Glossary

Word of the Day!

volatile


Rapidly evaporating (as are many solvents). Or, tending to vary often or widely; inconstant. Or, capable of quickly becoming violent. (pr. vah"leh-tl')


m (or m.)

Abbreviation for meter

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macramé

Long cords knotted to form a pattern. This is an old craft revived to great popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. (pr. mack"rah-may')

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magenta

A color also known as fuchsia and hot pink; a moderate to vivid purplish red, named after the town of Magenta, in northwest Italy. One of the primary colors. (pr. mah-jen'tah)

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mahlstick (or maulstick)

A long wooden stick used by painters to support and steady the hand that holds the brush, conserving the arm's strength, and protecting the painting's surface. (pr. mahl'stick) Also spelled maulstick.

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majolica (or maiolica)

A type of earthenware which originated during the Renaissance. It is coated with a tin glaze which produces the effect of a rich, enameled surface. Majolica is often lustered. Although the name majolica is derived from Majorca (an island east of Spain from which Italy imported early specimens from Islamic Spain), the name is often reserved for Italian examples. (pr. my-ah'le-kuh)

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malleable

Capable of being shaped or formed, whether by hand or with tools; plastic, pliable, pliant, ductile. Materials especially considered malleable are moist clay, warm wax, and molten glass and metals.

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mallet

A wooden hammer used to apply force to chisels in wood carving.

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mandala

A frequent diagrammatic structure in Buddhist art. Mandalas represent the cosmos, and are used for meditation.

Example: Taima Mandala, 13th century, Japan

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manifesto

A declaration of a group of artists' goals, policies, and aims. Usually these aims are politically or socially motivated, and a manifesto is written to bring about change.

Example: The Surrealist manifesto was written by Andre Breton in 1924.

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maquette

A small sculpture made as a preparatory study or model for a full scale work. (pr. Ma kett')

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marble

A type of stone traditionally used in sculpture and architecture. A metamorphic rock (metamorphosed calcite or dolomite), finely grained, dense, with a non-directional structure, capable of taking a high polish, and often irregularly veined and colored by impurities. White marble has been quarried in Greece, Italy, Turkey, India, China, and the US. Among the most renowned sources have been the quarries of Carrara in the Apuan Alps of Italy. Confusingly, the name marble is sometimes used to refer to any stone that takes a polish, although such stones may include alabasters, granites, and serpentines, as well as true marbles.

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marbling

Mottling or streaking that resembles the veined texture of marble. To mottle or streak with colors and veins in imitation of marble. Such painting on hard surfaces, such as furniture and architecture is sometimes called faux-marble, a craft revived in the 1980s. It may also refer to the application of oil paints floated on water onto paper. Marbled paper was commonly used as endpapers in books bound in the 19th century.

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marionette

In puppetry, a small, complete figure, usually of a person or animal and made of wood that is moved from above by strings that are attached to its jointed arms, legs, and body.

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marouflage

A painting done on canvas and then cemented to a wall or panel. (pr. may"re-flahzh')

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mars pigments

Artificial iron oxide pigments, yielding strong tints from yellow through brown to violet.

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masonite

A trademark used for a type of fiberboard employed as a surface for painting, but manufactured principally as wallboard for use in insulation, paneling, etc. It is dark brown, with one side that is very smooth, and the other bearing the texture of an impressed wire screen. Gesso is commonly applied to it as a ground, and can be quite permanent. It sometimes occurs in print in lowercase.

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masonry

A construction made of brick, stone, or concrete.

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mastaba

In Egyptian architecture, a rectangular tomb with sloped sides. A stepped pyramid is made of several mastabas stacked on top of each other.

Example: Imhotep, Saqqara, Egypt, c. 2675-2625 B.C.

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mastic

A gum or resin obtained from certain coniferous trees, used in varnish, employed as a medium, as an adhesive, or as a sealing agent.

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mat

A decorative border placed around a picture, often under glass, also called matboard. It serves as a frame or provides contrast between the picture and the frame. Or, to put a mat around a picture. Also, a thin, flat sheet of glass fiber material used to reinforce laminating resin, hollow cast cement fondue, and modeled concrete sculpture. Surface mat is quite fine, chopped strand mat is coarse, loosely woven fabric. Also, having a dull, flat, non-reflective, sometimes roughly textured finish, perhaps of paint, metal, paper or glass ; the opposite of glossy.

