Pottery is a decorative or useful ware made of baked clay. Pottery includes valuable works of art, inexpensive dinnerware, vases, and other simple household items, all made by professional potters. Four steps are needed to make a pottery product: preparing the clay mixture, shaping the clay, decorating and glazing the item, and firing (baking). The firing temperature gives pottery its finished appearance and its strength.
There are three major pottery types: (1) earthenware, (2) stoneware, and (3) porcelain. Each type is distinguished by its clay mixture and the temperature at which it is baked or fired. Earthenware is a pottery clay mixture that is fired at a lower temperature. The low baking temperature allows the use of colorful glazes, but also yields a pottery that cracks and chips more easily than other types. Stoneware pottery is made of a heavier clay mixture that gives it greater strength. Stoneware is fired at a much higher temperature to give a harder finish. Porcelain is the purest and the most delicate type of pottery. It is formed from koalin, a fine white clay, that is mixed with controlled amounts of feldspar and flint and then fired at a low temperature.