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Don't Let the World of Ceramics Baffle You!

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Don't Let the World of Ceramics Baffle You!
If the world of ceramics, stoneware, and china baffle you, you’re not alone. Many of the fabrication terms in use today no longer mean what they once did, and the fact that some are used interchangeably only complicates the issue further. Do you know the difference between china or porcelain?

Porcelain is made from a fine white clay and it's feather-light. It's extremely strong which means it can be made thinner which makes it seem really delicate but it's resistant to chips, cracks and extreme temperatures. For mugs, it means it much lighter to hold and so lots of people would prefer to drink from a porcelain mug than a china mug.

We refer to our mugs as china mugs or ceramic mugs. Ceramics have been in use for thousands of years because they’re made from water and minerals that are literally dug from the earth. While all clay is made from ceramics though not all ceramics are made from clay. There are three basic types of pottery which are stoneware; porcelain and earthenware. What we refer to as china is actually simply stoneware. This is a durable and unrefined clay that withstands extreme temperatures. Like earthenware, it has an organic aesthetic that’s perfect for gift mugs. It’s fired to achieve a degree of strength that’s equal to that of porcelain, but it resists chips better and is opaque. It’s well loved for its budget-friendly price and ability to go from oven to freezer without cracking. Glazes are often used to achieve a glossy surface or to add a hint of colour. All our mugs have a glossy finish.

Earthenware is nonvitreous clay that’s been fired and glazed to seal its porous surface and achieve imperviousness to fluids. It’s a popular material for personalised mugs for its charming texture. It’s a heavy material with a chalky, often gritty surface, and in its natural form, it has a red hue. This is a part of its appeal. It looks artisanal, but it doesn’t withstand extreme temperatures. It’s best kept away from your microwave, dishwasher, and oven because it will ultimately develop cracks. Unfired earthenware novelty mugs should be hand washed. There are several types of earthenware. Terracotta is strong and unglazed, so it’s generally only used for sculpture and flower pots. Majolica earthenware is coloured and patterned. Faience earthenware is tin-glazed and usually has a whiter hue.

And then there is, of course, fine bone china... traditionally made from cow or ox bone ash, fine clay, and minerals. It’s even stronger than porcelain and has slightly more translucence. When held to the light, it displays its sheerness, which adds depth to table displays. Its ash content gives it a warmer, creamier hue. The percentage of bone ash in your piece determines its quality and colour. Look for over 30% ash content, which creates a softer colour and a more refined look. Collectors love this material for its rarity and chip resistance. This is the queen of all chinaware!

People have been using ceramics since 24 000 BC. So when you use a ceramic product, you become part of its history, with all the beauty that comes with it. Mugs are hugely popular and always will be. An item we use every day, multiple times, which reflect our personality which is why personalised mugs are even more popular and make such a great gift!

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