Difference Between Pottery and Ceramics

We come across many potteries works and ceramics materials in our day-to-day life. Some items include plates, cups, storage jars, stoneware, earthenware, and porcelain dishes.


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The main point of confusion between the two is how they are prepared. Is clay only used to prepare them, or are they 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 initially 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?

Key Takeaways

  1. Pottery refers to objects made from clay fired at a low temperature and often used for practical purposes, such as tableware.
  2. Ceramics refer to objects made from a mixture of clay and other materials fired at a high temperature and often used for decorative or artistic purposes.
  3. Pottery is typically more porous than ceramics, affecting its durability and ability to hold liquids.

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 first kind of ceramics generally made through traditional methods, while ceramics are generally prepared in factories.

Pottery vs Ceramics

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Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison PotteryCeramics 
DefinitionPottery is the process of forming clay materials which are first shaped and then heated at high temperatures and 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.
UsesPottery had a variety of uses in earlier times, like earthen pots used to store water, utensils used for cooking and serving food, various gods and goddesses, statues made from clay, etc.Apart from the production of utensils, ceramics are used in making knives, armour, and even car engines. Ceramics have more uses than pottery.
Created from Pottery is designed using clays.Ceramics are created from clay, glazes, zirconium oxide, silica carbide, or silica.
Surface comparison The surfaces of pottery works are rougher and coarser than 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, armour, pottery products, etc.

What is Pottery?

Pottery is not something new. Since the beginning of civilization, pottery has existed, and we still use pottery products.

Pottery is the art of creating containers and utensils from clay by craftsmen.

These clay materials are moulded and baked between 500°C and 1500°C.

The various types of pottery are:

  1. Earthenware

Earthenwares are pottery 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 pottery types 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 many ways to make and design pottery works, the oldest being hand-building.

Other ways potteries are made are using a potter’s wheel, jiggering and jollying, slip casting, etc.


What are Ceramics?

Ceramics include a variable range of products and 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 coloured 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 working with ceramic materials industrially or individually is known as a ceramist.

Some people are ceramic engineers who deal with the art of ceramics scientifically and have in-depth knowledge of 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 than pottery products with a coarser surface because pottery products are prepared through hand building or by using a potter’s wheel.
Difference Between Pottery and Ceramics
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=uKcQCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=pottery&ots=fyUuEn-VzJ&sig=qNFpIs6F2exB826bqt1gejE2Mmc
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