A Guide to Crazing, What is it and is it Good or Bad?

04 May
If you are a collector of vintage then you've probably heard of crazing but do you know what it really is? If not then you might enjoy this post!

I'll tell you what I know about it and show you some of my favorite pieces in my collection!

A guide to crazing
What is Crazing?

Have you ever seen a piece of pottery where the surface looks like it’s covered with a spider web of tiny cracks? 

That’s called crazing. 

They are not cracks in the actual piece of pottery but rather surface-level cracks in the fired glazed of the piece.

What Causes Crazing?
  • It can be caused by temperature and humidity changes. For example, if you move from New Orleans (the city in the US with the highest humidity level) to Arizona (where it is dryer than a popcorn fart)!
  • It can be caused by moisture damage (if you used a piece as a planter).
  • It can be caused from being bumped and moved around a lot (in storage, etc.)
  • It generally happens with age though, that’s why you see vintage and antique items with crazing more often than new items. Much like humans with wrinkles developing as we age, pottery develops these crazing “wrinkles” as it ages.

Does Crazing Affect the Stability of a Piece?

Technically crazing is considered a defect in the glaze and can weaken the item. It may also harbor bacteria. So if you are buying pieces to use for serving food you should look for uncrazed pieces.

Can I Remove Crazing?

No, but you can try to remove the matter that has settled into these fine craze lines that makes them visible. 

The discoloration is caused by a combination of moisture that can penetrate these lines combined with organic matter such as coffee, tea, oil, food, dust, etc. that morphs into a form of bacteria. 

It sits between the lines or in the clay under the glaze so cannot be removed by scrubbing the surface.

There is a tutorial from Lakeside Pottery here if you’d like to try it: 

Does Crazing Affect the Value of a Piece?

"Value" is a very subjective thing in my opinion. If you are trying to sell something for what it's "worth" and it doesn't sell then is it really worth that?

But if you are a collector for your own personal enjoyment then it just depends on how you feel about worth and crazing. Now if you are a collector and you want to insure your collection then a professional appraiser will most likely take crazing into account when giving you an insurance value. The amount it may affect the value depends on the extent of the crazing. 

So how do you feel about crazing? Do you like it?

Personally, I think the crazing is beautiful. I am drawn to white pieces that have extensive crazing and staining as you can see from the pieces I've shown here!

I think most people don't care for it simply because every piece I have bought has been priced SO low! Not one of these pieces cost me more than $1.00!!

So, I'll be curious to hear your opinion :o)

This next one is my favorite!

It sits on the window ledge in my kitchen and holds the sponge.

This is the backside... obviously, the moisture has really gotten into the crazing lines on this piece!

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Crazed dishes pin

You might also like some of my other guides to vintage items below:

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