Puzzling through the World of Pottery and Ceramics
Ceramic, Pottery, China, Porcelain: What is the difference? We thought we'd look into his one since our personalised mugs are our most popular gift. And what prompted us most was a customer phoned us this morning and asked if she could return the mug she'd received because she wasn't happy with it. The reason she explained was that it was too heavy!
She preferred a mug which was much lighter to hold. We understood she would have preferred a porcelain mug since china and earthenware mugs are much heavier!
Personalisation has transformed the gift industry from a tired venture into a celebration. Even the simplest of products such as a mug becomes treasured when it’s made specifically for the recipient. Customised mugs turn a simple present into a unique request. But If the world of ceramics, stoneware, and china baffles you, you’re not alone. Many of the fabrication terms in use today no longer mean what they once did, and the fact that some are used interchangeably only complicates the issue further.
Technically, the word pottery refers to ceramic products that are made from fired clay. Ceramics have been in use for thousands of years because they’re made from water and minerals that are literally dug from the earth. While all clay is made from ceramics, not all ceramics are made from clay. There are three basic types of pottery: -1) Porcelain -2) Stoneware -3)
Earthenware is nonvitreous clay that’s been fired and glazed to seal its porous surface and achieve imperviousness to fluids. It’s a popular material for personalised mugs for its charming texture. It’s a heavy material with a chalky, often gritty surface, and in its natural form, it has a red hue. This is a part of its appeal. It looks artisanal, but it doesn’t withstand extreme temperatures. It’s best kept away from your microwave, dishwasher, and oven because it will ultimately develop cracks. Unfired earthenware novelty mugs should be hand washed. There are several types of earthenware. Terracotta is strong and unglazed, so it’s generally only used for sculpture and flower pots. Majolica earthenware is coloured and patterned. Faience earthenware is tin-glazed and usually has a whiter hue.
Stoneware is a durable, unrefined clay that withstands extreme temperatures. Like earthenware, it has an organic aesthetic that’s perfect for gift mugs. It’s fired to achieve a degree of strength that’s equal to that of porcelain, but it resists chips better and is opaque. It’s well loved for its budget-friendly price and ability to go from oven to freezer without cracking. Glazes are often used to achieve a glossy surface or to add a hint of colour.
Porcelain is made from fine white, vitreous clay. Its feather-light weight and refined translucence belie its strength. It might seem delicate, but it’s highly resistant to chips, cracks, and temperature extremes. It has non-stick qualities and is nonporous enough to resist stains. All of these outstanding qualities have contributed to its popularity and price. Porcelain is also known as china, which is made from kaolin clay and is named after its Chinese heritage. Chinese porcelain has a history dating back to 1600 BC when ceramics were adjusted to achieve a finer, fired surface.
Bone china is traditionally made from cow or ox bone ash, fine clay, and minerals. It’s stronger than porcelain and has slightly more translucence. When held to the light, it displays its sheerness, which adds depth to table displays. Its ash content gives it a warmer, creamier hue. The percentage of bone ash in your piece determines its quality and colour. Look for over 30% ash content, which creates a softer colour and a more refined look. Collectors love this material for its rarity and chip resistance. This is the queen of all chinaware.
People have been using ceramics since 24 000 BC. When you give a personalised ceramic product, you become part of its history, with all the beauty that comes with it.
Shop Our Mug Collection