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Glossary

Word of the Day!

diffraction grating


Sheets of glass, plastic, or metal inscribed with grids whose lines or dots diffract any light directed at the gridded surface and break this light up into its color spectra so that the rays may be measured accurately.


B

When found on a tube or other container of paint, indicates a color of less than permanent quality, though fairly durable.

b and w

Abbreviation for black and white.

See Also:  gradationgrisaillemonochromaticphotographyvalue

baby spot

A spotlight of 500 watts or less. Or, a very small design or illustration.

back iron

In sculpture modeling, a metal frame set on a wood base, which is attached to an armature and supports the weight of material being modeled.

ball clay

In ceramics, an ingredient in a number of clay bodies because of its plasticity. Ball clay may be black or gray in color but fires almost white. It contracts considerably as it dries and when fired.

ball mill

An enclosed, mechanically revolved cylinder containing flint or porcelain balls which are used to grind ceramic oxides or material mixed with water.

banker

A heavy wooden workbench, which sculptors use to support work being carved or modeled. The top may be fitted with a turntable so the work can be easily rotated.

baren

A small, flat pad of woven bamboo leaves used for impressing a print from a wood block.

barium

An inert white mineral used to extend colors and as a base for dyes. A soft metal, barium is used to deoxidize copper, bronze, and some other alloys. Elemental symbol Ba; atomic number 56; atomic weight 137.34; melting point 725°C; specific gravity 3.50; valence 2

base

A plinth or podium on which a sculpture is displayed, or the portion of a sculpture on which its weight rests. The stepped base of a Greek temple is called a crepidoma.

See Also:  footground

basilica

Roman basilicas are public buildings used to assemble, and were rectangular with a door on a long side. Christian basilicas are religious buildings built on an axial, cross-shaped, plan, with an apse on the eastern end.

Example: Basilica of Constantine, Rome, c. 310-320

basis weight

The actual weight of a ream of paper, normally 500 sheets cut to its basic size. The basic size varies with different grades of paper. In most foreign countries, the standard size is a square meter, with the weight being expressed in grams per square meter.

bas-relief

A French term meaning "low-raised work." This art is also called relief sculpture-- meant to be seen primarily from one direction-- as opposed to sculpture which is "in the round." (pr. bah'ruh-leef')

bat

A thick plaster slab on which wet clay is left to lose sufficient moisture to make it plastic. Also, a disk which can be attached to a potter's wheel so that a pot can be thrown upon it, then the bat removed with the pot still on it, so that another can be attached to throw another pot, the earlier pot trimmed and removed from the bat when it is leather hard. Such round bats are often made of plaster or plastic. Sometimes spelled batt.

bat wash

A mixture of flint and water used to clean drops of glaze from kiln shelves

batik

A method of dyeing cloth which involves the use of removable wax to repel (resist) the dye on parts of the design where dye is not desired. Batik originated in Indonesia, where it's making continues to thrive. (pr. buh-teek')

batten

In weaving, flat stick used to pack the weft threads into place.

beader

A punch with a hollow end used in chasing to leave dotted impressions on metal surfaces.

beeswax

Wax from honeycombs, used as a medium in modeling, in encaustic painting, in wax varnishes, in etching grounds, as a resist in batik, and other techniques/media.

benday

In printing, a process using screens of various dot patterns to mechanically produce shading effects. This process was invented by Benjamin Day (1839-1916). Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997) included benday as one of the elements in his paintings signifying Pop Art qualities.

beni-e (or beni-ye; benizuri-e; beni-zuri-ye)

In Japanese art tradition, a two-color print in pink and green, with its dominant tone of rose-red derived from saffron. They typically produce a strong color vibration. And, the method of making such prints.

