How A Single Splinter Utterly Annihilated This Mug

Illustration for article titled How A Single Splinter Utterly Annihilated This Mug

A splinter led to an impromptu art project, a lesson on the integrity of ceramics, and a ruined mug. I guarantee you’ll want to wreck at least one dish this way.


Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Tor Books and Making Light got one of those nasty splinters that sticks under a nail. Rather than take the rational course and ignore it until it merged with her body, she decided to treat the injury. She started by filling a stoneware mug with hot water, adding salt, and soaking her finger. After the soak she forgot the mug full of salt water, and that was her fatal mistake. When she next saw the mug, about a week later, she describes the effect of the salt:

“Salt water had seeped through cracks in the glaze and into the clay body of the mug. As it dried, the salt was extruded through every crack, in sheets and curls and whiskers. Where the glaze crackling was crosshatched, it formed networks of open-topped boxes.”

Okay, sure, I wouldn’t want to lose my favorite mug that way, but that sounds incredibly cool. We all have a couple of “I (Heart) Toronto” mugs in our cupboards that we got as presents, don’t use, but don’t have the heart to smash. Anyone else want to sacrifice them in the name of art and/or science? All it takes is salt, water, and neglect.

Read about the entire inadvertent experiment and how Teresa is trying to rehabilitate her mug here.



Since when is ignoring a splinter rational? Just wait for the finger to turn green and drop off.

(Coincidentally, I know/have known a few people who periodically spit out bits of shrapnel and I could go off on a bit of a rant about continued growth of limbs in amputees.)