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matboard

A mat that is typically cut from a heavy cardboard. Matboard serves two very important functions in the overall framing of a picture. First and foremost it protects the artwork and second it showcases and enhances the subject being framed. It is important to protect works of art on paper, photographs, and other framed objects from direct contact with glass. Matboard provides a barrier from the airborne pollutants, moisture, acids and other damaging impurities that can impact the life of the framed piece. Matboard when used correctly also leads your eye into the artwork, enhancing the overall effect.

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material

The substance or substances out of which something is or can be made. Examples include: clays, fibers, glass, papers, plastics, metals, pigments, stones, woods, etc. In body art the material might be the artist's body. In conceptual art there might be no material at all.

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maturing point

The temperature at which all gases are driven out of clay. And the temperature at which powdered glaze or enamel fuses.

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maul

A wooden club used to strike a wood carving chisel. A maul is shaped from a single piece of wood taken from the base of a young tree.

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media

The plural form of medium. Also, may refer to mass media.

See Also:  mixed media

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medium

The material or technique used by an artist to produce a work of art. It may also refer to the vehicle or solvent with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint of the proper consistency. The plural form is media.

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megalith

A description for prehistoric constructions made of very large stones.

Example: Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, England

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megilp

A mixture of linseed oil and mastic (or turpentine) used as a medium.

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melamine

A synthetic resin or material manufactured from that resin. Melamine can be purchased in tough, non-porous sheets.

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melting point

See temperature.

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mesh

The size of the holes in a screen or sieve; also, to strain through a sieve.

See Also:  gauge

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metal

Any of a category of elements that can easily have a glossy surface, can be melted or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wires. Typical metals form basic oxides with oxygen, salts with nonmetals, and alloys with each other. Examples include aluminum, antimony, chrome, copper, gold, iron, lead, nickel, palladium, platinum, silver, tin, titanium, and zinc.

See Also:  annealbrassbritanniabronzefoilMohs Scale of Hardness (or Mohs Scale)pewtersolderingtemperaturewelding

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meter

A measure of distance, a little longer than a yard. To convert meters into centimeters, multiply them by 100; into feet, x 3.28084; into inches, x 39.3701; into yards, x 1.0936. To convert square meters into square feet, multiply them by 10.7639; into square yards, x 1.19599. To convert cubic meters into cubic feet, multiply them by 35.3147, into cubic yards, x 1.30795. Abbreviated m.

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mezzoprint (or mezzotint)

In printmaking, an engraving process that is tonal rather than linear, or prints produced by this process. Developed in the 17th century, mezzotint was used widely as a reproductive printing process, especially in England, until photographic processes overtook it in the mid-19th century. A copper or steel plate is first worked all over with a curved, serrated tool called a rocker, raising burrs over the surface to hold the ink and print as a soft dark tone. The design is then created in lighter tones by scraping out and burnishing areas of the roughened plate so that they hold less ink, or none in highlights. Details may be sharpened by engraving or etching in a "mixed mezzotint."

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mica

Aluminum and other silicate minerals. It is found usually in granite, either in scales or crystals.

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mild steel

Steel which contains only a small proportion of carbon. This is the kind of steel most commonly used for construction of large structures.

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mineral spirits

A petroleum distillate used as a paint thinner substituting for turpentine. It is less expensive than turpentine, less sticky, and has a less enduring odor. There is a deodorized version which costs considerably more. Hazardous in several ways, it is quite flammable, necessitating special care in its use, storage and disposal. It is known in Britain as white spirits.

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miscible

Refers to liquids which can be mixed in all proportions.

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miter

To cut two pieces of wood at 45° so that they align perfectly at right angles.

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mixed media

A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage that are combined in a single composition. (Don't confuse mixed-media with multimedia.)

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ml (or ml.)

Abbreviation for milliliter.

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mm (or mm.)

Abbreviation for millimeter.

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mobile

A construction made of objects that are balanced and arranged on wire arms and suspended so as to move freely. Alexander Calder (American, 1898-1976) introduced this art form in the 1930s. In 1932, a month before he first referred to his wire sculptures with moving parts using this term, it was Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968) who suggested to Calder that he call his pieces "mobiles". (pr. mo'beel")

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model

A person who poses for an artist. Also, the preliminary form of a sculpture, often finished in itself, but preceding the final casting or carving. Or, a small-sized version of something. Architects make small models of buildings with furnishings and landscaping to show clients how the finished product will look. Or, to make by shaping a plastic substance, such as clay-- either modeling clay or ceramic clay-- or wax. (In this sense, it is much more appropriate to use the term model than it is to use the term mold-- a common mistake.)

