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Stoneware is a category of clay and a type of pottery distinguished primarily by its firing and maturation temperature (from about 2290˚F to 2426˚F). In essence, it is man-made stone. One widely recognized definition states "Stoneware, which, though dense, impermeable and hard enough to resist scratching by a steel point, differs from porcelain because it is more opaque, and normally only partially vitrified. It may be vitreous or semi-vitreous. It is usually colored grey or brownish because of impurities in the clay used for its manufacture, and is normally glazed."
In contrast, earthenware, another pottery type, is fired at lower temperatures and is not impervious to liquids. Porcelain was first produced in China and is somewhat whiter than stoneware and always vitreous.
Stoneware is generally much more plastic than porcelain and is better suited for throwing and hand-building techniques. Potters are attracted to stoneware by the functionality of the ware and the range of colors that can be achieved in both gas and electric kilns.
© 2006 Brittney Baker