stoneware, hard pottery made from siliceous paste, fired at high temperature to vitrify (make glassy) the body. Stoneware is heavier and more opaque than porcelain and differs from terra-cotta in being nonporous and nonabsorbent. The usual color of fired stoneware tends toward gray, though there may be a wide range of color, depending on the clay. It has been produced in China since ancient times and is the forerunner of Chinese porcelain. It is difficult to distinguish between early porcelaneous stoneware and true porcelain. During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) a porcelainlike stoneware was developed with remarkable red and green glazes. In the 16th cent. it was extensively manufactured in Yixing in Jiangsu prov., which is notable for its unusual teapots of red, buff, or gray and glazed or enameled stoneware. In Europe stoneware was manufactured in the 12th cent. in Germany, especially in the north and on the lower Rhine. Early salt-glazed wares have been found at Aachen and Cologne; these grayish, blue, and brown wares were exported in quantity to the Lowlands and England. Dutch, Flemish, and German potteries of the late 14th cent. made a distinctive stoneware, known as Cologne ware or grès de Flandres, with stamped or profusely modeled decoration; most of the examples exhibit a lead glaze, though a cream-colored variety was usually left unglazed. In the 1670s, John Dwight started to make stoneware jugs and mugs in England and climaxed his work with remarkable figurines and portrait busts of porcelaneous stoneware. By the turn of the century a white salt-glazed ware was being widely produced in Staffordshire. In the last quarter of the 18th cent. Josiah Wedgwood invented and developed two stonewares that are still justly prized: basalt ware and jasper ware. Stoneware remains one of the most common forms of ceramics and is often employed in commercial and industrial products. See porcelain.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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