Coming Clean

Mar 20, 2020 • Connie Matisse

A guide on caring for your pottery and brass!

A guide on caring for your pottery and brass!

A care guide for your pots, yourself, each other.
On our first call together, my business coach, Desiree Adaway, asked questions about my working style. I said something along the lines of "I don't take breaks. I work 60 hours a week. I get frustrated with people who have inflexible boundaries. I don't have time to take care of myself. I work this hard because I need to. I need to. I have to. I don't have time."

Desiree hmphed. "Connie—I'm gonna stop you right there. I know you. I've been you. I need you to hear this: you're gonna run yourself into the ground and you're gonna take everyone along with you. That sense of urgency you operate under 24-7? That urgency is a tool of white supremacy." 

Urgency is a tool of white supremacy. That phrase has been front and center for me this winter. This week, with a light shining bright on the cobweb-covered corners of my personhood and domestic life that I've been neglecting because I've been too busy, I'm grateful for the reminder.

What's this have to do with anything? 
Alex and I have still been working a 40+ hour week—shifting strategies and making contingency plans—but, probably like many of you, I've also been sleeping a little more, cooking three meals a day, organizing closets, fixing things in my home that are broken, and taking stock of the objects that comprise our domestic landscape. Along with fear and anxiety about what happens next, there's a sense of stillness I can feel in my body that I've been out of touch with for a long, long time. A teacher of mine in 9th grade, paraphrasing Lao Tzu, once told us, "If the bowl is dirty, wash it." There's calm in the call to action to tend the gardens we've sowed. 

We'd planned months ago to send this newsletter about how to care for your pots— long before we were all shut in with our dirty dishes—but it seemed timely, so here we go. First, a few easy answers to frequently asked questions:

1) Can I put my East Fork dishes in the dishwasher: Yes, absolutely. Our dishes are used in commercial dishwashers in restaurants and coffee shops and are plenty happy in your home dishwasher. The plates fit great in there, too.

2) Can I put my dishes in the microwave: Yes, absolutely. Our Director of Ops, Zoe Dadian, tried to break a plate in a microwave by cooking a whole, frozen Honeybaked Ham in it for like 45 minutes and couldn't do it. Then she microwaved like 15 servings of frozen bacon to see if that would do the trick.  Still no luck. However, if your pot already has a hairline fracture in it, moisture might get in there and pop it open. So don't microwave cracked pots.

3) I've been using my dishes for a while and I'm noticing some scratch marks. What can I do?...

  1. Choose your scouring powder—either something commercially available like Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend, or make your own by mixing lemon juice and baking soda. 
  2. Find a scrubber—we found that the harsher side of an ordinary sponge worked fine, but this scrubber was a little extra abrasive, so we didn’t have to work as hard. 
  3. Spread the powder or paste to your pot and scrub for about a minute or two.
  4. Rinse the pot. Make sure you clean with soapy water before eating on its surface. Voila! It's that simple.
DIY Brass Polish
We love brass. If you haven’t scrolled through the tabletop collection on our site recently, please give it a look and ogle the brass beauties.

But we often get a lot of confused and saddened emails lamenting bright and shiny brass pieces that start looking splotchy and awkward upon use. Your brass will patina. It's supposed to. Once it goes through an awkward teenage phase of being splotchy in some places and shiny in others, it'll all even out to a muted, worn brown-gold that I think it just gorgeous. 

If you want to buff it up now and again, though, here's how:

East Fork plates in the sink.

First, the most important thing to note is that brass should never go into the dishwasher. Ever. It'll start pitting, which means getting little holes all over the surface. No good!

You can buff your brass shiny in one of two ways:

  • Option 1: create a paste with baking soda and lemon juice. Use a soft cloth and run the past in circles on your brass until it's all shined up.
  • Option 2: same thing, but with Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser or other brass polish found at your hardware store. 

    Questions about caring for your pot, cutlery, or other kitchen tools found on East Fork? Comment below!

    Comments (3)

    • Jessie

      Any suggestions for hairline cracks? Looking online, there is a variety of options—food-safe silicone sealant, cement glue for china, or something else? Thank you!!

    • Mary Robson

      Your team rises so effectively from your blog -
      My personal experience includes 9 years of managing and being the sales force for
      a pottery in Seattle —mixture of hand and Ram press processes, being in the world
      during a pre-computer time. We sold to Crate and Barrel (memorable people)
      and many now-extinct department stores and small jewelry stores. Our biggest adventure, perhaps, was being copied by the big Japanese
      company, Mikasa. Then they hired our designer! We had started at Penland where
      our designer was a Resident Craftsman. I cherish my North Carolina memories and
      my son born in Spruce Pine (near Celo)

      I am writing because when I found your site I was cast back 45 years ago and kept
      saying ‘yes, yes that is the way to do it.’ The warmth of what you send out infuses
      the ware. I’m so gratified to see your work - and know that profit margins are
      far more fragile than the work. Warmly, Mary Robson Port TOwnsend, Washington (OLympic Peninsula

    • Molly

      Thanks for the how-to! I was just noticing some little scratches on my beloved soapstone bowls. Will try out the lemon/baking soda method today!

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