Porcelain is a ceramic material that has been used in art and design for centuries. It is clay with kaolin which is fired in a kiln between 1200 and 1400 degrees Celcius. We all know that it can break, but it is relatively tough in comparison to other ceramic wares. This has something to do with the formation of glass when the mullite within when the clay is fired at those high temperatures in the kiln.
Porcelain takes its name from the Italian word porcellana for a shell. The semi-translucency and smooth surface were sufficiently similar for the Italians, at least, to make the connection between the two. In English speaking countries China or fine China became the household name for the ceramic ware, because the invention came from China. The making of Porcelain remained a close-guarded secret for centuries given that it was one of several important export articles from the China.
Here you can read an article about an artist working with porcelain amongst other ceramic materials.
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