned its full attention to its new growth area.  

UPDATE 04.04.2019: "The company announced today that cash flow pressures and deteriorating sales has lead to its collapse." Administrators were brought in and a sale of the Dudson brand was quickly made to the pottery firm of Churchill China.  318 workers were made redundant. 

DULLING Glaze fault. Poor gloss surface created when the piece is cooled too slowly after the glost fire.

DUMP Kiln furniture. Spacer or support for big pieces, or for refractory shelves.


DUMP A term used in saggar making. A lump of clay ready to 'mau out' into a saggar's bottom. 4 or 5 pounds in weight of saggar marl is used for a saggar's bottom. A flat D-shaped tool called a grafter was used to slice a flat piece of saggar marl from the dump, before use.


DUNNA ROTA Dialect. Stays the same. Doesn't alter.

DUNNA WEREET Dialect. A word of advice to someone who is unjustifiably worried, suggesting them to stop it. As soon as possible! "Tinna woth eat!" (it isn't worth it)

DUNT and DUNTING Pottery body fault. See in-dunt and out-dunt. Cracks which appear in the fired pot passing completely through the body. Created by thermal stress in the body but with some underlying cause. ALSO "Cracking associated with too rapid cooling of the kiln. Putting pots on placing sand can help." Definition courtesy of Potclays Limited here> 

DUNT - don't get confused with another meaning of  DUNT - a dull knock or blow. ‘Don’t draw your dirk if a dunt will do’ is an old Scots proverb warning against using more power or effort than is necessary.

DUNTED Pottery body fault. Fire-cracked ware.  Latent defect due to stress created during the making process but not apparent at the time. Appears as a hairline crack, or even worse. Caused by unequal tension, often during the cooling down after the firing, the ware goes off with a bang. In the more extreme cases the article virtually splits in two. Occasionally a dunt occurs long after the manufacture of the article has been completed. Usually, however, the fault is not long in manifesting itself and generally before the ware has had time to leave the factory.  (Many thanks go to Don Parry for sending me this word, Oct 2015)

DUPLEX PAPER Material used during the process. Paper where each side is different. Usually made by laminating two sheets of paper. Duplex paper has a different finish on each side. Potters litho paper is like this to allow the litho decoration to slide off the paper after it has been soaked in water.

DUST Dialect. Meaning 'do you?'  A sentence may be started with the words 'dust ear surry?' which means 'now listen here'.

DUST EAR SURRY or DUST EAR YOTH See immediately above.

DUST PRESSING Process  The compacting of dust clay, a fine powder clay with low moisture content into a mould or 'tool.' In tile making the process was invented by the engineer Richard Prosser in 1840 and commercially exploited by Herbert Minton who in the 1840s operated the patent under licence. It became the great revolutionary breakthrough for industrial tile production. A tile press has a square metal mould with an adjustable plate at the bottom set at a certain depth for a required thickness. The cavity of the mould is completely filled with slightly moist dust clay and the surface levelled  By turning the great flywheel, the screw, with a square metal plate at its lower end, is brought down and compresses the dust clay slowly, allowing the air to escape. It is then raised slightly only to be brought down again with great force compressing the clay and forming the tile. The tile is removed from the press and then fettled to remove the thin feather-edge or burr along the edges of the tile. When dry, the tile is biscuit fired and is ready for decorating and glazing.

DYSART Material. Glaze. Wedgwood cream coloured glaze.

DYE Material used during the process. For example in sanitaryware manufacture a vegetable dye (which burns away during the firing process leaving no trace) is added to the raw tub of glaze.  Different coloured dyes are used to differentiate between different types of glaze.

DYEAD Potteries Dialect. Dead.

DYEDED Potteries Dialect. Died.

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