Pottery, Ceramics, Porcelain, Earthenware and Stoneware [Explained]

When working with beginner ceramics artists I am often asked what are the three types of ceramics?

Since there are so many people unsure on what the answer is I decided to write a straight to the point article so after reading this you will know what those types are and what they are used for.

Let’s get to it.

What Are The Three Types Of Ceramics?

  1. Earthenware
  2. Stoneware
  3. Porcelain

Earthenware

Earthenware is a form of clay that, when fired, becomes hard and somewhat brittle. Earthenware is a porous material that allows air and water to flow through the clay. This is what leads to it’s more brittle consistency when unglazed.

Earthenware ceramics must be fired in a kiln or oven at lower temperatures. They are best fired in the range of 1,000 to 1,150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Earthenware should be glazed following it’s first firing. Then fired again which will create a waterproof seal on your ceramics project.

Read more for the best ceramic glaze

Stoneware

Stoneware is also derived from a specific type of clay. Stoneware should be fired at higher temperatures than earthenware. Kiln temperature should be at least 1,200 degrees Celsius.

Once fired, stoneware is very durable which is where it’s name has been derived. It is hard like stone.

Stoneware is much denser than earthenware and it is waterproof after one firing. No glaze is required for stoneware.

Porcelain

Porcelain is derived from cultivated refined clay. For porcelain, firing temperatures must be extremely hot. The best temps for firing porcelain is in the range of 1,200 to 1,450 degrees Celsius.

Once fired, porcelain is a very durable material that has a beautiful shine to it. Most porcelain is of a translucent white look.

Most people are familiar with ancient Chinese examples of porcelain as they were the first known culture to perfect the process of making porcelain.

The first known examples of porcelain go back to 1600BC. There are a number of other names associated with porcelain such as bone china and fine china.

Bone china particularly refers to a porcelain making process that includes ground up bone within the clay. The addition of the bone created a very strong and durable ceramic.

Conclusion

The three types of ceramics are earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.

The main difference between these three types of clay is the temperature at which they are fired and the strength they offer once fired.

All three types of ceramics offer strength and durability (once earthenware has been glazed) but stoneware and porcelain are the strongest of the three types.

Much of the finished quality of a piece created from each of these types of ceramics depends on the quality of the clay used to make them. When using high quality clay and proper firing temperatures all three can provide durable and waterproof ceramic items.

For more ceramic guides and tips check out these articles

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