See Also:  complementary colors

bentonite

A fine-grained compound, similar in composition to primary clay. It is used to give plasticity to clay bodies, and extensively in glazes to prevent settling.

benzine

A toxic, flammable hydrocarbon used as a solvent, as a rubber cement thinner, and as a cleaning solution on photographs.

bevel

The meeting of a line or surface with another at any angle other than 90°, or the angle at which they meet. Also, carving or cutting to make a bevel; a chamfer. It may also be an instrument which is formed by joining two rules as adjustable arms in order to measure or draw angles of any size or to fix a surface at an angle; an instrument also known as a bevel square.

See Also:  bezel

bezel

A bevel on the edge of a cutting tool, such as a chisel. Or, a thin wall or rim of metal that anchors a gem stone in place.

bibelot

A small art object, which is either rare or decorative. Also, a miniature book, especially one finely made. (pr. bee'be-lo")

bilateral

Refers to two sides.

bin

A container that both holds and displays a number of two-dimensional works of art. Although not an optimal method of exhibiting such works, bins are often used in galleries as an economical way to present them for sale.

binary colors

Colors made by the mixing of two hues. Examples are orange, green, and purple

binder

The ingredient in the vehicle of a paint which adheres the pigment particles to one another and to the ground. It creates uniform consistency, solidity, and cohesion.

See Also:  solvent

biscuit

Pottery that has been fired once to harden it, prior to glazing. Also called bisque.

bisque

Pottery that has been fired once to harden it, prior to glazing. Also called biscuit.

bitten in

Etched with acid.

See Also:  etching

bitumen

A tarry substance formerly used as an oil color, now obsolete because of its tendency to crack and darken.

bleach out

A bromide print that is underdeveloped, so that it can be used as the foundation of a line drawing, and then bleached away.

bleed

Pigments that run into an adjoining area or up through coats of paint, usually undesirably. A fuzziness or spreading at the edges of a painted area. And, in the graphic arts, to extra 1/8 inch of image area, to be trimmed later.

See Also:  bleed marksbleeding throughbleed-proof

bleed marks

Lines at the corners of a piece of artwork to be reproduced. The extending area-- the bleed (typically 1/8 inch)-- can be seen outside of the bleed marks.

bleeding through

In oil-based paints, degrees of visibility of underlayers of paint when upper layers become translucent with the passage of time. Or, a color that doesn't set, but affects subsequent overlays.

See Also:  bleedbleed-proof

bleed-proof

Describes inks and paints that will not spread when wetted with water.

See Also:  bleedfugitive colorspermanent pigmentsolventwater-soluble

blend

In artwork, to merge colors applied to a surface, whether with a brush, crayon, colored pencil, or other medium.

See Also:  focusgradationsfumatoshading

blind arcade

In architecture, an arcade having no actual openings, applied as decoration to a wall surface. Also called a wall arcade.

blind pressing

In printmaking, making an embossed print with a non-inked plate. This is also called blind printing. When using an intaglio plate this is more specifically called either an inkless intaglio or a gypsographic print.

block

A body of material for carving. The term is also applied to a piece of material for block-printing, or to wood used to beat and consolidate large masses of clay.

block out

In graphics, to stop out an area with tusche, shellac, stencil film, etc.

See Also:  lithographyblock printingserigraphysilkscreen

block printing

Printing methods in which a block of wood, linoleum or some other material's surface is carved so that an image can be printed from it-- uncarved areas receiving ink which transfers to another surface when the block is pressed against it. Also known as relief printing.

blocking in

Laying down the initial statement of a picture by a broad indication of line, color, and tone.

See Also:  abbozzosketch

bloom

An undesirable, dull, whitish haze that may form on a glossy surface.

blotto painting

A painting made by applying tempera paint onto one side of a sheet of paper, then folding the paper and pressing the two sides together.

blow forming

A method of shaping acrylic sheet. The plastic is heated until pliable, then clamped and subjected to a blast of air which inflates it like a balloon.

blowup

An enlargement. This term is most commonly used in photography.

blue pencil

May refer to a pencil of a certain pale tone used to mark artwork and photographs because it does not reproduce on certain photographic films insensitive to blue. Such films are employed in preparations for some printing processes.

bluing

Coloring the surface of metal by applying concentrated heat from a blowtorch or oxyacetylene torch. Oxidation gives the metal a blue tinge. Also spelled bluing.

blunger

Mechanized container with paddles for mixing clay and water to a fluid slip.

board

May refer either to a piece of lumber or to a sturdy sheet of some other material, such as cardboard, Masonite, etc.

