Written by Jessica Graybill
Handmade Italian ceramics are an investment, and as such, we know you want to keep them in tip-top shape! Though they don’t really require too much effort, we have compiled some advice that will help preserve your beautiful keepsakes for years to come. Ceramics are some of the only relics we have of certain ancient civilizations, so suffice it to say that it is naturally a very long-lasting, durable material. With the proper care, your pottery can last a lifetime!
Our dinnerware and serving pieces are food safe and dishwasher safe. When using your dishwasher, use a low heat cycle or the “fine china” setting, and make sure to place the ceramics with enough space between one another to avoid bumping into each other during the dishwasher’s cycle. Larger, more decorative pieces are best left to hand-washing.
We do not recommend our ceramics for microwave use (the one exception being our Campagna collections which are microwave safe!). However, sometimes on busy mornings we forget our coffee while we’re bustling about and it gets a little too cool for comfort – in this case, it’s usually fine to pop your mug in the microwave, but only for about 30 seconds at a time and never to boil liquids in them.
If your favorite mugs become coffee or tea stained over time, dilute two tablespoons of bleach into 4 cups of water and fill your stained cups with the solution – let soak for just a minute or two, then thoroughly wash with dish soap and water like you normally would.
Do not use pottery in the oven or on the stovetop unless the piece is specifically made for it – at this time, only our Campagna collections have baking dishes available.
Because of the porous nature of earthenware, ceramics can easily be damaged if they are exposed to quick fluctuations in temperature, such as going from cold or room-temperature to very hot. I always place a metal spoon in my mug (loaded with honey, but of course that’s a personal preference! ?) before pouring my piping hot coffee into it – the metal of the spoon absorbs just enough of the heat to reduce the thermal shock on the pottery itself. This tip should also help to minimize crazing – the tendency of ceramic pieces to form minuscule (though superficial and not harmful) lines within the glaze. However, crazing itself is a completely normal occurrence; the tiny fissures are just in the surface of the glaze, they do not affect the durability of the pottery and they are not a defect. It occurs because the clay body of the piece and the glaze surface expand and contract at different rates when they are heated and cooled – sometimes, even fluctuations in room temperature can contribute to crazing! Pottery is alive.
Another word about the porosity of earthenware; we sell many oil and vinegar cruet sets, and they are perfect for serving your favorite gourmet olive oils and vinegars at the table during dinner. You can even leave the olive oil in the bottle day in and day out, but vinegar, being acidic, tends to eat through even fully-glazed ceramic bottles – it won’t happen right away, so a day here and there won’t be an issue, but it’s important to remember that they are meant for serving and not for storage (as far as vinegar is concerned).
Yes, you can absolutely leave the planters and tables and benches outside, year-round, in all types of weather, and they will be just fine! In fact, all of our pottery has been high-fired multiple times, to thousands of degrees, so it’s all quite durable and will be fine in hot sun, cold rain, or snow, and every weather pattern in between. Though, if you live in an area that experiences hard freezes, you may want to bring your plants inside during winter, because if the moist soil freezes, the expansion of the dirt can put the pottery in danger of cracking. If you want to read more about our incredibly durable volcanic stone tables, click over to this blog entry.
All of this may sound like a lot, but we promise these tips are easily integrated into your daily routine and the small amount of effort expended is so worth it to keep your treasured items in good shape.