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Glossary

Word of the Day!

plate


A smooth, flat, relatively thin, rigid object of uniform thickness. May refer to any of the following: a sheet of metal, electroplate, a sheet of any material prepared to be inked in order to make prints, a print (especially when produced for a book), a light-sensitive sheet of glass or metal used in a photographic process, or a very shallow vessel


f/stop

In photography, the focal length of a camera divided by the diameter of its aperture. Knowing the f/stop, a light meter can measure the light on the subject, and calculate the exposure time.

fabricate

In general, to make; to create. Often more specifically, to construct or assemble something.

façade

The central elevation or face of a building. Usually the façade is the main side; however, it can be any other side when being stressed architecturally.

Example: West End of Chartes Cathedral, Chartes, France, begun c. 1135

facsimile

An exact copy or reproduction, as of a document. A method of transmitting images or printed matter by electronic means, usually by telephone. Also, an image transmitted this way, commonly called a fax. (pr. fack-si'mi-lee)

faience (or faïence)

Glazed earthenware. Although the term originally referred only to the tin glazed earthenware made at Faenza, Italy, it is sometimes used to refer to a paste which produces a glaze-like surface when fired. Also, glazed earthenware used for architectural purposes. Although the term is sometimes used to mean pottery of all kinds, this breadth of meaning is widely considered incorrect. (pr. feye-ahns')

See Also:  lead glazemajolica (or maiolica)

fat

Describes a paint having a high proportion of oil.

See Also:  fat over lean

fat over lean

The recommended means of layering oil colors: the first layer of oil colors should be leanest (least oil, or more thinner with less oil) followed by layers with progressively more fat (more oil.) Following this principle results in a work less likely to crack after aging. Conversely, in order to encourage cracking, the painter should do the reverse.

Federal Arts Project

A project of the United States Government which ran from 1935 to 1943 to assist artists and to decorate public buildings. Murals, paintings, sculptures, prints, and numerous other works were commissioned of most of the major artists working in America.

Example: Diego Rivera's Man at the Crossroads was completed for the Federal Arts Project in Rockefeller Center, 1933

See Also:  War Projects Act (or WPA)

felts

Absorbent pads used to dry the sheets in papermaking.

See Also:  absorption

femmage

A type of collage that includes fabric art, traditionally made by women.

ferrous

Composed of or containing iron. Ferrous metals include alloys of iron, such as steel. Only ferrous metals are capable of magnetization.

ferrule

The metal or plastic device that that aligns and anchors paintbrush bristles or hairs in an adhesive. The ferrule is attached to the handle by crimping or by binding wires. (pr. fe'rool)

fettling

The process of cleaning and finishing the surface of a piece of clay or metal work, especially the edges, and in the case of cast work, the seam lines (flashing).

fettling knife

A knife designed for working with clay. To fettle is to trim unwanted clay from edges, etc. Also called a potter's knife.

fiber

Thread, yarn, or fabric, such as weaving.

See Also:  textile

fiberglass

A light and durable material consisting of a plastic resin which has been reinforced with glass fiber. Sometimes called spun glass.

field

A background area or an entire physical plane, often of one color and/or texture. Also, a sphere of activity, or a context, or a discourse. And, the area in which an image is rendered by the lens of an optical instrument; also called field of view. In computer terminology, an element of a database record in which one piece of information is stored.

figurative art

Art that depicts recognizable forms or figures from life. Figurative art is also called representational art.

Example: Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, 1942

figure

The form of a human, an animal, or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form. Also, a numerical or other symbol; a written or printed character; a graphic representation of a form; a figure of speech.

filbert

A brush with a conical shape.

file

A steel tool with a grooved surface used to shape, cut, or smooth materials by abrasion. A file which has a surface both toothed and perforated is a rasp.

See Also:  riffler

filigree

A delicate, lacelike, and intricate ornament usually made from thin wire.

See Also:  gauge

filler

A powdered or ground substance added to a paint or sculpture material to give extra bulk or body. Fillers for resin also make the material opaque.

See Also:  aggregateextender

filling compound

A paste which can be spread into a break or indentation in a surface. The compound can be filed down and smoothed when hard.

fine silver

Silver that is 99.9 per cent pure; has a higher melting point than sterling silver.

See Also:  temperature

finish

Something that concludes, completes, or perfects, especially the last coating or treatment of a surface, or the surface texture resulting from such a coating or treatment. Also, a material used in finishing or surfacing. And, the point at which an artist decides to stop working on an artwork.

fire brick

A brick made of clay that withstands high temperatures in a kiln.

