Large particle kaolin (left) and small-particle ball clay (right) DFAC tests (for drying performance) demonstrate the dramatic difference in drying shrinkage and performance between these two extremes (these disks are dried with the center portion covered to set up a water content differential to add stresses that cause cracking). These materials both feel super-smooth, in fact, the white one feels smoother. But the ultimate particles tell the opposite story. The ball clay particles (grey clay) are far smaller (ten times or more). The particles of the kaolin (white) are flatter and lay down as such, that is why it feels smoother.
During drying, clay particles draw together and shrinkage occurs. During firing the matrix densifies and shrinkage continues. More vitreous bodies shrink more.
Utlimate particles of ceramic materials are finer than can be measured even on a 325 mesh screen. These particles are the key players in the physical presence of the material.