The terms pottery and ceramics, often paired together or used interchangeably, do not mean the same thing. Yet, there is a reason for the common misunderstanding. All pottery is a ceramic, but not all ceramics are pottery, in the same way all apples are fruits, yet not all fruits are apples.
Ceramics is a solid material hardened by a heat and cooling process. Ceramic is typically a heat resistant material, made from a variety of substances that come from the earth, such as clay, talc, silica and feldspar. Not all ceramic products have the same properties. For example, some ceramic materials are magnetic, others are good insulators and others lose their electrical resistance when cooled. Engineers manipulate the properties of ceramics by controlling what and how much materials are used when making the product. Ceramic items include bricks, glass, pottery and cement.
Ceramic making involves removing the materials from the earth, such as clay, followed by a purification process before crushing the material into fine particles and mixing it with liquid. Sometimes ceramic makers add a glue-like substance when the batch doesn't contain clay. After shaping the material, the piece dries before being exposed to a firing process to harden the material.
Pottery is a ceramic product made from clay. There are three main types of pottery -- porcelain, stoneware and earthenware. Firing or heating pottery affects its strength and appearance. Firing temperature and the clay mixture determine the classification of pottery. The four basic steps in making pottery involves preparing the clay, shaping the clay, glazing and decorating the clay, and firing the clay to harden it.
Earthenware pottery, baked at low temperatures, tends to be bright colored, because firing at higher temperatures diminishes the color brightness of the glaze. Stoneware is a hard pottery, fired at extremely high temperatures. When fired at high temperatures, the surface of the pottery becomes glossy, so pottery makers often don't glaze stoneware. The most delicate form of pottery is porcelain. The two types of porcelain include hard paste and soft paste. Chinaware is made from soft paste porcelain, fired at a low temperature, while hard paste porcelain is fired at high temperatures.
- "World Book, C-Ch";Ceramics; James Reed; 1990
- "World Book, P"; Pottery; William Gates Jr.;1990
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