See Also:  refractory

fire gilding

A process for the gilding of metal-- usually copper, copper alloy, or silver-- also known as mercury gilding, and as ormolu. Powdered gold (also known as moulu) mixed with mercury is applied to the surface of the metal as a paste and then fired. The mercury evaporates as highly toxic fumes, and the gold is fixed. This surface must then be burnished.

firing

A process of applying heat to make hard pottery in an oven-like enclosure called a kiln. Also the means of fixing colors to ceramic surfaces.

See Also:  glaze

firing cracks

Cracks appearing in a cooling material, caused by the tension from the different rates of its shrinking. For example, in clay after its firing, or in metal after it has been cast.

firing skin

The hard, smooth surface of various fired clays.

fix

To place something (perhaps a pigment) in a secure or firm position.

See Also:  fixative

fixative

A thin varnish, natural or synthetic, that is sprayed over charcoal, pastel and other drawings to protect them from smearing, rubbing, or falling off the paper. All or some will alter the original colors slightly. Common hairsprays work well as student-grade fixatives.

See Also:  fix

flaming

A process for finishing and hardening a wax model by passing a candle flame over the surface.

flammable

Easily ignited by a flame or spark, high temperatures, etc. Highly flammable substances should be well isolated from other substances, stored and disposed of in sturdy, nonflammable containers.

See Also:  hazardoustoxic

flange

A protruding rim, edge, rib, or collar, used to strengthen an object, hold it in place, or attach it to another object. Often simply a metal ring which flares at its base so it can be screwed to a flat surface; and when a rod is inserted into the flange, it is held at right angles to the surface.

flashing

The thin rough-edged projections on a casting made from a piece mold from which the cast metal has seeped or forced its way into seams, joins or cracks in the mold. On the exterior of a cast these are generally sawn off and filed down.

flask

The container used for making a mold.

flat

The quality of a smooth, even, broad surface; a surface without curvature; especially a horizontal one. Also, lacking variety in tint or shading; uniform. Not glossy; mat (also spelled matte). And, it may refer to a flat-shaped brush

flat chisel

A chisel with a straight cutting edge used for finishing and shaping in wood or stone carving.

flipbook (or flip book)

A small book consisting of a series of pictures that give the illusion of continuous movement when the thumb is placed so that the pages will flip past at a steady pace.

See Also:  animationkinetic

flocculent

an acid material which causes clay particles to adhere together

flow

To melt.

See Also:  temperature

flux

A chemical used to clean oxides and other impurities from metal to assist fusion when metals are welded or brazed. In ceramics, flux causes or promotes melting. Group of minerals which reduce the melting point of silica in the ceramic body to form a glass or glaze.

See Also:  deoxidize

foam board

A stiff sheet of foam laminated with paper on both of its sides. It may be of any of several thicknesses. Although more expensive than cardboards, it is preferred over them for its lighter weight, its stiffness, and for the ease with which it can be cut. It is often employed as a surface on which to mount two-dimensional work, and as a material with which to construct three-dimensional work (such as architectural models).

See Also:  bristol boardcardingcard stockmatboard

focal length

In photography, the distance between the lens (its rear nodal point) and the focal plane (the film's or paper's surface).

See Also:  aperturefocal planef/stop

focal plane

In photography, an image line at right angles to the optical axis passing through the focal point. This forms the plane of sharp focus when a camera is set on infinity.

See Also:  aperturefocal lengthf/stop

focus

A point of convergence, such as the point at which rays of light converge in an optical system, or from which they diverge; also called focal point. The clarity of an image, such as when rendered by an optical system; or to make an image clear.

See Also:  focal lengthfocal planephotography

foil

A thin, flexible leaf or sheet of metal. Also, a thin layer of polished metal placed under a mounted gem to increase its brilliance. And, a person or thing that by contrast underscores or enhances the distinctive characteristics of another.

foliate

Of, relating to, or shaped like leaves. Also, to make (hammering, cutting, etc.) metal into leaf or foil, or to apply leaf or foil to a surface.

folio

A book or manuscript of the largest standard size, 30-38 cm (12-15 inches) in height, consisting of sheets of paper which have been folded once.

foreground

In a painting, the foreground is the section closest, in the depicted space, to the viewer. Painters of the 15th century in Italy often placed figures in the immediate foreground, as if in a frieze.

