AskDefine | Define burnishing

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. present participle of burnish

Extensive Definition

Burnishing is a form of pottery decoration in which the surface of the pot is polished, using a hard smooth surface such as a wooden or bone spatula, smooth stones, or even glass bulbs, while it still is in a leathery 'green' state, i.e. before firing. After firing, the surface is extremely shiny. Often the whole outer surface of the pot is thus decorated, but in certain ceramic traditions there is 'pattern burnishing' where the outside and, in the case of open bowls, the inside, are decorated with burnished patterns in which some areas are left matte.
This technique can be applied to concrete masonry units as well, creating a rich, stately appearance that one often can find inside educational facilities, financial institutions and even sporting venues such as Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States. This finish works for exterior use as well, the smooth face lending itself to a stunning mix of textures when combined with rougher, splitface block.
Burnishing can also be applied to wood. Hard woods are best to use with this. Rub them along one another, the more important one should be rubbed down its grain, but crossways will still work, and shortly a glossy sheen will come up and the wood will become slick. Burnishing does not protect the wood like a varnish does, but you do not have to wait for a burnished piece of wood to dry as you would if you had varnished it.
If one wood has a dye in it, or is colored in some way, it may rub off onto the other wood, so choose carefully and perform a test rub first.
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