How can you tell the difference between ceramic and porcelain?
Some of you are waving your hand, nearly jumping out of your seat to answer,
“I know, I know!
Just tap it and you can
tell from the sound.”
While some people believe they can hear the difference if they tap the item lightly with their finger, ears cannot distinguish between
Ceramics, Pottery, Porcelain, and Fine China. These are all terms for sedimentary rock in a form called clay.
It’s all just clay.
Clay may be used with other materials, treated with specific methods, and fired at different temperatures, making them different from the other.
If we leave our ears out of it we can learn to tell the difference between ceramics, pottery, porcelain, and fine china by using two of our other senses - Sight and Touch.
is made out of materials that change form permanently when heated
consists of clay plus one or more other materials such as glaze
is porous, can absorb water
is made only with clay
is used to create a vessel, a bowl, a dish, a cup - a pot
is the oldest form of ceramics
is often created on a potter’s wheel
Take a moment now to remember Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in the movie Ghost.
porcelain is made from kaolin, a type of white clay
it is fired at a higher temperature than ceramics, making it more durable
it has a fine and smooth surface
the material is thinner than ceramics, resulting in a translucent product when held to the light
fired porcelain has a whiter and more delicate appearance than ceramics
the word 'porcelain' comes from the Latin word 'porcella,' meaning seashell
porcelain is denser and less porous than ceramic
it is superior in resisting staining
it is less likely to crack with temperature fluctuations
it is much lighter in weight than a ceramic counterpart
the term 'china' may be used interchangeably with porcelain
it is a smooth, white, and lustrous product
china is very delicate in appearance only
it had strength and resistance to chipping due to its high firing temperature.
is a type of clay used to make porcelain
bone china is created the same way as porcelain china but the clay includes an extra ingredient, bone ash
bone ash gives the body of the plate a unique milky white color
bone ash adds translucency to the body of the product and makes it stronger
bone ash makes it less brittle, more resilient and less likely to break
bone china is usually thinner and the glaze is smoother than porcelain china
is the oldest type of pottery
is the softest type of pottery, easily scratched
is porous, water absorbant
varies in color from buff to dark red, gray, black, and cream, depending on the amount of iron in the clay
is dense, opaque, and stone-like after firing
is used in commercial manufacturing
is used in the creation of fine art pottery
is popular for modern-day tableware
Now you know the basics.
It's time to use your senses
of sight and touch.
Look at It!
Hold each figurine up to the light
Hold each object up to the light and wave a finger back and forth behind it. Porcelain is translucent, It will allow the shadow of your finger to pass through it, Ceramic is completely opaque.
Note the appearance. Porcelain may have a thinner, whiter, and more delicate appearance than ceramic.
If both pieces are white, notice which has more gloss. The fusion of petuntse and kaolin in porcelain gives it a glossy, glass-like appearance.
Unless you are a bull in a china shop, like I am, ignore your mother’s command that you do not touch anything (given with ‘the look').
Even at 61 years old I enter a china department with my hands clasped behind my back.
Touch it all. Feel the smoothness, the coolness, the form.
Run a finger over the surface of each item.
The porcelain will feel fine and smooth, like the surface of an eggshell
Why does it matter?
It may or may not.
When I purchase a piece because I love the form, purpose, price, color, style, etc… its position on the periodic table doesn’t matter.
If I am purchasing a piece and am told in writing, or orally, that it is such and such, I want to know for sure what I am are purchasing is correctly represented.
When I purchasing a piece as a personal investment, or to re-sell, I authenticate. What is is? What are the materials? When was it made? Where? Was is cared for? Is it a desired object? Is it priced fairly?
I obtain answers to all these questions to ensure profitability and to protect my reputation as a knowledgable and honest seller.
But mostly, I want to share authentic, valuable, and precious treasures with you. I want you to experience the same joy with the item that I have.
THAT is why I have A Vintage Addiction
Upcoming episodes :
Is it Hand-painted or Transferware?
Ceramic Markings, Makers, and Dates
Ceramics Care Guide
The Glossary of Ceramic Terms