I'm by no means a professional potter, but it's quite a serious hobby. I think I like making something solid that everyone can appreciate because I have spent so much time writing software which is so abstract. Particularly with domestic ware there are some of the same principles of ease of use and practicality, being fit for purpose but also pleasing to use or look at.
Keep an eye on my list of projects for the great Potter's Tandoor design project.
Ceramic fired to 1000°C to 1150°C is classed as Earthenware. Stoneware covers anything fired above 1250°C, and in practice it usually means quite a bit higher. Mid-range firing covers the middle ground and centres around 1200°C.
I fire my kiln to 1200°C for a number of reasons. It means that I get most of the density, durability and water-tightness of stoneware. That is to say that any domestic ware I make is oven, freezer and dishwasher safe. Firing the kiln the extra 80 or so degrees to get to stoneware (and many potters fire even higher than that) requries disproportionatly higher energy and places a much greater stress on the kiln fabric and elements.
I'm no real expert on glazing, but I do take a real interest in what goes on in the kiln, and I'm not afraid to experiment. I would certainly rather make up my own glazes to a recipe rather than rely on something 'out of a bottle' which I cannot reproduce if the supplier decides to discontinue it.
The range of well known glazes at 1200°C is smaller than the earthenware or stoneware ranges. This is, however, changing as people experiment. It has become a popular firing temperature in the United States and Michael Bailey has written an excellent book on working at mid-range temperatures.