The Mysterious “Pinging” Vase

Friday August 20, 2010

Cobalt Mystery Vase - Potteries of California

OK, so I’ve got sort of a double mystery here. I picked up this beautiful dark cobalt blue vase the other day that I thought was perhaps Pacific, Bauer, Garden City Pottery or Gladding McBean. So far, I haven’t been able to conclusively identify it. That’s the first part of the mystery…

The vase is an extremely dark cobalt - much darker than the usual blue glaze we’ve seen on most California pottery. I initially though it was Pacific due to the shape and color, but again, I don’t have the book on hand. It’s also similar to some of the Bauer items, but I can’t seem to find the exact shape. It also has a glazed bottom, without the ring carved out that you’d expect with Fred Johnson items. It seems to be cast as well, though I’m not 100% certain.

Cobalt Mystery Vase - Potteries of California

Here’s the other part of the mystery: This vase had some light crazing. After I washed it up (using only mild soap and water) I was surprised to hear a sort of “pinging” noise occasionally while it was drying. I figured this was due to the water drying and affecting the existing crazing on the vase. However, it has continued to “ping” occasionally - and it’s been 2 days! It’s like it’s talking to us, trying to tell us something.

I know a decent amount about California pottery, but I’m not very knowledgeable about the properties of glazing and how crazing affects a piece of pottery. I was hoping there might be some pottery or ceramics experts out there who could tell me why a vintage vase would continue to make these high pitched noises long after being washed. I’m fairly certain this is an older vase and from California (based on the glaze quality, shape and color), but so far, it’s identity has eluded me.

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3 Responses to “The Mysterious “Pinging” Vase”

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  1. Steph Says:

    Both clay and glazes expand when heated and shrink when cooled. If the glaze shrinks more than the clay, it’s too small to fit and the strain is relieved by cracking the glaze/crazing. The clay in the blue vase was probably porous (earthenware?), so it absorbed water in the washing and slightly expanded, leading to (even more) crazing. And because the water is inside the clay, it’s taking a while to dry.

  2. Steph Says:

    In case I wasn’t clear, the pinging is the glaze cracking.

  3. Bryan Says:

    Thanks Steph - I suspected it was something like that. I’ve noticed porous clay flowerpots taking ages to dry because of water absorption, so I thought that might be the case here too. I did check to see if there was more crazing, but it looked about the same. But in any case, I guess I’m not going to be washing it any more! =)

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