Bisque (sometimes known as "biscuit") ceramics have been fired but not glazed.
Once clay has been formed and shaped into a desired object, such as a vessel, the work is still soft and malleable. When the shaped object is completely dry, it goes through the first stage of firing, known as bisque firing, to strengthen the form.
The bisque firing causes permanent changes to occur in the clay, resulting in a harder and more resilient object than that which went in the kiln. Objects that have been bisqued are porous, and absorb water and other liquids. They are hard enough for additional work, such as decorating, glazing, and a further glaze firing.
A popular use for white ceramic bisque porcelain was the making of bisque dolls and figurines.
According to the V&A, “These porcelain figures were much more expensive than glazed and enamelled versions, as there was no covering to mask imperfections. Although white, porous and difficult to clean, biscuit porcelain was fashionable for the decoration of dining tables in 18th-century France and Britain.”
Watch a short film: 'How Does Bisque Firing Work?'
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