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Caring for your fine craft may seem daunting at times… after all, someone put all their talent and effort into making the piece, it only seems right to make the extra effort to ensure the piece lasts and lasts.  But caring for your fine craft may not be as onerous as you may think. Here are some tips to keep your treasures looking and functioning their best:

Ceramics:

  • Wash by hand. Although relatively safe in a dishwasher, all dishwasher detergents are abrasive and hard on the finish of everything in your dishwasher – even things as indestructible as Pyrex and Corning ware. Glazes will look shinier for longer if you take the extra time to wash by hand.
  • If the dishwasher is a must, top rack is best.
  • If there is any luster finish on the piece (which looks like metallic or gold), these pieces are absolutely hand-wash only – unless you are prepared to see that glint of gold disappear.
  • Casseroles, pie plates, baking dishes are usually oven safe, but be sure to keep the contents evenly distributed in the piece, especially when reheating food. Also, these pieces are not meant for freezer storage nor stovetop cooking… so keep them for baking or serving.
  • Warming a teapot is an old English tradition that has its roots in practicality. Not only does it keep the water at the proper steeping temperature longer, it also helps to temper the teapot so the hot water doesn’t shock it, which can lead to cracking.
  • Raku is a special ceramic technique and firing that results in a more porous and delicate ceramic object. It is never food safe. Do not fill raku vases with water as it will seep out of the walls quickly.  Raku vases are decorative and meant for dry arrangements only.

Fibre:

  • Keep out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  • Wall hangings will not need laundering, but an occasional shaking, tapping or gentle beating will remove dust.
  • Scarves should be hand-washed in a gentle detergent or shampoo and then lain flat to dry.  Wrinkles may be removed with a warm iron. Test with a small area first and protect with an overlay of a cotton pillowcase between the scarf and the iron to protect the scarf from direct heat.
  • Don’t machine wash wool or alpaca. Soak in a tub of gentle soap and water and rinse thoroughly.  Wring out in a towel and lay flat to dry.

Wood:

  • Never soak a wooden bowl or cutting board. Wash with water and dish detergent and rinse thoroughly, but dry with a towel immediately. Rub with a light oil such as grape seed or sunflower oil and remove all excess.
  • Do not rub salad bowls with cloves of garlic unless you want to taste and smell that same garlic for the life of the bowl.
  • Jewellery box drawers and trays can swell or shrink depending on the climate. Keep wooden boxes in a relatively dry non-humid place (best not to have them in the bathroom or shower room).

Jewellery:

  • Silver loves to be next to skin and will not usually tarnish if it is worn regularly. But if you only wear it on special occasions, store silver in plastic bags to inhibit tarnishing.
  • For a quick, non-chemical cleaning solution, dip your silver jewellery in a hot water bath with one tablespoon of baking soda and a strip of aluminum foil floating near the bottom. When the silver is dipped and touches the foil, the silver will brighten and the tarnish will often disappear. Rinse with clear water.
  • Always store your necklaces in larger trays to avoid tangling and kinking of the chains.

Glass:

  • Always wash by hand. All dishwasher detergents are abrasive and will eventual erode the finish of everything in your dishwasher. Your glassware will last for generations if you take the extra time to wash by hand.
  • Display in a window… glass loves light!
  • Glass sculptures also love to be touched, but grease from fingers will do no favors to the finish.  Glass surfaces can be buffed with the same cloth you use to clean your eyeglasses. No need to use glass cleaners unless the piece was soiled with sticky dirt.
  • Glass bowls and plates are not meant for hot foods. Use them for cool or room temperature serving only – then wash them by hand.

Stone:

  • Stone sculptures can often be made of soft stones such as soapstone, chlorite and alabaster.  When handling a sculpture made from these materials, always remove jewellery to prevent unintentional scratches and nicks to the surface.
  • Display stone sculptures away from direct sunlight. They are often polished with oil or wax which can cloud and dull when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.
  • Alabaster vases can hold water for short periods of time. If using an alabaster vase for a floral arrangement, remove water after a few hours to prevent seeping.

Metal:

  • Iron bowls are not generally food safe. If sealed with paste wax, it will last for generations if kept dry. To clean, just wipe with a soft cloth. To keep the finish pristine, occasionally apply a fresh coat of paste wax.
  • Silverware is food safe and will remain beautiful if treated gently. Wash by hand (do not soak) and buff dry with a soft cloth. Tarnish can be removed with a commercial silver cleaner and a soft polishing cloth.
  • Bronze can be cleaned and brightened with simple citric acid – which can be bought in most grocery stores.

Fine craft is best enjoyed when it is being used for its purpose, be it holding a steaming cup of coffee or wrapping you in woolen warmth – so don’t be afraid to use it. And by taking care of your fine craft, you will be contributing to its lifespan which could be many, many generations away from its initial creation. But be sure to use common sense when cleaning and displaying your treasures… if it seems like a bad idea, don’t do it!


Thanks to Alberta Craft Council for the tips on how to best look after your fine craft!

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