Dinnerware ceramics : A focus on porcelain and stoneware

First of all, let’s see where the word ceramics comes from. Apparently, Ceramic in Greek is “keramos” which means clay is a generic term that includes porcelain, stoneware, clay, earthenware and even sandstone types of ceramics.

We have learned that there are two groups of dinnerware ceramics products which we will explain in depth. We will explore the world of dinnerware ceramics as there are also ceramics made for construction and other types of industries.

The first group type of dinnerware ceramics is the waterproof ceramics. We will find in this group stoneware that is glazed clay. And also porcelain that is white translucent paste and coated with transparent enamel, glazed. Top Porcelain will be focusing on selecting dinnerware made out of porcelain.

Now the second group type of ceramics is the porous ceramics. In this group we have earthenware that is baked clay also called terracotta, like the terracotta army in China. And we have faience which is clay and glazed over medium heat.

For this blog post we will explore the waterproof ceramics.

If you want to go to directly to the porous ceramics you can find the blog post here.

What kind of dinnerware waterproof ceramics do we have?

Stoneware

Stoneware is a porous ceramic obtained by glazing.

This type of clay is often plastic resistant to temperatures ranging from 1200°C and in some cases to more than 1300°C.   At these temperatures, the grains of clay transform to form a solid, durable and waterproof layer. Stoneware dinnerware makes a particular sound when you bump it!

In practice, the potter bakes a first prototype object at 900°C which facilitates manipulation of decoration and glazing.  But many potters prefer mono cooking directly to high temperatures.  This high temperature causes loss of colors.   Only blues, browns and some green colors are fire resistant.

Baking temperature: 1250°C-1280°C.

Stoneware dinnerware are thicker and heavier with a rather rustic appearance.

It is highly resistant to both shock and extreme temperatures and allows the use of microwave and dishwasher.

Japanese dinnerware provides a great tradition of magnificent stoneware made for our dinnerware ceramics needs.

Porcelain

There are different kinds of porcelain such as hard porcelain also known as Chinese porcelain, bone china and porcelain with bone ash

Firing temperature: 1400°C

First operation: heat up to 900°C followed by a second vitrification firing.

Given the very high temperatures used (up to 1400°C), most of the colors disappear and become bright white porcelain.

Cooking in a gas stove under an atmosphere of “reduction” contributes to obtain more white porcelain.

In some cases, an additional operation to avoid glazing, a potter will bake the ceramic directly on high temperature.   This will turn out to be mat porcelain, but is glazed anyway, called “bisque porcelain”.

Porcelain and bisque porcelain are often decorated with low heat and baked at temperatures around 800°C.

Soft porcelain

Also called artificial porcelain, it contains clay and frit (crushed glass, which is the enamel) and results from European attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain imported into Europe from the fifteenth century by the Italians.

Soft porcelains are not only made ​​from kaolin, but is based on a composition of clay and fluxes.

Soft porcelain dinnerware being thick, heavy and fragile (a knife can scratch it) is no longer manufactured, and is replaced by hard porcelain.

Hard porcelain

Also known as china or genuine porcelain, it contains white clay (kaolin), feldspar and quartz.

It appeared in China around the second century and Europe only managed to reproduce this in 1709 in Germany.

The porcelain firing requires very high temperatures up to 1400°C.  Clay, mainly kaolin, is vitrified and forms a very resistant ceramic.

This allows the production of fine translucent pieces.

Hard porcelain dinnerware is ideal for all uses of table and kitchen: thin, light, translucent and completely waterproof.

Thanks to the clay used and baked at very high temperatures, they produce bright white dishes.

Only drawback, due to the multiple operations required, they are also the most expensive dishes.  But of course the price also depends on the quantity produced and the care taken in finishing (hand painting, gilding, etc.).

Although they seem delicate, they are quite resilient to shocks. They can usually be washed in the dishwasher and are resistant to microwave ovens provided the porcelain do not contain metal decoration (platinum, silver, gold, etc.).

Bone china (porcelain bone ash)

Also called English porcelain, it contains kaolin, feldspar and bone meal.  Bone meal (actually burned to ash bone meal) increases the strength of the porcelain, its whiteness and its transparency.  Bone China has been invented in the years between 1789 and 1793 in England. Baking temperature: 1260°C