Technical terms Sculptures

Alloy a mixture of metals; base metals are added to silver to strengthen it. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure and it is usually mixed with copper.

Applied arts traditional reaction to the increased industrialisation and the shapes and techniques that became less as a result. It became popular in the Netherlands at the end of the 19th century, after the Arts & Crafts movement in England and the Kunstgewerbe in Germany. Over here it featured a combination of aesthetics and machine.

Baking the production process of ceramic. Temperatures vary from 800°C-1000°C for earthenware and 1400°C when baking porcelain for the second time.

Bisque Porcelain unglazed porcelain or earthenware that has only been baked once. It is popular for classic, porcelain sculptures due to its similarities to classic marble.

Burnishing rubbing over a metal or gilded surface with a hard tool to give the object a nice shine.

Carving geometrical, cut out decorations in, for example, wooden objects and the (Frisian) engraving earthenware.

Caryatid a sculpture of a clad female figure of Greek origin that fulfills the role of a pillar.

Casting making items by pouring molten metal, ceramic or glass into a mould made of sand, plaster or metal in the shape of the desired object.

Celadon semi-translucent, green coloured glaze that was first used on the earthenware of the Chinese Song dynasty.

Ceramic a collective name for baked objects made of clay.

Colour gamut a subset of colours that is used to decorate ceramics.

Composite a material used for sculptures among other things. It consists of glue, wood pulp, cast, starch and saw dust.

Craquelure a network of fine cracks that appears (or is sometimes created on purpose) in a layer of glaze or lacquer

Creamware earthenware baked at a higher temperature than other baked ceramic, which makes it strong and waterproof. Can be salt-glazed.

Crinoline group porcelain sculpture, usually depicting a romantic scene.

Deboss/Emboss a technique to give metal (usually silver) a relief pattern with the help of hammers and chisels. Unlike with engraving, no metal is removed with debossing/embossing.

Delftware Dutch earthenware with a tin glaze, which is also made in Arnhem, Rotterdam, Dordrecht, Makkum and Harlingen. Very popular in Europe since the start of the 17th century.

Earthenware porous, baked clay

Eggshell porcelain very thin porcelain


Enamel a decoration technique where metal oxides (in the form of a paste or oily substance) are applied to metal, ceramic or glass and it is then burnt into the base material

Engraving cutting decorative patterns into a metal surface with the help of a sharp object.

Etching decorating a glass or metal surface by means of acid; the parts that need to stay unmarked are protected by a layer of lacquer or wax. The term is also used to describe the graphic technique, where according to the aforementioned procedure, a plate covered with ink is pressed onto the surface.

Favrile iridescent glass, developed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, with metal oxides.

Gilded bronze or Ormolu gilded, bronze-like alloy of copper, zinc and tin.

Glaze glasslike cover for ceramic which give it a glossy look and closes off the porous base.

Gouache water-based paint that can be used in an opaque method.

Hallmark a mark or letter that shows in what year a silver object was approved.

Ice glass glass that has a craquelure structure

Inkstand a set of matching writing materials, such as an ink pot, sand shaker and pen holder. Matching stationary (for sealing wax) can also be found.

Inlay various techniques in which a material (like marble, wood, metal or nacre) is placed in grooves in another base material (usually wood).

Laquerware layers of varnish that come from the sap of the Chinese Lacquer Tree. They were used as the basis for Eastern decorations. European varnish is also called Vernis Martin.

Lost-wax casting casting method in which a wax model is covered with metal. The wax is then melted and pours out of it so that liquid metal can now be poured into the mould.

Lustreware ceramic with a metal-ish surface that has been created by adding metal pigments (usually silver or copper).

Matting hammering a metal surface or using acid to hammer a dense pattern of dots.

Modernism a style from the twenties and thirties that was created  due to the necessity to break with the past and to be able to express the industrial era. The style prefers geometrical shapes and smooth surfaces.

Murano glass blower island near Venice, it came into being in 1292 when the factories had to be removed from the city due to fire hazard.

Nickel is an alloy of copper, zinc and elementary nickel used as base metal to electrolytically silver plate an object.

Noppenglas, a Dutch term for glass to which molten glass droplets have been applied as decoration, the so-called ‘noppen’.

Painted ceramics porous earthenware that is covered with a tin glaze. The decoration or motif is painted on the ceramic before it is fired for the second time. This process is done in a pottery.

Pâte the french word for ‘paste’ which is used for a mixture of raw materials needed to create porcelain.

Pâte de verre (glass paste) translucent glass made by applying glass powder onto a heated glass surface.

Patina the colouring of a wooden or metal surface that has aged, has been worn or has been treated with chemicals.

Pearl edge a decorative edge of densely set pearls that has been cast, applied or reprocessed.

Pedestal the bottom part of the construction that supports a sculpture or a vase.

Plastic synthetic material with a Polymer structure that can easily be shaped when it is warm. Plate this term was originally used by the English as a name for silver dishware. Nowadays, it is used for silver-plated objects

Polychrome a decoration with more than two colours.

Postmodernism a reaction to modernism. It started in the fifties and promoted the reintroduction of bright colours and decorative architectural motifs.

Pressed glass glass that has been poured into a mould and was then pressed to form the object.

Punching a production method in which a metal object is shaped between two stamps that decorate the item as well.

Seam a visible separation between the different cast pieces from which a metal item is built.

Sezessionistic movement an art movement that went against the conservative taste. It was founded in Munich, Berlin and Vienna near the end of the 19th century and favoured pure, abstract designs.

Sgraffito a ceramic decoration that is created by scratching through a coloured layer of slip so the colour of the base can be seen.

Soft or imitation porcelain porcelain made of one of the other possible recipes, with materials such as soapstone or calcined bone ash, but without kaolin (like in hard porcelain).

Solder lead that is used to fix the cracks and holes in silver.

Spelter zinc alloy an inexpensive alternative for bronze in statues.

Streamline a style with flowing lines and aerodynamical shapes which became important in the American Art Deco

Turning when working on wood or metal on a lathe

Twice-fired baking the porcelain for the second time so the glaze is molten into the biscuit.Unica a Dutch term for an individually designed and produced glass of ceramic item

Yellow copper, old name for brass, an alloy of (red) copper and zinc.