Buying Pottery Online – Flaw Definitions

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Picture of Pottery Dishes - Tipnut.comWhen buying collectibles and vintage pottery items online, it’s good to know what the various flaw terms used in the item descriptions actually mean.

Here’s my collection of notes, please add to them if you’d like:

Pottery Flaws, Flea Bites, Chiggers & More

  • Crazing: A crackling effect in the glaze; A spidery type crackling effect–looks like crackle glass. Not detectable when you rub you fingernail over it.
  • Chip: Is a chip–this goes down into the clay. The glaze and the pottery itself has a piece chipped off…it can measure from 1/16″ to 1/2″.
  • Crack: Is a crack in the piece.
  • Hairline: Is a crack that is very thin and tight. Sometimes you can only hear a hairline crack and not see it (for the more experienced).
  • Chunk or Chunker: Is a chip but over 1/2″.
  • Skip: Is a factory flaw where the glaze is lighter or did not cover the entire piece.
  • Scratch: Is a scratch.
  • Flea Bite: Is a raised bubble bump or a tiny nick. Sometimes you can’t see them well, but running your fingernail across the piece will pick up the flaw.
  • Pinpoint: Is smaller than a fleabite, like the point of a pin. Most dealers consider this mint.
  • Chigger Bite: Is a tiny chip that removes the glaze from a spot, but doesn’t go into the clay.
  • Glaze Slip: Is a part of the pottery where the glaze did not cover.
  • Glaze Pop: Is a popped air bubble that burst at the surface of the glaze during firing.
  • Kiln Kiss or Kiln Flaw: Is a little spot where the piece touched another piece in the kiln and made a glaze pimple on one piece and possible glaze loss on the other.
  • Factory Flaw: Is a flaw that covers less common types of flaws. More description should be included.
  • Staining: Piece is stained or cloudy
  • Peppering: Tiny black specks in the glaze, normally white or light colored glazes.
  • Sick Color: The color is off or wrong for some reason. Not a rare color.

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Published: November 29, 2006

What Readers Are Saying:
2 Comments to “Buying Pottery Online – Flaw Definitions”
  1. carrie kealey says:

    Thank you so much for the information. When looking on-line for information everyone wants money for info!! The net has become so AWEFUL!! Free in an otherwise over priced industry is wonderful. Again many thank you’s.

    carrie kealey

  2. Philip Simmons says:

    I have a 3-gallon stoneware salt-glaze brown-on-top-of-white churn/crock that has two vertical lines running from top to bottom, each line exactly opposite the other, that makes the piece look like it was done as a two-piece mold — two vertical halves put together. These lines do not appear on the bottom. I’m pretty sure this is probably a firing flaw, but I’ve never seen anything like it and can’t comprehend how it could happen in firing.
    The lines are very shallow and do not affect the strength or integrity of the piece. They are not cracks and do not look like cracks. They look like mold marks, but I’m almost certain the piece was hand-thrown.
    If this is a firing flaw, can you please explain how it happened?
    Also, can you identify the maker? The only mark is a 3 inside an outline heart.
    Thank you!


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