Greenware ceramics definition

Understanding and making greenware pottery 

definition of greenware
Plate that was once greenware

Learn about greenware, the stage in the production of ceramics when the clay is shaped. Greenware is the term given to clay objects when it's shaped but not yet fired in a kiln. Once fired in a kiln then converts the greenware from clay to ceramic. Greenware is unfired pottery and it's very fragile.

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Greenware pottery stages

Greenware plate

I am well aware of how fragile greenware is due to I have broken many pieces in creating ceramic artwork. Greenware can be in different stages. For example it can be wet, damp, soft leather-hard, leather-hard, stiff leather-hard, dry, and even bone dry. These are examples of different drying stages of greenware.

At this stage, the object can still be worked by adding more water or clay so that it softens and then can be easily reshaped. However one important note is that greenware should not be fired in the kiln. It should dry out first and be in a bone dry state otherwise it could crack or break. For greenware, the drying process is critical. Until it is bone dry, it can't be fired in the kiln, or it can deform or break in the kiln. Your greenware needs to be carefully dried to make sure all parts of the piece are dry and evenly dry. It is important not to force-dry pottery in an attempt to speed up the drying process by blowing hot air on it. It's in this stage where I do most of the handcrafted ceramic work.

How to dry greenware

Usually how I dry my greenware is on racks and shelves allowing air to circulate between objects. Pieces need to be separated from each other otherwise they might end up melding together.

The drying process goes through several stages like I already mentioned from when it is still visibly damp to when it has dried enough to handle without deformation. And then finally to a final bone dry stage. When it's in this stage the bone dry stage the art piece will feel warmer to the touch and you will visibility see it is much drier due to the color change. It will mist likely change to slightly lighter color of clay.

Greenware decoration

decorated greenware
Greenware has been decorated and is ready for the kiln

I decorate greenware while it is drying. In addition while it's in the greenware stage I also sometimes add a glaze and then it will be fired. This is where I add color and texture to my artwork.