CERAMIC is a general term that describes any article made of natural clay, mixed in various formulas with water and sometimes organic materials, shaped, decorated, usually glazed, and hardened by heat.
The composition of the clays used, type of additives, firing temperature and duration determine the quality and the hardness of the end product. Because these variables can be widely adjusted, there are many different types of ceramic.
Therefore ceramic is a broad category that includes pottery, earthenware, terracotta, stoneware, porcelain, fine china, bone china, paper clay, etc. as subcategories.
PORCELAIN is a white clay body used in making functional and non-functional pieces. Basically, the chemical composition of porcelain is a combination of clay, kaolin (a primary clay known for its translucency), feldspar, silica and quartz, but other materials may be added.
It is traditionally fired at high fire temperatures above 1260°C (2300°F). As with stoneware, the body vitrifies during firing, so the surface will be nonabsorbent. The surface is generally very smooth, even when unglazed, and the fineness of the clay used allows for intricate fine details.
The most significant identifying factor for porcelain is its translucence. Porcelain after firing becomes very white and translucent, allowing light to show through it. All other ceramics are opaque and do not transmit light.
Another identifying factor is the sound. If you strike a porcelain object lightly, it will ring with a clear bell-like sound.
Porcelain is a highly durable and hard material.
Chinese Porcelain is beautiful in a white kitchen, living room, or dining room. You can purchase inexpensive replicas or become a collector of authentic antiques. You can learn about Antique Chinese and Japanese Porcelain by visiting the website www.Gotheborg.com by Jan Erik Nilsson.
See authentic antique tea canisters and a Tung Chi Vase pictured below.
Natalie A. Gauci
Licensed Interior Designer working in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.