The 4 Types of Clay Used In Ceramics

When it comes to making pottery, choosing the best clay type is key to creating pieces that are both functional and for display. 

At DiamondCore® Tools, we're here to help you find the right pottery tools and the perfect clay for your next pottery project. Let's look at the four best clay options for your next ceramic creation.

1. Earthenware


Earthenware clay is more porous and textured than other clay types. 

This clay has been used to make some of the oldest known pottery from15,400 to 18,300 years ago. The first pit-fired earthenware dates to 29,000 to 25,000 B.C.!

Today, earthenware clay is used for traditional terracotta pots or to form bricks for homebuilding. 

Because earthenware is so porous, it requires a lower fire temperature than other clay types. This made it even more practical because people lacked the high-tech kilns we have today. 

Earthenware can be fired at 1,828 degrees Fahrenheit to 2,088 degrees Fahrenheit for bisque firing and 1,728 degrees Fahrenheit to 1,945 degrees Fahrenheit for glaze firing. 

2. Stoneware


If you’re looking for a clay type that is less porous and more sturdy than earthenware, stoneware clay is for you. This clay is perfect if you’re just starting with pottery making since you can use it for many practical purposes. 

This clay is best for creating functional pottery, including cooking, baking or liquid-holding pieces. It can withstand heat elements, making it microwave- and oven-safe. 

Stoneware is fired between 2,124 degrees Fahrenheit and 2,264 degrees Fahrenheit. 

3. Ball Clay

Ball Clay

Ball clay isn’t often used in pottery today, but when it is, it’s similar to earthenware pottery. The biggest difference between the two clay types is that ball clay will turn white once fired. 

Kaolinite, mica, quartz and other organic matter make up ball clay, also known as “plastic clay.” Ball clay can only be found in specific locations around the world, making it a rare clay type that isn’t often used in ceramics today. 

This clay type was first used for floor and wall tiles but can also be used for plates, vases, mugs and other similar pottery projects. 

Ball clay should be fired at 2,4336 degrees Fahrenheit. 

4. Porcelain


Porcelain is very popular yet expensive due to its durable yet delicate and elegant finish. 

This clay type dates to the Shang Dynasty in China, 1600 to 1046 B.C. 

Porcelain can be difficult to work with, requiring a lot of water due to its large number of clay particles. Too much water can cause the porcelain to collapse on the pottery wheel, making it frustrating for artists to handle.

Once you master this clay type, it is best used for creating serving ware and other functional cooking or drinking pottery pieces to increase the overall value and professionalism of the piece. 

Firing porcelain gives it a glass-like appearance, and it is often fired more than once to achieve different finishes. This clay type should be fired at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit to 2,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have any questions about pottery clay types or firing temperatures, we’re here to help! Leave a comment or get in touch with our team on Facebook and Instagram. We can’t wait to see what you’re creating!

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