A pot can be seconded for a number of reasons from a small fingerprint in the glaze to a huge iron blowout. We currently have six categories by which we define our standards—what can either pass through QC and out into the world or what gets pulled and sold at a discounted rate during our Seconds Sales.
These categories are Material, Forming, Trimming, Glazing, Firing, and Handling. So, for example, "misplaced glaze" (i.e. a splotch of glaze that mistakenly ends up on the unglazed bottom of our Mug) is a second-quality flaw that is categorized under Glazing. A pot becoming a second can happen at any point during its lifetime in our factory—starting as soon as the clay is processed to make the pot, through all the hands it touches, and even as it's sanded after it comes out of the kiln.
The most important thing to note is that the seconds we put out into the world are still totally functional and are safe to bring into your home.
Most common flaws that you might see on Seconds:
Bloating occurs during firing and causes a little bubble of clay to emerge from the pot. Most small bloats are passable based on size, placement, and texture. We do have standards around what kind of bloats would be considered a "third", so you don't have to worry about getting any that are sharp, cracked, or massive.
Let me start by saying we LOVE iron flecks! They are a staple of our pottery and, in my opinion, the more the merrier. That being said, we understand the need to reign it in sometimes and we want our customers to know what to expect when they purchase East Fork pots. We have a handful of guidelines surrounding iron burnout including size, type, and frequency that will occasionally result in an iron-based second.
While we actually find certain glaze movements to be extremely beautiful and unique, we do have some standards on what would be "too far" for glaze streaking. Severe streaking would present itself in a spider-web-y appearance or sometimes in the category of "water marks" where a glaze wipe is too water heavy and creates a shine on the glaze.
Scuffs, Dents, & Markings
Most of the time this will happen when forming greenware in our factory—the raw clay piece before it is fired. This can include fingernail marks, scuffing that results in clay variation, little dings in the clay, trimming scratches, etc.
Mug Handle Crack
Most cracks will render a pot as a "third", with one exception! As most know by now, our Mug handle design has gone through a few different iterations and forming methods over the years. What has remained the same is the angle at which the handle is attached—sometimes the attachment doesn't fully take and in those cases we see slight cracking where the mug body and handle meet. As long as the crack does not extend all the way around the attachment, we feel that it is safe for use as a second!
Standards regarding pinholes deal in five categories for consideration: size, type, frequency, depth, and location. Most commonly, pinholes that are larger than what we deem to be appropriate will be seconded as well as any pinholes that are sharp to the touch.