See Also:  bristol boardcard stockmatboardpanel

boasting

Dressing or shaping the surface of a stone block with a broad chisel.

body

A term used to refer to a mass of clay formed from a mixture of clays or clay and ceramic materials.

body color

An opaque paint. Transparent colors are often made opaque by mixing them with some gouache or some opaque white. Often considered synonymous with gouache. Body color has sometimes been used in local areas in drawings, and sometimes as a general medium.

See Also:  whiting

bole

A fine clay used as a preparatory undercoat for gold leaf, its color affecting the appearance of the gold leaf placed upon it. Bole can be pale pink or dark grayish-blue or green, but it is usually an orange or red.

See Also:  semi-matt

bond paper

A good quality paper used for drawing and sketching.

bone china

English soft porcelain made with bone ash as a flux.

bone dry

In ceramics, greenware which is thoroughly room dried.

bone emulsion

A material which, when added to plaster or moist clay, makes it self-hardening.

boss

A circular bulge or knoblike shape, as a round mound protrudes from a flatter area surrounding it. Also, such a raised area used as ornamentation. In architecture, a raised ornament, such as one where the ribs in a vaulted roof intersect. The raised or protruding parts of work are sometimes referred to as bosses, hills, ridges, or mountains, etc., as opposed to the recessed portions in terms of valleys, canyons, hollows, or ditches, etc.

See Also:  embossrelieftexture

bottega

A workshop or studio of a successful artist of the Italian Middle Ages or Renaissance. Bottegas acted as businesses for completing commissions, and were staffed by assistants.

Example: The Bellini family's bottega in Venice, Italy

boucharde

See bush hammer. (pr. boo-shahrd')

bozzetto

An Italian term for a sculptured sketch made as a model, typically of wax or clay. This is the Italian equivalent to a maquette.

bracketing

In photography, shooting the same picture with the same lighting, using several exposure settings. This ensures that one of the shots will be the best of those possible. In lettering, the rounding off of the corners where a serif connects to a stem.

brad

A thin nail with a small head.

brass

A bright yellow or golden alloy of copper and zinc, in the proportion of about two parts of copper to one part zinc. The zinc makes brass stronger and harder than copper is alone. It is malleable and ductile, though variations in its composition make its properties variable. Also, incised plaques or tablets made of brass, many of which were made as memorials to the dead during the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe. Many of these have become so popular among people desiring to make rubbings of them that casts of the originals have been made to use this way in order to preserve the originals.

brayer

A roller used to ink a surface by hand, usually in block printing and in monoprinting.

braze

To join two pieces of metal (often mild steel) by heating to red heat and using a high-melting-point solder such as copper, zinc, or brass. This is known as hard soldering. A flux such as borax is necessary to aid the flow of the alloy.

See Also:  adherefusewelding

breathing

The expansion and contraction of paper, canvas, wood, and other absorbent materials, in response to atmospheric conditions.

See Also:  buckle

breccia

Marble consisting of fragments of one or more marbles or limestones within a natural cement of a contrasting color.

bridge

To support the hand to keep it off of work in progress. Also tool that supports an artist's hand away from the surface of a work may be called an artist's bridge or a mahlstick.

bright

A short, flat brush with a long handle typically used with oil, acrylic and alkyd paints.

bristle

See brush.

bristol board

A sturdy drawing surface used for many types of two-dimensional artwork, including lettering. It is available in several finishes, including a smooth plate finish and a medium vellum. It can be used on both of its sides.

See Also:  paper

britannia

A silver-white alloy of tin, antimony, copper, and sometimes other elements, similar to pewter and once widely used in domestic utensils.

