Stoneware, a clay-based material, undergoes a high-temperature firing process to acquire exceptional durability and resistance against chipping, making it highly suitable for everyday usage. Its robust nature has led to the creation of various culinary essentials like dishes, mugs, platters, bowls, and plates. While its strength remains a key attribute, stoneware pieces can also be adorned with colored or clear glazes before undergoing a second firing, although some pieces are left unadorned. It is important to note that stoneware is often confused with earthenware, a similar type of pottery. However, earthenware is fired at lower temperatures, resulting in reduced durability and suitability for daily use.
The firing temperature for stoneware typically reaches approximately around 1040° Celsius to 1196° Celsius. Its sturdy composition allows for oven use, resembling the look and feel of traditional pottery. To differentiate between stoneware and earthenware, one can examine the bottom of the piece. Typically, earthenware displays decorative elements on the bottom, while stoneware remains unadorned. Additionally, when comparing the weight of the two, earthenware tends to feel lighter.
Utilizing stoneware in the kitchen offers numerous advantages over earthenware. While earthenware is porous and often struggles to retain water, stoneware is crafted to be waterproof and can even find utility in garden settings. As stoneware gained popularity in the late 1700s, earthenware gradually transitioned from a kitchen staple to primarily a decorative art form, despite its early prevalence in culinary settings during the early 1700s.
The creation of stoneware typically involves shaping the clay through either a pottery wheel or manual techniques. Once the desired form is achieved, the piece undergoes a complete drying process. Subsequently, a clear or colored glaze may be applied, although some individuals prefer the natural, unadorned appearance of stoneware. The final step involves firing the clay in a kiln.
Pottery stands as one of the oldest art forms known to humanity. In the latter half of the 18th century, it witnessed a surge in demand and commercialization, with fierce competition between countries like the United States and Europe in both import and production. Spain, America, Holland, and England emerged as prominent pottery producers, and households often possessed pieces sourced from various locations due to extensive global trading.