The physical composition of a ceramic as opposed to other components such as the
glaze and decoration. For example, ‘an earthenware body’. Used as a generic term
for the raw material from which a ceramic has been made. Terra-cotta, earthenware,
stoneware, soft- and hard-paste porcelain and bone china are all ‘bodies’ but with
different chemical compositions and/or physical processing. ‘Paste’ is a related
term, referring more specifically to the clay mixture used to form the ceramic item.
For any ceramic body, there could be any number of suitable ‘pastes’ each differing
slightly in composition and properties. See Paste.
The ceramic body after one firing, but before decoration or glazing.
A once-fired, but unvitrified and unglazed porcellaneous body used mainly for busts
and figurines. Bisque figurines usually have a white to ivory body with a fine, smooth
A soft-paste porcellaneous body that includes calcined animal bone (up to 50%) in
addition to china clay and china stone, the calcined bone adding whiteness, translucency
and strength. Although the inclusion of bone ash in pastes pre-dates 1794, its adoption
by Josiah Spode from about 1794 marked the introduction of ‘bone china’ and by about
1820 it had become the standard porcellaneous body in the United Kingdom. Bone china
is an attractive, warm, slightly creamy body ideally suited to tablewares.
A generic term used to describe porcellaneous (white, translucent) bodies as opposed
to earthenware or ‘pottery’. The term originally described the hard-paste porcelain
imported from China, but gradually came to be used for all similar bodies.
Dry body (stoneware)
A generic term for fine-textured, vitrified stoneware that needs no glaze to retain
liquids – thus the name ‘dry-body’.
A ceramic body fired at a comparatively low temperature to produce a generally heavy,
opaque, porous body. Earthenware is a general descriptive name for any opaque, glazed
ceramic body made from ‘clay’. It is distinguished from porcelain by being opaque
(usually) rather than translucent, and from stoneware by being porous rather than
having a vitrified body.
A refined paste developed by Josiah Spode at the end of the 18th century for bone
An improved earthenware body containing feldspar. Feldspathic earthenware is a moderately
hard, fine grained earthenware that may be slightly translucent if thinly potted.
Feldspathic earthenware was made by many manufacturers and marketed under names
including semi-porcelain, opaque porcelain, granite ware, stone china and iron-stone
A generic term for high quality stoneware (vitrified earthenware). Examples include
Wedgwood’s basalts, jasper, caneware etc.
A porcellaneous (white, translucent) body manufactured from a mixture including china
clay (kaolin) and china stone (petuntse) and covered in a glaze that is fused to
the body in a high-temperature firing.
A type of earthenware made from a paste containing powdered slag derived from the
blast furnaces used to make iron. Vast quantities of durable ironstone china were
exported from the Potteries to North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The prepared mass of ingredients prior to its formation into a ceramic object. A
paste is the result of mixing various ceramic materials according to a formula for,
say, an earthenware body.
A hard translucent, white ceramic body manufactured originally from a mixture including
china clay (kaolinite) and petuntse or china stone that, when fired, become vitreous
and translucent. Originally discovered in China. A modern porcelain body would be
manufactured from a mix of kaolinite, ball clay (added to increase plasticity), feldspar
(the flux to help melt and fuse the paste) and silica to add body. See the definitions
for ‘hard-paste’ and ‘soft-paste’ porcelains.
A body having the characteristics of porcelain i.e. whiteness, hardness and translucency.
A non-specific term used for any ceramic body, but commonly used as a generic term
for earthenware and stoneware which lack the high degree of translucence and whiteness
associated with porcelain.
A low-temperature-fired earthenware where the body is composed of a prevously fired
clay that has been broken up and pulverised. Of Japanerse origin.The word can refer
to the finished ware or to the process of manufacture.
A variation of English soft paste porcelain.
A porcellaneous (white, translucent) body produced from a range of materials (silica,
gypsum etc) usually fused and ground and then mixed with china clay. The soft-paste
porcelains are generally fired at a lower temperature than hard-paste porcelain and
the glaze does not fuse with the underlying body. Soft-paste porcelains are ‘warmer’
to touch compared to the ‘cold’ feel of hard-paste wares, and the surface glaze gives
an impression of greater depth and gloss. Bone china is a soft-paste porcelain.
An earthenware body containing powdered felspathic rock. An alternative term for
feldspathic earthenware. Stone china was opaque, but the fine body enabled its manufacturers
to use the term ‘china’.
A vitrified (non-porous) earthenware body manufactured from clay to which has been
added materials such as sand or calcined flint which melt and re-crystallise at high
temperatures, rendering the body non-porous and thus not requiring a covering glaze.
Stoneware is usually heavy, but need not be so, and is widely used in the manufacture
of studio pottery.
An unglazed porous orange or red earthenware much used for garden and architectural
pottery. The name is from the Italian ‘fired earth’.
A ceramic body rendered non-porous by vitrification at high temperature of ingredients
contained within the paste. Stoneware is by definition vitreous so the term is somewhat