Earthenware is clay that when fired to make pottery is soft and can be scratched with a knife. It is generally easier to shape on the wheel than porcelain. Due to its porosity, earthenware must be glazed in order to be watertight.
Earthenware articles may be thick and heavy or as thin as bone china and porcelain, though they are not translucent and are more easily chipped. They are less strong than stoneware.
After firing most earthenware bodies will be coloured white, buff or red. For red earthenware, the firing temperature affects the colour of the clay body. Lower temperatures produce a typical red terracotta colour; higher temperatures will make the clay brown or even black. Every clay has a temperature at which the body becomes weak and sags. Higher firing temperatures may cause earthenware to bloat.