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Pottery Aftercare

So you've spent ages painting the perfect mug, plate, vase, teapot...... You're so proud of it you've possibly posted a photo on Instagram or TikTok, you feel good for being creative and having something to show for your time. You waited a few weeks for it to be fired then it looked even better than you remembered when you came to collect it!


Like anything you treasure that is a one-off keepsake there's a few things you need to do to keep it safe, this is a guide to what to expect from your pottery if you treat it right, to keep your precious pottery safe forever and ever and ever.


Do not put pottery in the diswasher!

You will notice that on the bottom of your Asda-bought mugs there is a little sign that tells you if it's dishwasher safe. There is not this sign on the bottom of your handpainted pieces! Simply put, the extreme temperatures in the dishwasher could cause the glaze to crack which in turn will let water into the ceramic body, weakening the whole piece. Over the life of the piece regular dishwashing will cause the glaze to go dull and the dishwasher tablets will have an abrasive effect.


Do I put mine in the dishwasher? Yep! But then I'm in the fortunate situation that I own a pottery studio so painting myself a new mug is not a problem. But if you've paid good money to come and create something, or if you have precious baby toes printed on them, you'll find that a handwash will be enough to keep them lovely!


Microwave?

Nope. I don't recommend anyone puts their handpainted items in the microwave. The clay body of the pottery is porous. Those pores behave like a sponge soaking up moisture. For example, if you are heating soup in a mug, the microwave may heat the soup to a suitable temperature, but the mug itself could burn your mouth where it's overheated. I'm sure you've got certain bits of crockery that get hotter than others... and now you know why! You're better not to stick it in the microwave and protect yourself against burns.


Baubles & Christmas Ornaments

Be careful where they are stored! The glaze over the top of the ceramic is thin and can be prone to thermal shock. In most cases this will not damage the pottery but will 'crack' or 'craze' the glaze. You'll see very fine lines across the surface. If you store your Christmas ornaments in the shed or in the attic, be aware that across the course of a year getting hot and cold with all the temperatures as the seasons change may cause this. My advice: stick your plastic/manmade decs in the loft but keep your ceramic ones wrapped safely somewhere where there is less risk of thermal shock.

Please note, particularly on rounded items such as baubles, the slighest knock can also cause the over glaze to crack so treat them carefully and pack them with lots of padding.

Crazing, or cracking of the outside glaze can happen to a piece worth a fiver just as much as a piece worth £500. It can happen 3 days after firing or 30 years... or never. But with this advice you're much more likely to get 'forever' out of them!



Outside Items

The same applies as above - if you're putting items in the garden or on a graveside be aware that in a severe temperature drop or hard frost you might find that the glaze crazes and cracks. It'll be unlikely the pottery will crack but if the glaze cracks then eventually the item will absorb the moisture and weaken the piece. If you can, bring them in during the depths of winter.


It's worth noting that some pottery appears indestrucible and some doesn't, you'll hear stories of people using dishwashers and microwaves all the time with no adverse effects. Yay for them! What I'm saying is that YOU need to decide for you how your pottery is looked after because it's precious to you, not them.


The Hive advice is to follow all of the above and protect your keepsakes forever in the very best way you can!


If you'd like more in depth advice, chat to us when you're in the studio!

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