A-Z of Ceramics - W is for Waster
Wasters are the discarded remains of ceramic objects that became damaged or deformed during firing. They provide us with first hand information about production processes. Quite often, the small supports called 'spurs' on which a pot was fired are fused to the glazed surface and sometimes we find a whole stack of dishes, collapsed and fused together. When excavated in their original, workshop context, wasters also help us to link certain wares to specific production centres.
Wasters are rarely recycled by the pottery workshops. Instead, they are often used as hardcore or ballast. Huge quantities of British pottery wasters were employed in the building of streets in New Delhi in the 1920s. Wasters should not be confused with slightly deformed products, which often still find their way to consumers as 'seconds', although such pieces have often misled scholars.