Originally from the Greek keramos meaning pottery.
Of or relating to the manufacture of, or any product such as earthenware, porcelain, or brick, made essentially from a nonmetallic mineral such as clay, by firing at a high temperature.
Clay is the basic material of pottery and has two distinct characteristics – it can be moulded and it hardens on firing to form a brittle but otherwise virtually indestructible material that is not harmed by any of the corrosive agents that attack metals or organic materials.
Pottery is made of clay and is permanently hardened by firing in a kiln. The nature and type of pottery is determined by the composition of the clay and the way it is prepared, the temperature at which it is fired, and the glaze used. There are three basic types of pottery; Earthenware, Stoneware and Porcelain.
Earthenware was the first kind of pottery made, dating back about 9,000 years. In the 20th century, it is still widely used. It is pottery that has not been fired to the point of vitrification and is thus slightly porous and coarser than stoneware and porcelain. It is made waterproof by the application of a tin or clear glaze. Nearly all ancient, medieval, Middle Eastern, and European painted ceramics are earthenware, as is a great deal of contemporary household dinnerware.
Stoneware is pottery which has been fired at a higher temperature than earthenware, such as to partially vitrify the materials and make them impervious to liquids even when unglazed. Stoneware is extremely strong and as it is non-porous and does not require a glaze.
Porcelain was first made in a primitive form in China, hence its common name china, and is a vitrified pottery with a white, fine-grained body that is usually translucent, as distinguished from earthenware which is porous, opaque, and coarser. The word porcelain is derived from porcellana, used by Marco Polo to describe the pottery he saw in China. There are three types of porcelain – Hard Paste, Soft Paste and Bone China.
Bone China is a hard-paste porcelain containing bone ash. The initial development of bone china is attributed to Josiah Spode the Second, who introduced it around 1800. Bone china is stronger than hard-paste porcelain and easier to manufacture. It is strong, does not chip easily, and has an ivory-white appearance.