If you’ve ever happened across a beautiful and rare piece of art pottery and seen damage due to neglect or carelessness, you likely felt a sense of frustration and loss. Unlike some other art forms, each and every piece of American art pottery has its own unique place in history and is symbolic of its respective era – and it simply cannot be replaced.
It’s for this reason that collectors are extremely cautious and it’s also why any collector worth his salt will encourage others to incorporate as many safety precautions as possible – especially when they’re handling or cleaning their collection. Here are a few other tips that will help you protect your investment while keeping it dust free and clean.
First things first – if you’re considering cleaning damaged pieces, you should first allow a dealer to examine it to ensure your efforts won’t result in further damage. In fact, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion from someone in the industry before cleaning any pottery. There are few things worse than knowing your careful packing and other protective measures over the years are now irrelevant because you chose the wrong cleaning method.
There exists credible literature that says the brand Spic and Span is the best choice for cleaning most art pottery. That said, there are those who strongly discourage immersing any of your pieces in water. These divided mindsets are nothing new, but they’ll definitely take on new significance if you find yourself wrestling with the options. Often, a soft cloth that’s slightly dampened will remove the dust and other particles that’s accumulated on your collection. This is generally a safe option. A small amount of dish soap should also achieve the results you’re looking for if you wish to add it. Be sure to dry it with a soft towel. Naturally, you don’t want to add any harsh chemicals such as bleach into your pottery bath as it could damage the glaze.
Finally, before you get down to the business of cleaning your collection, it’s always a good idea to have everything you need within reach. Towels, damp cloths and a small bowl of water should be all you need. Some collectors will use heavy padding on their counters or work benches as an added security measure.
Regardless of how you choose to keep your pieces looking great, don’t underestimate the importance of treading lightly. And again, you can’t go wrong by seeking out the advice of experienced collectors and dealers before you risk losing value.