Getting to know ceramics

Ceramics from Selborne Pottery

A simple guide to help you tell your porcelain from your paper clay.

We love ceramics here at SEED and are lucky enough to have a huge range in store to admire everyday. From vases to jewellery there is so much to look at, however, occasionally we can feel overwhelmed with ceramic technical terminology. In an effort to get to know our porcelain from our paper-clay, we’ve put together a little list of basic definitions for some of the more commonly used terms-

Stoneware Salt pot Clay-

Although, perhaps obvious, we couldn’t write a piece about ceramic terminology and miss this one out! A natural, earthy substance that is mouldable when wet and is commonly used for bricks, tiles and pottery.

Slip-

Usually used in decoration processes, slip is a the liquified suspension of clay particles in water and is the consistency of heavy cream.

Glazes-

A mixture of powdered minerals that is made into a slip and applied to the ceramic by spraying, painting or dipping. Glazing ensures that the pieces are suitable for uses such as holding water and can give the finalPorcelain Bangle look a glossy or matte appearance.

Earthenware-

Earthenware refers to ceramics that have been made from a porous clay and fired at a low heat.

Stoneware-

A strong form of clay, stoneware is naturally non-porous and can hold liquids without being glazed. Ceramics made from stoneware are often very robust and can usually even resist scratches up to a steel point.

Paper Clay Jug Porcelain-

Generally considered the highest quality of material for ceramics and is formed from the clay mineral known as Kaolinite. Porcelain is fine yet strong and often has a delicate, translucent quality to it. Can also be referred to as ‘China’.

Bone China-

Very similar to porcelain but with the addition of bone ash as an ingredient. Bone China has been used and made in England since the 1800’s and is often associated with very fine quality ceramics.

Paper Clay-

Paper clay refers to a clay that has had an additional, processed, fibre added- usually paper. A good material for beginning ceramists as additional pieces can be added to the piece even after it has dried.

Terracotta-Ceramic Bottle

A form of earthenware, terracotta has a distinctive red colour and is traditionally used for bricks, tiles and pipe work although also occasionally in more decorative ceramic items.

Of course, we have only scratched the decorative surface of the ceramics world. There are hundreds of other techniques and terms to learn about and the skill involved in each piece can’t be defined in a single sentence! If you ever have any questions about the ceramics available please send us an email/give us a call and we will try our best to answer any queries. Alternatively, if you have any knowledge that you would like to pass on we would be equally happy to learn!