Frequently asked questions

Is Morris & James Pottery Frost Resistant?

Frost resistance is difficult to define as it involves many factors.  Essentially, a porous pot can be damaged by frost if it absorbs water which then freezes and expands. Morris & James glazed pots are sealed inside with silicone to reduce the tendency to absorb water and make frost damage less likely.  Terracotta (unglazed) pots are not sealed during manufacture but can be sealed easily using an aerosol masonry sealer. When pots are kept outside in heavy frost prone areas it's a sensible precaution to place them where they are shielded from extreme weather. Birdbaths should not be left with water in them during frosts and icy weather. Morris & James has sold many thousands of pots over the past 35+ years, and the number of incidences of frost damage has been minimal.

What is 'Crazing' and what can I do about it?

Crazing is most commonly observed on our premium Hollyberry and Oceans glazes. Crazing on these glazes refers to microscopic glaze cracks which are not normally visible. Under certain conditions of dampness however, with the presence of dust, the cracks will appear as white lines. These can be cleaned off with white vinegar and if necessary, the gentle use of green Scotchbrite. This may need a couple of applications. Please note, please do not use this treatment on any other glaze colours. Contact us for advice.

How do I look after my Terracotta floor tiles?

Morris & James have not made or supplied terracotta floor tiles for over fifteen years, however we're often asked about how to clean and seal them. When we supplied tiles, we recommended boiled linseed oil to seal and beeswax to coat and polish. Nowadays there are a number of products on the market for cleaning, sealing and waxing tiles that were not available then. We recommend contacting your local tile shop to determine the best product for your tiles. Please remember when using a new product, to test on a small and less obvious place before applying.

How do I assemble my bird bath?

Our Bird Baths are designed to have the widest part of the base resting on the ground. We recommend adhering the top of the Bird Bath to the base using a construction adhesive like Unibond ‚ÄúNo More Nails‚ÄĚ available at Bunnings or Mitre 10.

Is Morris & James pottery food safe?

The correct answer is that it depends on the product:

The product for everyday kitchen and table use such as mugs, bowls, dipping bowls, plates, jugs, pie dishes and bakeware do not use glazes containing potentially dangerous metals.Decorated platters or bowls with decoration on inside of bowl often do use glazes containing lead and/or cadmium.

Decoration of serving and table wear has been used as an art form for centuries. We continue this tradition using our unique style and glazes which in some cases do contain lead and cadmium.¬†We can‚Äôt test every piece however we do get our designs tested by ESR for lead and cadmium release. Lead glazes still give the best gloss and cadmium the best red. Designs that do not meet the metal release part of the standard we mark as ‚Äúfor decorative purposes only not for food use‚ÄĚ.¬† When marked in this way the piece should only be used for decorative purposes.

Metal release occurs by the reaction of food acids with the glaze over time. For example lemon juice, vinegars, fruit juice, wines, salad dressings or tomato juice.  As it is difficult to monitor this and people are forgetful I would recommend not serving a wet item in one of our bowIs decorated on inside or decorated platters. If you did then when finished transfer it to another container after serving and do not leave overnight or for a long period. We use our decorative wear for occasional serving. It is fine for serving dry items (bread, cheese) or as a fruit bowl.   

Is Morris & James pottery dishwasher & microwafe safe?

Dishwasher safe

In reality dishwashing is low pressure waterblasting usually with a caustic agent. The question is the rate of damage you can tolerate for what you put in the dishwasher. We recommend that our hand decorated platters and bowls with decoration on inside are hand washed. In practice we put our other pieces in the dishwasher. The bakeware and pie dishes will last a few years if not done too often. Other items will last longer. Check and see the rate of wear.

General bakeware cleaning and care guidelines

We recommend that platters,  bowls, bakeware, pie dishes and other items with a terracotta clay base are left to dry upside down for 12 hours or so before putting away. The base material is porous so any retained moisture can go mouldy.Take care not to thermal shock your product.  Do not take from the refrigerator and place into a hot oven, nor take from a hot oven and place onto a cold surface.Crazing may naturally occur.

Microwave safe

We have not had any experience of our product exploding or self-destructing in a microwave however there are two further potential issues. Firstly additional release of metals at temperature and safety with the piece getting too hot. Our decorated platters and bowls with decoration on the inside should not be used in the microwave. Our other products are okay to use on the microwave however they may become too hot to handle. This may because of retained moisture as they are porous, or the materials either in the glaze or the body are excited (heated) by the microwave radiation.

What is "second grade" and "Run of Kiln" pottery?

We sell "Seconds" and "Run of Kiln" product only at our Matakana Show Room.

Second Grade is product that has some blemish, such as a glaze run, chip, crack or some other fault.  Although it is not first grade, it is suitable to use. Second grade stock may also include New Design Glaze Trials which have been done on second grade terracotta.

Run of Kiln is surplus product and work made by trainees as they learn the craft. It takes a lot of practice to develop skills to the level of our top glazers, hand decorators and potters. 

We don't sell second grade or run of kiln product online, as we cannot guarantee that we will have stock, nor can we accurately describe the finished product.

What is the best way to seal the hole in the base of a pot so that I may use it as a fish pond?

We have found that an epoxy resin works best for this purpose. This may be purchased at most hardware stores including Bunnings and Mitre 10. Silicon Gel can work short term but tends to deteriorate over time.

Can I hang my wall art outside?

Yes, you can. The customer should be aware however that the hangers on the back are not stainless steel and therefore are vulnerable to corrosion over time. We recommend painting the hanger with a primer at the time of installation to protect it and also to check the fixtures periodically.

The other consideration when hanging items outside is wind. Some customers have successfully used Velcro dots or a silicon bead at the bottom edge of the piece to hold it steady.

Can all of your pots be used outside?

Generally speaking, yes, but glazed pots are easier to clean than slip decorated pots.

Please note that we DO NOT recommend planting directly into Slip decorated pots. This includes our ‚ÄúTui‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúMahanga‚ÄĚ ranges. Unfortunately, as the outside of these pots is not completely coated in glaze, staining can occur as lime salts seep through from the potting mix. An alternative to direct planting is to ‚ÄúStage‚ÄĚ these pots, using an internal pot to hold the plant away from the walls of the main pot. Sphagnam Moss or Banana fibre may be used to conceal the top.

Whilst in extremely cold climates pots can crack when left outside in winter, this is a problem that has never been reported to us in New Zealand. That being said it is a sensible precaution to place them where they are sheltered from extreme weather. Bird Baths should not be left with water in them during frosts and icy weather.

What is limescale and how do I remove it?

A combination of hard water and fertiliser in potting mix can leave a harmless but unsightly white residue (lime scale on pots and saucers). We have found that ‚ÄúBarkeepers Friend‚ÄĚ is the most effective at removing this.

Do you freight and how much does it cost?

We can freight most first-grade items.  There are a small number of pieces which we don’t freight as they are too fragile.

At this time we have put a hold on international shipping, due to Covid delays and breakages. We hope to resume this service shortly.

Second grade items may be sent nationally at the customer’s own risk. There is no insurance cover for second grade items.

Cost will depend on the size and weight of the item.