Earthenware vs. Stoneware vs. Porcelain

Material Matters

At Haand, we make everything with our proprietary porcelain slip, which is a pourable mixture of clay and water. Learn more about our clay and process here. But to understand why porcelain is uniquely suited to our craft and commitment to quality, it’s worth distinguishing between three main types of ceramics you have probably seen on the shelf in a store:
Earthenware, Stoneware, and Porcelain
The most basic difference between three these types of pottery is durability and hardness. We are of course biased, but both earthenware and stoneware have a place in our hearts.

The Other Guys

Earthenware is a crumbly, iron-rich clay that is fired at relatively low temperatures, from about 1300 degrees F to 2120 degrees F. The porous nature of earthenware makes pieces tend to break easily, the trade off is the beautiful mineral tones you see in earthenware pieces- think flower pots or an ancient Roman wine jar. I love earthenware- it has so much history and personality. Because it is fired at a lower temperature, it often features vibrant colors and a bright red clay body that is as varied as the land it is dug from.

Stoneware is harder and denser than earthenware and fired at higher temperatures, around 2100 degrees to 2372 degrees F. Stoneware clays often retain particles and oxides that can give pieces a sandy, textural appeal. Stoneware is somewhere in between earthenware and porcelain as far as durability, and tends to chip before it breaks. Stoneware is what I think of when people talk about "pottery". Stoneware has a ton of character- the unique mixture of minerals in the clay will melt and add different colors and specks of dark spots throughout the clay body. In North Carolina, there is a long tradition of potters digging their own clays and this gives a literal and figurative terroir to their work. Check out our friends at STARWorks in Star, NC. They process and package local clays, and have refurbished an old factory in to a thriving glass blowing studio, brewery, and pottery studio- all open to the public.

Why does Haand use Porcelain?

Porcelain is the hardest ceramic and fired at the highest temperatures—usually above 2300 degrees F. The high percentage of kaolin, a white clay mineral, in porcelain results in a smooth, highly refined surface. When fired to our kiln's high temperatures, Haand porcelain fuses together into a glassy, non-porous surface that creates our complete unique shapes and lets it stand up to the strains of fast paced, commercial kitchen- or a 3 bottle of wine Thanksgiving dinner at home. We love porcelain, and as we have mentioned, it is a difficult material to work with. However, it is the ONLY material we know that we can strike the balance between organic movement and durability.