Ceramics Care Guide

Please see some information below about caring for your pieces.

Items are handmade from start to finish, and a significant amount of time is taken at each stage in production to ensure you receive a quality item. If you are careful with your handmade ceramics, they will last for a long time.

Thermal Shock

Like glass, ceramics are susceptible to thermal shock if they are heated up or cooled too quickly. This means that items could develop a hairline crack or even break when put under a sudden change of temperature, usually at a rate of +10°C per minute.

Advice about using or caring for pottery can be mixed depending on where you have purchased it. Some incredibly experienced potters who have been in the industry for decades advise against using boiling liquids in/on items due to the possibility of thermal shock, whereas other potters will say it is completely fine to use boiling water to make your cups of tea, and will not cause any issues. Without going into too much detail about the science of ceramics, generally, it comes down to glaze used and the glaze fit on the item, and the type of clay (there are so many types of clay!).
 

Knowing my glaze and clay combos well, I have absolutely no issue with you using boiling water to make your hot drinks, except for coffee because that would be sacrilegious.

I've been making ceramics for over 6 years and haven't yet had a breakage reported due to thermal shock (frantically touches wood as I type that), but that doesn't mean that it won't happen in future. I once owned a glass Pyrex measuring jug which I used for several years without issue and then one day whilst measuring boiling water, it shattered. Glass and ceramics are vulnerable materials.

Washing Items
 

Items can be washed in a dishwasher if this is most convenient for you but please read this section carefully first.

Some potters don't recommend washing handmade ceramics in a dishwasher but an average dishwasher isn't heating at a rate of +10°C per minute. Even a hot 65°C washing cycle should not cause any issues or thermal shock. If you own a super dishwasher that runs a washing cycle in 6 minutes or less, firstly, hit me up because I get through a lot of dishes and could really do with that machine, secondly, consider handwashing your handmade ceramics.

I own lots of handmade ceramics, made by myself or by other very talented potters. I wash items in the dishwasher and have, so far, not had any damages due to washing, only damages caused by me being slightly heavy-handed when emptying or loading the dishwasher. I have found that certain dishwasher products can dull the surface of certain glazes ever so slightly - perhaps the material in some cleaners is a bit too abrasive? Avoid dishwashing if you're concerned about this.

 

Usual care should be applied when washing items. If handwashing, try not to knock items against other things or the side of the sink, especially handles on mugs or jugs. If you do decide to use the dishwasher, when loading or unloading items, don't do what I tend to do and smack items against the edge of the machine or recklessly balance a mug precariously on a rack meant for plates. It isn't going to end well.
 

If an item stains on the surface, like mugs used for coffee and tea, I recommend using a thin layer of bicarbonate of soda or baking powder and cover all marks (it will stick to the sides of mugs if you wet them first). Leave for a few minutes and then wipe with a damp cloth or sponge. 

Microwave and Oven Use

Do not - and I cannot stress this enough - do not use your ceramic items in the microwave. There are metallic elements in clays and some glazes, and this could damage your microwave. Even if you don't care for your kitchen appliances much, to come back to the thermal shock spiel, you're heating up an item incredibly quickly. If it breaks, this will be why.

 

Oven use is absolutely fine. Pre-heat your dinnerware before your soiree, or even bake or cook in them. Ovens heat up slowly causing minimal impact on ceramic items.

Other Bits

Some more 'glassy' glazes may be susceptible to an initial pinging noise for the first few uses or washes. This is nothing to worry about and it should eventually stop. It is caused by the change of temperature, much like thermal shock but on a much, much smaller scale. 

I have some items bought years ago which still make the odd ping noise on occasion even now. Keeps me on my toes.

Tiny network of lines appearing on items after use? This is known as crazing. Crazing is a common effect which may cause an unusual surface pattern on items. It happens more in glassy glazes, so those glazes with an opaque or translucent top layer.

Some potters will strive to create pieces with crazing as it can give a spectacular result. Crazing is nothing to be concerned about unless there is a sharp break in the surface or if you aren't washing items thoroughly. It is high-fired stoneware with no nasty added bits that would leech.

 

There are tonnes of articles about crazing on the web. A great article which goes into lots of detail about crazing and hygiene is available at https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/ceramics-monthly/ceramics-monthly-article/Techno-File-Dirty-Dishes - you do not need to subscribe to Ceramic Arts Network to view this, it's free.

Customer Feedback

Pottery takes years of experience, and I am still learning even after many years of producing items. I would like to ensure customers are happy with items that they have purchased from me.  If you have had any issues with your pieces, or feedback on how you find it after using it for a period of time, please let me know as soon as possible - good or bad. Your feedback will help me in my pottery journey.

If you have any other questions about caring for your items, please do get in touch with me and I'll be happy to assist.