Know-How: Crazed?

On 4th August 2003 Clay wrote:

While not a newcomer to collecting Hazle Ceramics, I am new to ceramic collecting as a hobby. As such, the description for some of the items on eBay that state "there is some limited crazing" needs definition. I think this means the piece has some kind of defect, ie splintered crackles. Is that what it is? How is it this happens to fine processed Hazle pieces? Is it a manufacturer defect and/or how they are cared for/stored - eg storage temperature? Thanks in advance for any enlightening replies.

Stephen replied:

To give a limited view on "crazing": All ceramics/porcelain/earthenware, because of the materials used, are constantly expanding and contracting. This means that the glazed coating has to expand and contract also. In construction of a piece a balance is achieved between the expansion/contraction rate of the body ie the ceramic and the expansion/contraction rate of the glaze. This means that the glaze is always under strain. Eventually in all ceramics/porcelain the strain will cause fine cracks or styrations. Just look at most older antique pieces and you will see this happening. 

The better the fit between body and glaze the less likely this is to happen. But you can imagine in a kiln where temperatures vary (just like you probably have cooler spots in your kitchen oven) there are different stresses on the clay. Then we have to take into consideration the atmosphere that ceramics are kept in. The more moist/humid the environment then the more expansion/contraction and therefore the greater strain. I know of someone who keeps their "Hazles" in a shower room, for instance, which is asking for trouble. Also remember do not immerse them in water - you can gently wet wipe the glazed surface but never the unglazed parts.

I collect "Suzy Cooper" tableware and do not consider crazing an issue that affects their collectability. Now if I had to eat off them that would be a different matter.

Marilyn wrote:

Crazing tends to occur more frequently in early pieces. Hazle has given two reasons:

1. When she started out, ceramics were glazed by the traditional method of dipping. Glaze accumulates more thickly in some areas which are then particularly prone to crazing due to less flexibility. Later the glaze was brushed on to give a more even coating. Nowadays it is a fine spray.  

2. Hazle changed her clay in the third year after realising she had not been given the best advice on the 'fit between body and glaze'.

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