Greenware ceramics definition

Understanding and making greenware pottery

Greenware plate


Unfinished clay or pottery not completely dry and not fired in a kiln is Greenware. Greenware is clay in which has been given shape but not fired yet. At this stage, the clay contains water and can be shaped and molded into an ultimate form. It's still malleable clay. Once fired, clay is no longer Greenware.

Learn about more about unfired clay read my articel called: Unfired clay. To learn more about a kiln, read my article called: What is a kiln used for.

Once fired in a kiln greenware is converted to ceramic. Unfired pottery or greenware is very fragile.


Greenware pottery stages


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

Decorative greenware plate
Decorative greenware plate

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.


Plate that was once greenware now in final form
Plate that was once greenware now in final form


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