The ABCs of Ceramics
Ceramics can be delicate and decorative or unrefined and
utilitarian. Bone china, porcelain, stoneware and earthenware -
this month we'll review them all. How Ceramics are Made.
Different kinds of stone are ground into a fine powder, mixed
with water resulting in a paste. It is fired in a kiln (an oven)
at very high temperatures until the particles of stone melt and
fuse together to create a strong substance.
It is shiny and smooth non-porous pottery made with bone ash,
china stone and fine kaolin (china clay). Bone china is light
weight and thin and fired at a high temperature. Patterns are
usually formal. Despite bone china's delicate appearance, it does
not chip easily. It is the finest and most expensive dishware
It is a non-porous pottery made from fine kaolin that is fired
above 1250 degrees Celsius. Porcelain is translucent, thin and
light weight. Originating in China, this delicate looking
dishware is stronger than stoneware. Porcelain is less expensive
than bone china and is available in casual and formal
A dense kaolin is fired between 1200 -1450 degrees Celsius to
create this porous ceramic. Neither translucent nor heavy,
stoneware chips more easily than porcelain or bone china. It has
a casual appearance and is generally glazed in muted earth tones.
It can have fine detail or be rough and grainy. Stoneware is more
affordable than porcelain or bone china.
It is a coarse porous pottery and fired at a low temperature
between 800-1000 degrees Celsius. Earthenware chips quite easily
and has a casual appearance. It is often glazed in bright colors
and formed by hand.
You should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for
care. Keep in mind that direct heat sources can cause rapid
changes in temperature causing cracking. Never put an antique or
any fine ceramic in the dishwasher. Fine gilding wears off
easily, so keep this in mind when handling antique pieces. Damage
or chips greatly reduce the value of any ceramic.
Martin Swinton owns Take-A-Boo Emporium located in Toronto,
Canada. He has appeared on a variety of television programs; does
furniture restoration; caning and rushing repairs; appraisals and
has taught courses on antiques at the Learning Annex. Martin can
be reached at http://www.takeaboo.com
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