Example: Domenico Ghirlandaio's Birth of the Virgin, 1485-1490

foreshortening

A way of drawing or painting an object or painting so that it seems to go back into space.

Example: Andrea Mantegna's Dead Christ, c. 1501

forge

A furnace or hearth, or workshop where metals are heated or wrought; a smithy. To heat and form metal this way.

form

In its widest sense, total structure; a synthesis of all the visible aspects of that structure united to create its distinctive character. The form of a work is what enables us to apprehend it. Form also refers to an element of art that is three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) and encloses volume. For example, a triangle, which is two-dimensional, is a shape, but a pyramid, which is three-dimensional, is a form. Cubes, spheres, pyramids, cones, and cylinders are examples of various forms. Also, all of the elements of a work of art independent of their meaning. Formal elements are primary features which are not a matter of semantic significance -- including color, dimensions, line, mass, medium, scale, shape, space, texture, value; and the principles of design under which they are placed-- including balance, contrast, dominance, harmony, movement, proportion, proximity, rhythm, similarity, unity, and variety.

found image (or found material; found object)

An image, material, or object, not originally intended as a work of art, which is obtained, selected, and exhibited by an artist, often without being altered in any way. The Dadaists and Surrealists originated the use of found images/materials/objects. Although it can be either a natural or manufactured image/material/object, the term ready-made refers only to those which were manufactured. Also known in the French, objet trouvé.

found object

An object, image, photograph, or other foreign item which is found by an artist outside of an art realm, and incorporated into a work of art. Sculptor Joseph Cornell created collaged display boxes from found objects.

Example: Joseph Cornell's Untitled (Ostend), c. 1954

foundry

A studio where sculptures are cast from plaster and other molds into metal of all types. Some artists specialize in bronze casting, and others commission foundries to complete an object from a model.

See Also:  castlost wax casting

four dimensional

The fourth dimension is time. So a thing which is four-dimensional has height, width, depth, and moves, or otherwise changes over a period of time. Film and videos exist in the first, second and fourth dimensions. Comic strips, although experienced in the fourth dimension, as we experience everything over a period of time, do not themselves move.

See Also:  animationkineticmobile

frame

Something made to enclose a picture, or composed of parts and joined together, or to make such things.

free carving

Carving without the use of a pointing machine. Free carving generally follows a drawing on one or more faces of a block. With more and more carved sculptures having been executed by pointing machines after clay models, purists among Western sculptors of the early 20th century used this term in an effort to recognize the fundamental difference between the processes of modeling and carving.

free standing

Sculpture that is three-dimensional, and in-the-round. In particular, free-standing figures are those without any type of support.

Example: Kouros, from Attica, Greece, c. 600 B.C.

freestanding sculpture (or free-standing sculpture)

A type of sculpture that is surrounded on all sides by space. Also called sculpture in-the-round. To be viewed from all sides; freestanding. The opposite of relief.

fresco

A method of painting on plaster, either dry (dry fresco or fresco secco) or wet (wet or true fresco). In the latter method, pigments are applied to thin layers of wet plaster so that they will be absorbed and the painting becomes part of the wall.

Example: Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, c. 1495-1498

frieze

An aspect of Classical architecture which is part of the entablature. A frieze is often decorated with sculptural forms, and because of its linear quality, is traditionally often a narrative of allegorical figures.

Example: Maidens from the east façade of Parthenon, Athens, Greece, 442-438 B.C.

frit

A flux used in glazes, stabilized by melting with other ceramic materials and reground to a fine powder.

frottage

The technique of rubbing with crayon or graphite on a piece of paper which has been placed over an object or an image achieved in this way. Also simply referred to as rubbing. Such impressions are usually made from such highly textured subjects as leaves, wood, wire screen, gravestones, and manhole covers.

ft.

Abbreviation for foot or feet.

fugitive colors

Short-lived pigments and dyes-- capable of fading or changing, especially with exposure to light, to atmospheric pollution, or when mixed with certain substances; in each case the result of a chemical change. Examples are the colors in magazine photographs and inexpensive construction papers, especially the yellows, and then reds. While student works are generally forgiven the use of such inexpensive poor-quality pigments, professional artists' works are expected to be made with permanent colors. Tubes and other containers of paint are sometimes labeled with a code indicating a color's degree of permanence.

fuse

To melt; two or more materials joining at a molecular level.

See Also:  absorptionadhesivesalloymetalsolderingtemperaturewelding

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