Pottery Verses Ceramics – What Is the Difference?

A sculpture of a snowman and his wife and dog.

During the 1970s and ’80s was the ceramic craze. Mostly ladies, myself included, went to a house or ceramic store and made ceramics, actually painted ceramic pieces.

Making Ceramic Pieces

Liquid clay, called slip, is poured into a two-part plaster mould. The clay slip dries from the outside in. When 1/4″of the outside is dried then it can hold its shape. The remaining slip is poured out of the mould, and the mould is removed.

Ceramic moulds range from milk jugs to planters to Christmas trees and everything in between.

We, the students, chose a piece, cleaned off the seam the mould left and decorate it, similar to how I decorate pottery, with under glazes and glazes. Ceramic wear is fired in a low fire kiln to about the bisque-fire temperature.

How I Make Pottery

Coffee Cup, Hot Drink Mug, Ceramic Cup
I carved cattails around this mug and the green glaze with brown and blue in it enhanced the cattail carving.

From a bag of clay I either hand build or turn on the wheel to create pottery items. It is bisque fired, glazed or decorated and fired in a high fired kiln.

Is There A Difference?

To bate my curiosity about the difference between ceramic and pottery I googled it.

I started with a bag of clay.

One article said they are the same. Ceramic derives its name from Greek, which translates “as of pottery” or “for pottery”.

Another article mentioned that ceramics is turning a lump of clay into something beautiful and decorative and pottery is a type of ceramic, specifically a vessel that holds something such as cups and bowls.  Flower vases hold flowers and are beautiful, what category do they fall into?

I continued my search and came upon another definition. The difference between ceramics and pottery is the type of clay they are made from. The article also tossed in porcelain to confuse me even more.  I agree with this definition. The ceramics in moulds were made from slip which doesn’t have very much grog in it. Functional Pottery is often made from stoneware clay.

The more I searched the internet, the more confusing the issue became.

The bottom line is, does it really matter? They are both made from clay, decorated with a variety of glazes and fired in a kiln to turn them from soft clay to a ceramic, or pottery item for us to use and enjoy.

I have changed from decorating ceramic pieces to making pottery items from scatch. Check what I’ve made on the orange and blue button above.

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