See Also:  maquettemodeling

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modeling

A sculpture technique in which a three-dimensional form is shaped in a soft material such as clayeither plasticine or ceramic clay-- or wax. The term also refers to the effect of light on a three-dimensional form. The three-dimensional quality of such a form is emphasized by means of light, shadow, and color. Reproducing the effect of light, shadow, and color in a drawing of such a form makes it seem more realistic. For example, Masaccio (Italian, 1401-c. 1428) modeled the figures in his painting of The Holy Trinity to make them appear solid and round.

See Also:  chiaroscurovalue

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modeling clay

A non-hardening substance used for modeling sculptures-- for sketches, models for casting, and by students. It is plastic (in the sense of being workable). It cannot be used for permanent work (unlike ceramic, water-based clays, it is never fired or glazed). Although it becomes less useful as its oil either dries or is absorbed from it (making it brittle) or as it picks up impurities, but it can be reused for many years if kept relatively clean. Even new it can vary greatly in quality. Most common varieties are made of clay mixed with petroleum greases, oils (typically linseed oil), and a pigment. It softens as it is modeled by the hands (because of their warmth), pieces joined to each other by pressing them together and blending with fingertips. Equipment that might be used with modeling clay includes modeling tools and armature. Molds can be made from modeling clay. There are numerous commercially produced types, including the brand named Plasticine. (Hint: before washing it off of hands and other surfaces, scrub with a dry paper towel.) It is sometimes called model clay.

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modeling tools

Tools for working with or modeling clay.

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module

A unit upon which an entire work's dimensions are based. Modules have been used in Minimalist sculpture as well as architecture.

Example: Sol LeWitt's Three Cubes with One Half-Off, 1969

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Mohs Scale of Hardness (or Mohs Scale)

A scale for classifying stones based on relative hardness, determined by the ability of harder minerals to scratch softer ones. The scale includes the following minerals, in order from softest to hardest: talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, orthoclase, quartz, topaz, corundum, diamond. The scale is named for mineralogist Friedrich Mohs (German, 1773-1839).

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mold (or mould)

A hollow form for shaping (casting) a fluid or plastic medium, such as clay, plaster, plastic or molten metal. In papermaking, the lower screen that holds the pulp (the upper frame is a deckle).

See Also:  coregelatinlatexlost wax castingmother moldrelease agentsilicone rubber

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mold release

See release agent.

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monochromatic

Consisting of only a single color or hue; may include its tints and shades.

See Also:  camaïeumonochromatic

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monograph

A nonfiction book on a specific, often limited subject; most likely about the work of one artist.

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monoprint

One of a series of prints in which each has some differences of color, design, texture, etc. applied to an underlying common image. Not to be confused with a monotype.

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monotype

A print made by drawing with oil on copper, which is printed on a press. The image transfers directly to the paper and therefore each monotype can only be printed one time.

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montage

A single pictorial composition made by juxtaposing or superimposing many pictures or designs. The art or process of making such a composition. Also, a rapid succession of different images or shots in a movie. (pr. mahn-tahzh')

See Also:  collage

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mordant

In etching, a bath of either an acid or a diluted acid in which a plate or a piece of glass to be etched is placed.

See Also:  aqua fortis

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mordant gilding

Oil gilding.

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mortice (or mortise)

A cavity in a material (usually wood, but sometimes stone or metal) into which a tenon is made to fit in order to create a joint. Mortices are usually rectangular or trapezoidal in shape. Also, to make such a cavity or to join pieces of material with them.

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mosaic

A picture or design made of tiny pieces (called tesserae) of colored stone, glass, tile or paper adhered to a surface. It is typically decorative work for walls, vaults, ceilings or floors, the tesserae set in plaster or concrete. This technique was used by the Romans in regularly shaped pieces of marble in its natural colors to decorate their villas. It was later adopted by Byzantine artists using pieces of glass with irregular surfaces to tell the Christian story on the walls of their churches. (pr. mo-zay'ic)

Example: Justinian Mosaics, Ravenna, Italy, c. 547

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mother mold

In casting, a mold outside of another mold. A mother mold is generally composed of two pieces which surround the sections of a piece-mold. Sometimes called main case.

See Also:  foundrylost wax casting

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mottling

The appearance of spots or blotches of color in paint or on paper.

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mucilage

Gum or any viscous substance derived from plants. May refer to a type of adhesive made with such ingredients.

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multimedia

In personal computing, software and applications that combine text, high quality sound, graphics, and animation or video.

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multiple

More than one of the same object or subject. Sometimes meant as an equivalent to edition, the term traditionally preferred by makers of prints and cast sculptures.

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mural

A large design or picture, generally created on the wall of a public building, sometimes using the fresco technique

Example: Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry, 1932-1933

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