Classic Ceramic Art: Earthenware, Porcelain & Chinaware Pottery

Ceramic art as decorative accessories contributes to a room’s character, expresses spatial dignity and reflects the aesthetic interests of the owner.

Ceramic Art – Shotsie

Amongst the most popular and useful decorative items for interior spaces are ornamental clay and pottery products, fired with a kiln and referred to as ceramics.

The discovery of pottery by archaeologists indicated that some form of ceramic art had been around since the prehistoric era and that its art spanned the whole prehistoric world at the time. And as the different cultures arose from those times, they all simultaneously produced similar forms and painted designs of ceramic pottery.

With this evolving of pottery art, each culture invariably developed their own individual expressions, the results being a vast and interesting array of various forms of ceramic ware.

The 3 Known Classifications Of Ceramic Pottery

The word ceramic is derived from the Greek word ‘keramos’ or potter’s clay. Ceramics is divided into three classifications depending on the materials used to produce it and based on its physical properties. They are:

  • Earthenware
  • Chinaware
  • Porcelain


Earthenware is made from almost any clay material found in riverbeds, it can be shaped moulded or turned on the potter’s wheel quite easily. Earthenware is however fired at low temperatures coming out porous and opaque. Depending on the riverbed deposits and geographical locations, earthenware colours range from pale tans to deep reds or browns. They can be glazed or unglazed and if fired at high temperatures will become harder and denser.

It is good to know that the following words are synonymous with, and are commonly used interchangeably with earthenware:

  • Pottery
  • Faience
  • Majolica
  • Delftware

There are many methods applied to decorate earthenware ceramic art. These methods are all beautiful in their own way and include a ‘scratching ‘ technique on the surface of the unfired pottery called ‘sgraffito’ and painting after firing or after glazing.


Chinaware ceramic art is opaque and has greater resilience than earthenware. Its materials almost always include some bone ash and this affords it some quality that enhances its practicability, making it a popular ceramic used commonly for everyday tableware and interior décor items. Chinaware, popularly called China is broader in scope than earthenware or porcelain.

The following words are synonymous with Chinaware ceramics:

  • China
  • Ironstone
  • Creamware
  • Queen’s ware
  • Staffordshire


Unlike simple earthenware ceramics, porcelain ceramic is produced with kaolin (decayed granite) and petuntse, an equally decayed feldspathic rock. The clear white colour of porcelain is from its firing at very high temperatures in order to vitrify the components which in turn comes out an extremely hard, white, with a translucency associated with porcelain.

The manufacture of true porcelain was initially mastered in Germany in the very early 1700s. it is however believed that pure porcelain ceramic art originated in China where it was found in abundant quantities, so much so that it was exported to Mesopotamia during the 9th century.

Ceramic Art Today

In modern-day ceramic engineering usage, ceramics is the art and science of making objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials by the action of an application of heat. From this process, millions of decorative ceramic art items are produced worldwide.

These pieces are also known as pottery art, and though produced in most geographical locations of the world, yet they all still possess certain unique characteristics and similarities, such as determining the shape and configuration of the ceramic art piece, deciding on how it is to be decorated (etched, carved, engraved, stained with wild berries, or painted) and whether it’s final surface finish is to be glazed or unglazed.

Today, ceramic art in itself is still one of the most sought-after interior décor items by many homeowners, interior designers and interior decorators.