Pottery or Ceramics : Differences?

If for many people, Pottery and Ceramics are synonyms, these two clay firing techniques do not mean the same thing. In this post, we will focus on the differences between Pottery, Ceramic, Porcelain and Stoneware… to help you see more clearly!

Ceramics: a generic term for firing clay

Ceramics (“keramos” in Greek) is a generic term referring to all objects made of clay fired at low or high temperature (in a ceramic kiln). Ceramics includes several materials: Pottery, Porcelain, Earthenware, Stoneware, enamel, etc. It offers great artistic freedom to potters to create decorative items suitable for all periods and all styles. Ceramics are designed primarily to attract attention rather than to be useful in our daily lives. When we do not know the material of an object, we call it Ceramic. Ceramic craftsmanship is very much alive, different and varied.


Pottery: a part of Ceramics devoted to the manufacture of utilitarian objects

Firstly, Pottery is an integral part of Ceramics. However, it designates the making of terracotta utility pieces, such as dishes, cups, vases, pots, etc. Hence, ceramic art and sculptural pieces are not part of pottery. A Potter is therefore basically a Ceramist specialized in the manufacture of objects for domestic use.


Pottery characteristics

  • Pottery can have different colors like gray, white, red, etc.
  • Pottery is made through different steps such as modeling, assembly, turning, molding and firing (under a temperature of 800-900°C).
  • Potters work the finishes of pieces by hand using a potter’s wheel

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Pottery Vs. Ceramics | Potter Vs. Ceramist: Differences?

  • Ceramics : a general term that includes pottery.
  • The Craftsman, whether he is a Potter or Ceramist, works the clay, designs objects as he imagines them, cooks them and decorates them. The Potters work the terracotta to produce artisanal, artistic and utilitarian objects (crockery, teapots, bowls, vases, etc.). On the other hand, Ceramists use clay to make more artistic and high-end creations, based on Porcelain, Stoneware or Earthenware.

What about stoneware, earthenware and porcelain?

Stoneware, earthenware and porcelain, like pottery, represent a part of ceramics. The only difference is in the composition of the clay but also in its firing temperature. Stoneware is a ceramic material composed of clay and fired at a temperature of 1200-1300°C. The sandstone is a dark gray color bordering on black; beige or also brown. Earthenware (also called fired ceramics) is a soft clay paste, fired at a low temperature of 1000°C. We can differentiate several types of earthenware: fine earthenware based on white clay, earthenware based on oxide, earthenware based on lead. Porcelain (also called white ceramic) is a ceramic product obtained following several firings, one of which can reach a high temperature of 1400°C. Porcelain is made of quartz, feldspar or kaolin. These components give it a less porous and finer consistency as well as a beautiful white color.

Conclusion :

You will therefore understand that Porcelain, Pottery, Earthenware and Stoneware are part of the ceramic family. The difference between these techniques lies in the raw material as well as the cooking method used.

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