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When I first started doing ceramics there was terms describing things that go wrong with pottery and ceramics and until I had seen a piece that had a certain flaw or damage, it didn't mean much to me.
FLAWSFlaws are defects, visible marks or inclusions made during the manufacturing process.
These flaws do not always affect value but they may do so, depending on the looks and severity of them.
A few seed bubbles in the stem of an antique glass piece will most likely not affect value.
But seed bubbles throughout the whole piece may affect the value.
The presence of kiln marks on some types of pottery is common and is not generally considered a flaw.
Blue Ridge Pottery is well known for glaze pops.
DAMAGEDamage describes defects made through use, handling, cleaning or storage.
Damage includes nicks, cracks, scratches, paint wear and crazing.
Damage generally affects the value of a piece.
Terms like "Excellent Condition" or "Very Good Condition" are often referred to and will mean different things to different people!
While we may state that an item is in very good condition, every effort should be made to include the specific details so that the prospective buyer can make his or her own assessment.
This page is to provide the general public with a common language for the condition of ceramic or pottery items.
Light ScratchesScratches which do not score the surface of the item.
They can be seen but not felt.
Deep ScratchesScratches which score the surface of the item and can be felt with a fingernail.
Deep scratches usually are measured in inches.
Storage ScratchesLight surface scratches on the inside an item caused by having another item stored inside, often seen as a ring.
These scratches do not score the surface and do not lead to chips or nicks.
ScuffSmall area of concentrated scratches, generally caused by rubbing against another item over time.
Smaller and more concentrated than storage scratches.
Stained ScratchesScratches which contain permanent stains within them.
FLAKESThey are shallow chips that are less than 1/4 inch.
Shallow ChipsChips greater than 1/4 inch which are close to the surface of an item.
Generally not immediately visible upon viewing the item
Deep ChipsChips are deep enough into the item to be visible immediately and which can be easily felt with a finger.
NicksDeep chips of less than 1/4 inch which are the same in glass as well as pottery and ceramics.
Pinpoint NickTiny fairly round little nick no larger than the size of a pencil point.
Often referred to this as a "fleabite."
Gold, Platinum or Silver WearWear to the metallic trim on an item.
Wear may be described in estimated percentages - as in, "gold trim is approximately 90% intact."
Decal DeteriorationWear or disintegration of an under the glaze decorative decal.
May be described in estimated percentages - as in, "only about 5% wear to the center decal."
Paint WearWear to painted decoration applied after manufacture.
In pottery, this is often referred to as "cold paint" wear.
May be described in estimated percentages - as in, "approximately 20% overall paint wear."
Paint RubSmall concentrated area on unglazed items such as head vases, where paint has been rubbed away.
A crack which goes completely through the piece, and affects the structural integrity of the piece or which is immediately visible upon inspection of the piece.
HairlineA very tight, narrow crack which does not affect the structural integrity of the piece and which is not immediately visible.
Permanent Water StainStain caused by water left in a vessel for a long period of time.
They are also found on "dug" items, which are items that have been buried for a long period of time.
On glass, water stains appear as white, foggy, or cloudy stains, often with a slight iridescent hue.
On pottery, these stains appear as rough, white deposits.
Stain caused by use that has permanently stained the item.
Food stains can be under the glaze, usually surrounding a flaw or over the glaze.
Food stains are generally brown or gray.
CRAZINGA network of spidery cracks in the surface of the glaze.
May be described in estimated percentages or by location such as in, "light crazing over 100% of the item" or "heavy crazing on the pedestal only."
Light CrazingVery light and only visible upon close inspection.
Heavy CrazingA network of spidery cracks in the surface of the glaze.
Stained CrazingCrazing that has become stained over time by water or food, and appears as a dark, network of lines.
Sun PurpleGlass that has turned slightly purple or lavender.
Caused by exposure to the sun.
Most sun purple glass occurs naturally, but some sellers intentionally create sun purple glass.
MANUFACTURING FLAWS IN POTTERY AND PORCELAIN
Glaze PopSmall round hole in the glaze formed when a small bubble of glaze popped during firing.
Glaze SkipA place where the glaze did not cover the pottery during manufacture.
May show as unglazed pottery or may have a final, shiny glaze over it.
Stilt MarksTiny unglazed bubbles on the underside of pottery that was suspended on stilts during firing.
There are usually three in a triangular pattern.
Kiln KissA small spot where the piece touched another piece in the kiln, leaving a small "pimple".
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Have you ever come up with a good idea while working with your handmade pottery or ceramics and thought that you would like to share it with others? You have? Well, why not send it to us and we will add it to the tips page for all to see.
Handmade pottery can be a very gratifying hobby that produces fun and satisfying results. For many people it's an enjoyable release that is created by working an inanimate mound of clay into a beautiful work of art that you made through your artistic abilities.
The best way of starting out is to take a few lessons. You will probably waste quite a bit in materials when you first get started. Figuring out how to truly make handmade pottery correctly and shape into what you want it to be can be quite an ordeal. The different tools that a normal shop will have can be fun to try. You will soon see which ones you like to use the most and then when you are ready you will know which ones to buy.
With the help of the internet, you can now purchase most if not all of your ceramic and pottery tools and supplies online. We are located far from any well supplied dealers and yet working with reliable ceramic and pottery suppliers online has allowed us to recieve most of our orders within a timely manner.
When you get all set up, just enjoy the hobby and have fun at it. Some people get pretty serious and start selling their creations at craft fairs and small stores, but others just like to create items for themselves, relatives, and friends. Whichever kind of handmade pottery you desire to endeavor, enjoy the hobby and have fun doing it.
Stash It, Smash It, Crush It,
Tye Dye It, Fly Tye It, Simplify It,
Buy It, the OutBack Hat.
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