See Also:  metal

broadside

In printing, a large sheet of paper in which is printed text with little or no graphic, often an advertisement or an announcement. Broadsides have often been folded. Also called a broadsheet.

bronze

Any of various alloys of copper and tin, sometimes with tin or other metals. It has commonly been used in casting. A work cast in bronze is sometimes referred to as a bronze. It may also refer to the color of bronze, a moderate yellowish to olive brown. Abbreviated as br. When a bronze decoration is gilt it is called ormolu.

brush

A tool used to apply paints and inks to a surface, consisting of hairs, or bristles held in place by a ferrule attached to a handle. The hair may be from any of several sources, some of which are badger, ox, fitch, squirrel (called "camel hair"), and synthetics, though perhaps the finest is red sable. Bristles are usually from hogs, bristle brushes having a characteristic taper, or curve. Brushes for acrylic and polymer paints generally have nylon bristles compatible with those paints.

brush cleaner

A compound used to clean oil, acrylic, lacquer, etc. from artists' brushes. May also refer to a vessel or holder used for brush cleaning. This last is also called a "brush washer," typically consisting of a metal cup surmounted by a sturdy wire coil designed to hold brushes suspended in a liquid solvent.

brushwork

The particular manner in which an artist applies paint with a brush.

bubble diagram

A sketch made to propose an arrangement of spaces for the design of an environment or structure.

buckle

Waves or bulges that appear in paper and canvas, generally from too much moisture and uneven drying.

See Also:  breathing

burin

A tool used in engraving or incising metal plates and in carving stone. A knob-like wooden handle which holds a metal shaft having a sharp beveled point with one size of several possible shapes, either flat, round, multiple, or elliptical. Also called a graver. May refer to the technique or style of an engraver's work. (pr. byoor'in)

burnisher

A tool with a hard smooth rounded surface used for smoothing and polishing, in metal work, ceramics and gilding. Burnishers are typically metal or stone, and held in a wooden handle.

burnishing

In pottery, compacting a clay surface or slip coating by rubbing in the leather-hard state with a smooth, hard object to give a polished finish.

burr

In engraving and drypoint, the ridge of metal plowed up by the burin, or graver, or needle, on the surface of a metal plate. In a line engraving the burr is removed with a scraper to produce a clean line; in drypoint it is not removed, in order to produce the soft, blurred effect typical of that technique. Also, the rough edge remaining on any material after it has been cast, cut, or drilled.

bush hammer

A steel stone-carving tool, often with a large, brick-like head, having two striking ends, each covered with rows of pyramidal metal points. Found in several sizes, some with a longer, thinner head. Bush hammers are used to dress the surface of a stone by breaking down the rock surface, pounding and removing small amounts at a time. The textures achieved are typical among finishes in traditional French masonry. Granite and other igneous rock are worked with a bush hammer, although now it is usually an electrically motorized version. Also called by its French name, "bouchard" or "boucharde."

bust

A sculpture of a person, especially a portrait consisting of the head and shoulders. Busts became popular in the height of Roman art.

bust peg

The wooden support upon which a sculpture is modeled.

See Also:  banker

butcher paper

A type of paper which is available in various colors, in rolls typically 36 inches wide. It has a fairly hard surface, with one side slightly smoother than the other. This sort of paper is useful for very large drawings, paintings and collages. The colors of the inexpensive sort fade easily, but a more expensive "fadeless" kind is also available.

butcher's tray

A white enameled tray used as a palette for watercolors or acrylics. As you'd guess, butchers have been known to use them too.

butt joint

A right angle made by joining two pieces of wood, broad edge to narrow edge, without mitering.

butterfly

Two pieces of wood bound together to form a cross, suspended from an armature as an extra internal support for the weight of the modeling material.

See Also:  armature

buttress

An exterior architectural element which gives support to a building. The flying buttress allowed the silhouette of the French cathedral to soar to heavenly heights by placing the skeleton of the structure on the outside inside of the interior of the building.

Example: The structure of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, France, begun 1163

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