Tag Archives: ceramics

New Website Feature: Search By Price

We’re always trying to find ways to improve the Perfect Pieces site – especially to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

It occurred to us recently that while finding something by name isn’t too difficult, finding a selection of pieces within a certain price range was pretty near impossible.

We’ve now introduced our ‘search by price range’ feature – it’s just below the main menu bar, near the top of the screen. If you’re looking for a gift (or a treat for yourself), you’ll more than likely have a price range in mind.

You can now see all the pieces on the site in a certain price range simply by clicking on the relevant link. At any one time we usually have at least 100 pieces in stock, with prices starting from under £25 and finishing well over £500.

You can now see all of the pieces in one price range – regardless of manufacturer – just by clicking on the apropriate price range:

price-range-screenshot.jpg

We hope you’ll find this useful – let us know what you think!

Professional Ceramics Photography on a Budget

One of the areas we’ve learnt quite a lot about since we started selling pottery online is how to photograph it.

I think the photos on our site are reasonably good – clear and sharp on balanced backgrounds – but there’s no doubt a professional studio shot would add a touch of extra class to each one.

The problem is cost.

At more upmarket antiques fairs, it is quite common to see lighting cubes and tents such as these for sale. Although they don’t cost the earth, they aren’t exactly cheap, either – especially once you have bought some lights as well.

Instead of this, we use a large sheet of white fabric, placed up against a wall so that it provides a flat white surface below the item and a smooth, matching background behind it (allow the fabric to curve gradually from horizontal to vertical – don’t crease it). The result looks like this:

Troika wheel vase photographic background

It’s pretty good, I think. The only time we come across real problems are with pieces that reflect the flashlight from our camera particularly badly. That’s when photo cubes really come into their own.

All is not lost, however – I recently came across a simple DIY design for a photocube that shouldn’t cost more than a few pounds.

Cynthia Guajardo is a ceramic artist living in Denver, Colorado and has obviously faced exactly the same problems (and budgetary constraints!) that we have. In her blog, she recently provided an overview of her portable light box (or cube) design.

Cynthia got here inspiration from a very popular photography blog – Strobist – so see here for more details on how to make the most of this design.

It looks like it should work well – used in the sunshine it won’t need additional lighting, and used indoors it should be possible to improvise with interior lighting (especially if you have any halogen lamps) to create the desired effect.

We’re going to try creating one of these – for the number of photos we take it should come in handy. Even if you only sell a few things on eBay occassionally, why not give it a try? Professional-looking photography will help give your bidders confidence and present your item as well as possible.

A Sad Image From Poole

I’ve blogged about the demise of Poole Pottery before, and of the risk to the nearby Swan Inn – a wonderful example of architectural ceramics.

I came across a picture today which encapsulates what has happened perfectly – how can such a historic pub in this location (with loads of residential housing nearby) not be a viable business?

And why won’t the council support it as part of Poole’s heritage?

N.B. I believe the tiles were from the old Poole Pottery / Carter & Co. company, but am not certain of this. They certainly look right for Poole – especially those swans.

To learn more about the closure of Poole Pottery and what has happened to the company since it closed last December, click on the “Poole Pottery” tag below.

How to Check Ceramics for Damage, Restoration & Wear (Part 1)

Buying antique pottery and ceramics can be a risky process. It’s all too easy to get home and find that you’ve missed a hairline crack, a restored handle or one of the hundreds of other faults that might
exist.

While there is nothing wrong with choosing to buy ceramics in less than perfect condition, I am sure that you, like I do, prefer to know about it beforehand and make sure the price paid reflects the condition.

Poor saleroom and fair lighting, inaccurate descriptions and even unscrupulous dealers can all combine to make buying safely harder than it should be.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, we’ve put together a guide to checking ceramics – from identity and authenticity through to checking for damage, restoration and wear.

We’ve divided this guide into two parts:

Part 1 – Checking the authenticity and identity of a piece

Part 2 – Inspecting a piece for faults, damage, wear and restoration

1. What is it?

Sounds obvious, but is the piece you are looking at what it’s being sold as?

Check that the shape, pattern and pottery markings are all consistent with each other and with the piece itself. Mis-described and incorrectly marked (when manufactured) pieces aren’t unknown, although
they are uncommon.

Don’t be afraid to dig out a pattern guide or reference book to check a pattern or shape number – no one remembers them all!

Once you are happy with the authenticity of the piece, check it is complete.

Should it have a lid, frog (for flowers), detachable handle (e.g. biscuit barrels) or perhaps an accompanying spoon, knife or box?

It’s a case of caveat emptor, I’m afraid – you need to think about what you’re seeing and ask any questions before you buy. Any reputable dealer should be happy (and able) to explain why something is the way
it is.

2. Have The Years Left Their Mark?

It should always be apparent if a piece has some “age” or not. Even if it is in immaculate condition and has been stored away from bright light, dust and dirt, it should still feel old.

This is a hard one to describe – but if unsure look for small details:

  • Do the pottery markings look old?
  • Is the base a little worn/dirty where it has stood on different surfaces?
  • Is there any crazing?
  • Is there any dirt, discolouration or wear? Look in nooks and crannies or where lids, etc. fit on the main body

If you’ve been through each of the checks I’ve descrbed, you should now have a fairly good idea of the identity and authenticity of your piece – and you will probably already have noticed any obvious damage
or restoration to it.

To learn more about how to spot and understand damage, wear and restoration, check out Part 2 of this post by clicking on the link below:

Part 2 – Inspecting a piece for faults, damage, wear and restoration