Difference Between Pottery and Ceramics (With Table)

We come across a lot of pottery works and ceramics materials in our day to day life. Items like plates, cups, storage jars, stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain dishes are some of them. The main point of confusion between the two is how they are prepared. Whether only clay is used to prepare them or they are made of other materials?

Since pottery and ceramics go almost through the same preparation processes and have a lot of similarities, it becomes all the more difficult to differentiate the two. Both pottery and ceramics are at first given a shape and then heated at high temperatures to make them strong and sustainable. One might even get confused with the traditional earthenware pots. Do they come under pottery or ceramics?

Pottery vs Ceramics

The difference between pottery and ceramics is that pottery materials are primarily made of clay while ceramics can be made of clay, glazes, zirconium oxide, or silica. Pottery products are mainly clay pots while there is a much larger range of ceramic products. Pottery is the very first kind of ceramics and is generally made through traditional methods while ceramics are generally prepared in factories.

Comparison Table Between Pottery and Ceramics

Parameters of Comparison PotteryCeramics 
DefinitionPottery is the process of forming clay materials which are first shaped and then heated at high temperatures which are usually handmade or made using the potter’s wheel.Ceramics are products made from non-metallic minerals like silica, clay, glazes, etc. which are also shaped and heated at high temperatures usually prepared in industries.
UsesThe pottery had a variety of uses in earlier times like earthen pots which were used to store water, utensils which were used to cook and serve food, various gods and goddesses statues were made from clay, etc.Apart from the production of utensils, ceramics are used in making knives, armor, and even car engines. Ceramics have more uses than pottery.
Created from Pottery is designed using clays.Ceramic is created from clay, glazes, zirconium oxide, silica carbide, or silica.
Surface comparison The surfaces of pottery works are rougher and coarser in comparison to ceramics since they are generally handmade.The surfaces of ceramic products are smoother than pottery products.
ExamplesClay pots, coffee mugs, storage containers, plates, dishes, etc.Knives, armor, pottery products, etc.

What is Pottery?

Pottery is not something new. Since the beginning of civilization, pottery has existed and pottery products are still being used by us. Pottery is the art of creating containers and utensils from clay by the craftsmen. These clay materials are first molded and then baked at temperatures usually between 500°C and 1500°C.

The various types of potteries are:

  1. Earthenware

Earthenwares are the type of pottery that is made by firing the clay at relatively lower temperatures (between 600°C and 1150°C). Earthenware is brittle and porous and is generally used to store water.

  1. Stoneware

Stoneware is baked at a higher temperature (around 1200°C). These are stronger, tougher, and more durable than earthenware and are used to make kitchen utensils.

  1. Porcelain

These are the hardest and strongest types of pottery that are fired at much higher temperatures ( between 1200°C and 1500°C). These are also known as fine china.

Potteries are the oldest type of ceramics. There are so many ways to make and design pottery works, the oldest being hand building. Other ways in which potteries are made are using potters wheel, jiggering and jolleying, slip casting, etc.

What is Ceramics?

Ceramics include a variable range of products and includes pottery also. They are formed by heating non-metallic materials at high temperatures and are strong, hard, and brittle. They may be crystalline, non-crystalline, semi-crystalline, amorphous, vitrified, or semi vitrified. Some of them are semiconductors as well.

They are used in domestic products, industrial, engineering, and building purposes. They are resistant to heat and chemical erosion. Earlier ceramics used to be more porous and rough. Later they were glazed to make them smoother and less porous with lustrous and colored surfaces.

Ceramics are good electrical and thermal insulators and are non-magnetic. The word ceramics is derived from the Greek word Keramos meaning burnt earth. A person that works with ceramic materials either industrially or individually is known as a ceramist. Some people are ceramic engineers who deal with the art of ceramics scientifically and have a piece of in-depth knowledge on the chemistry of ceramic materials.

Main Differences Between Pottery and Ceramics

  1. Ceramics is a broader term and is an art form as an aggregate while pottery means objects made of clay particularly pots.
  2. All pottery materials are ceramics while all ceramics are not pottery materials. Ceramics include pottery in it.
  3. Ceramics are usually produced in industries while pottery works are produced by individuals called potters.
  4. All pottery products are made of clay while ceramics are not necessarily made from clay. They may be made from other substances like silica or glazes.
  5. Ceramics have a smoother surface in comparison to pottery products which have a coarser surface because pottery products are prepared through hand building or by using a potter’s wheel.

Conclusion

Clay pots, storage jars, plates, clay statues and so many other pottery and ceramic works have been useful to mankind from time immemorial. Whenever we think about the two terms pottery and ceramics, we immediately think of clay products but it’s not the case. Though all pottery products are primarily made from clay, ceramics are made not just from clay but other products too.

To make them stiffer and more durable, pottery works and ceramics are heated at high temperatures. Using the potter’s wheel and clay, the potters make all those pots and clay substances and then bake them at high temperature while ceramics are usually made in industries. Thus pottery materials are handmade by the craftsmen and are coarser in comparison to ceramics. 

References

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=uKcQCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=pottery&ots=fyUuEn-VzJ&sig=qNFpIs6F2exB826bqt1gejE2Mmc