Is your newly purchased pottery food safe?

A friend sent me a note this morning with regard to a piece of pottery that she had received as a gift. She didn’t think that it had glaze on the inside of it and wondered about using it. So, I thought I would put some information out there with regard to using pottery in your “every day life”. ( You know that is what C2C is all about.)

If you are like me, when I travel, I consider what I would like to bring home as a reminder of the holiday. Sometimes, I purchase gifts for friends and family. When, considering pottery, these are the considerations:
Will your gift be just a decorative piece, to be enjoyed over time? Reminding you of a lovely day?
Do you want to use the mug, bowl, tile, plate in your daily life? If yes. Here is a simple test. You can set the ceramics on a counter, cut a wedge of lemon, placing it on or in the piece of pottery. Let it sit over night. The next day, look closely at the location of where the lemon sat for several hours (12 or so). Is there any discoloration? Changes in the piece? If yes, then, your piece is probably not food safe. The glaze is not a good fit with the clay body or it is low fired (think raku).

Raku fired pots are a type of firing that creates metallic shine, crackles, and many times areas of raw clay that will provide a black decorative element. Raku is not water tight which means that fresh cut flowers will probably not work for vases fired in this manner.
If you purchase ceramics in the USA, most potters know if their artwork is truly functional and food safe. When, traveling internationally, I always talk with the artisan, asking about how they create their work. If you ask enough questions, you will learn enough about their making, so that when you return, you can stop into the gallery and we can help you decide whether it is food safe.

I ask questions like this:
Where do you get your clay?
How did you make this piece?
If in their studio, I ask to see their kiln (mostly because potters love to see other potter’s tools and equipment. And, I am a potter.). You will get to see if they have taken care of their equipment and see if it is an electric, gas, wood, or other type of firing. All good information.
If in a foreign country, asking how long it takes to fire their work and where they fire can uncover information.
At the end of the day, do you love the piece? That is what is important.

Buy it (support artists). (The image above is what I purchased while in Italy this spring. I immediately loved it – think water.)
Incorporate it into your every day life.
Enjoy it for many years and try to do something creative today. It is good for your soul. C2.
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