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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Fortnum

Different Clay Types

There are 3 main categories of clay Earthenware, Stoneware and porcelain. They split clays into these three categories by what firing temperature the clay matures at and the qualities each clay body has.

Maturing the clay is a term which means at the pointy the clay turns hard into ceramic or at which temperature the ceramic glaze melts onto the clay body.



Firing range – bisque is around 1100 degrees and a glaze firing is lower at usually between 950 to 1,050 °C

Since it has not been fired to the point of vitrification, earthenware is porous and must be glazed in order to be watertight. It is generally more fragile than other types of pottery.


Firing range – bisque is 1000 degrees and glazing is higher between 1200-1300 degrees. Types of stoneware clay – stoneware, white stoneware, grogged stoneware, porcelain, parvian clay

Stoneware is fired to higher temperatures, maturing the clay and glaze at the same time. The glaze interacts with the clay forming an integral glaze/clay layer.

Stoneware is harder, stronger and more durable than earthenware


Porcelain fires within stoneware firing ranges – bisque is 1000 degrees and glazing is higher between 1200-1300 degrees. 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.


If you compare the 3 types of clay, Earthenware, Stoneware and Porcelain, the main difference between them is the temperature at which the clay is fired and the resulting strength, water resistance and durability of the finished products.


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