Made from clay, stoneware is a more durable type of dense pottery. They are fired at very high temperatures of about at least 1,200°c. A stoneware ceramic that is fired well is non-porous (resistant to liquids), which makes it dishwasher safe and microwave safe.
Stoneware ceramics, as suggested in its name, have stone-like qualities and are highly durable for daily homeware items like mugs, plates and bowls.
Besides the obvious aesthetic appeal, they are the popular choice for coffee and tea cups because they allow better, even distribution and retainment of heat.
Under good care, you can expect these durable and elegant-looking stoneware ceramics to last you a lifetime.
HOW ARE STONEWARE CERAMICS MADE?
There are 2 methods that are used to create stoneware ceramics: slip-casting and handcrafting.
Stoneware Ceramics by Slip-Casting
For stoneware by molding, clay is first placed into a mold. Inside, the clay will harden and form a hollow cast until it can keep its shape. They will then be fired as the finishing process.
Molds can be bought or potters can customise their own. Molds can be as simple as a drinking vessel or more intricate shapes, like unique table centerpieces.
Stoneware ceramics produced by this method are produced fast and most importantly, uniformed. Mass produced pottery companies run more effectively with molds.
The two biggest downsides of this method are arguably its fragility and its tendency for printed designs to fade away over heavy, constant usage.
Stoneware Ceramics by Wheel Throwing
A popular choice amongst potters is by wheel throwing. This method has been going around for thousands of years. Beloved for truly relaying the artists’ creativity to each product they make.
Potters use either electric or manual wheels and start by (literally) throwing a lump of clay in the middle of the wheel. It requires skills, creativity and a lot more time to produce stoneware ceramics by wheel throwing.
From shaping the clay to their desired shapes, to cutting it from the wheel. Everything is done with the bare hands of the potter and his tools.
Despite the fact that this method takes more time and demands more attentiveness from the potters, the result is far greater.
Stoneware ceramics by wheel throwing are said to be more durable.
And although the functional designs are relatively the same across, it is hard to find two mugs that are exactly identical - making the ceramics made by this method charmingly unique.
WHAT ARE CERAMIC GLAZES?
Another common word you will often see in the world of ceramics is glaze. What are they exactly?
Glazes are special add-ons that further illustrate the ceramics’ colours and textures. Some are rainbow-like. While others, matte, rustic or glossy. They can be dipped on, sprayed on or poured onto the stoneware ceramics.
Often, ceramic artists make their own recipes for glazes.
While glazes can come from any combination of minerals and chemicals, the ones used on stoneware are almost solely minerals only.
Especially for stoneware ceramics that are specifically mentioned to be safe for food and drinks, they are without harmful minerals like lead and cadmium.
But perhaps the real beauty of glaze is the enhanced strength it equips the stoneware ceramics with. During the last firing process, the glazes will melt and integrate with the ceramics, coating a sort of thin glass layer. This prevents liquid from entering the ceramics’ body.
Maintaining consistency of glazes is not easy. They are highly sensitive to kiln temperature changes and recipe ratios. This can result in unexpected changes to textures and colours. Once again, highlighting its uniqueness.
ARE STONEWARE CERAMICS STILL POPULAR?
Very much. Stonewares made by molding are the common choice for mass produced dinnerwares, even chafing dishes, crocks, baking stones or other cooking items.
Handmade stoneware ceramics are charming pieces to have at home. Some can really be eye-catching center pieces.
Stoneware ceramics that are handcrafted remain to be popular gifting choices for any occasion, with their strong genuine appeal.