FREE set of Calamityware Coasters with orders of $75 or more

FREE set of Calamityware Coasters with orders of $75 or more

RULES

Shipping

It’s the weight and dimensions. Porcelain is heavy, so it is shockingly expensive to ship. But for a treasured heirloom that may last generations, perhaps you can justify the expense.

Most of the other products are lighter and ship at a reasonable price. You will usually find that you have shipping choices when you order, so you can pick the shipping method that suits you best. We even offer free shipping for U.S. orders over $200.

It's super complicated. We wrote a blog about this mess. You can read about it here. If you really can't live without Calamityware, there are forwarding services like ForwardMe or MyUs.com that will ship our products anywhere in the world.

Maybe it's time to move? We haven’t been able to find any practical way to make the costs of Canadian shipping disappear. It is costly to ship heavy objects long distances and over borders.

If your order qualifies for free shipping, we will ship your order using the shipping service of our choice through FedEx, DHL, or USPS, whichever is most economical.

If your order doesn't qualify for free shipping, or you want to choose how your order is shipped, you will usually be able to choose between FedEx, DHL, or USPS, based on what's available in your area.

Be aware that if you select one of our DHL options, DHL will hand your package off to the USPS for final mile delivery. So if USPS can't deliver to your house, our DHL options won't work for you.

For Canada orders, you will also be able to choose a duty-paid option.

If you are shipping to Canada, be aware that packages shipped through any service other than the postal service may also incur a brokerage fee.

Although we are based in Pittsburgh, all of our orders ship from our fulfillment partners in New Jersey.

Good question. No, we do not. If our fulfillment center is on holiday, or the carrier is on holiday, then your order will be delayed either in shipping or delivery. Please see our annual list of holidays that affect shipping and delivery times.

In addition, be aware that FedEx will not deliver on Saturdays or Sundays, no matter the shipping method selected.

Unfortunately, no. You will need to create a separate order for each address to which you want to ship.

Yes. Watch your email inbox for a shipping confirmation and tracking number. Don’t just assume the package will show up at your door. Track your package daily to make sure it doesn’t get hung up in the system and returned to us. Shipments have a way of getting stalled, and monitoring the status of the tracking number allows you to reach out to the carrier promptly. If you didn't receive a tracking number, check your Spam or Promotions folder. If you still can't find the tracking information, email robot@calamityware.com.

Yes. Visit here to read the boring stuff.

Customs and their willy-nilly rules

Who knows? We have no way of predicting if they’ll apply to your shipment. Customs inspections are very arbitrary and willy-nilly. Some packages sail through without any duty, but many are selected by chance and the recipient gets hit with a duty fee.

If you are shipping to Canada, be aware that packages shipped through any service other than the postal service may also incur a brokerage fee.

Unfortunately, no. Sometimes, packages slide through with no customs fees applied, so you’d be paying for an expense that never materialized. However, we do offer a shipping method,“Canada Duties Paid”, where you can choose to pay up front for duties.

The platform at our fulfillment warehouse doesn't allow us to mark something as a "gift." Besides, Mom wouldn’t approve of doing this—it is unethical and illegal. Shipments are cleared through customs based on where the package is coming from, the item category, and the value—not its purpose. For centuries, countries have used customs fees to fund government enterprises. So if you're not happy with customs fees, you need to take it up with your government.

We do offer a shipping method,“Canada Duties Paid”, where you can choose to pay up front for duties so your gift recipient doesn't receive a surprise bill.

Trouble with my order

See the note above about tracking numbers. Also, scan the detailed questions below.

Don't panic. We're here to help. Contact us at robot@calamityware.com right away. Send us photos of the damaged item and photos of the packaging it came in, and we will send you a replacement. Be sure to include your order number that is on your packing slip. We can't help you without photos. This policy lasts for 30 days from when you made your purchase.

Flaws are rare, but lumps, bumps, and knitting catastrophes sometimes happen. Email robot@calamityware.com with a photo and description of the issue, and your order number, and we will take care of you. Our replacement window is 90 days.

Go back in time and don't do that again. Instead, accept the delivery, take a photo of the damaged product, and email it (and the order number on your packing slip) to robot@calamityware.com. We also have no use for a broken product, so sending it back just causes us to have to pay more shipping.

Since you probably can't go back in time, when the package arrives back at our fulfillment center, we will email you about shipping a replacement.

Not really. We wish you’d send an email to robot@calamityware.com and explain that you think a shipment is missing. We can help you figure out where it is or send you a replacement if the package has been abducted by aliens.

If the tracking number says it was delivered, it was delivered...somewhere. Often, your kind neighbor accepted the package while you weren't home, and has completely forgotten to tell you. They probably have it. Send out a search party and scour the neighborhood. Also, check your order confirmation. Did you enter your address correctly?

If no one seems to have your package, and you're certain you entered your address correctly, email us at robot@calamityware.com right away so we can help solve the mystery.

Please contact us immediately at robot@calamityware.com and provide us with the correct address. If you tell us pronto, we might be able to fix the error before the package ships. If your order has already shipped, we are sorry, but we will not be able to change it for you. But on some occasions, you may be able to re-route the package via the carrier's website.

If you provide an incorrect address and your package is returned to us, and you paid for shipping, we will refund your order for the cost of the product. You can then reorder to the correct address. If your package is re-routed during shipping due to an incorrect address and the shipper applies a fee, you may be responsible for this extra cost.

If you provide an incorrect address and your package is returned to us, and Calamityware paid for shipping, we will refund your order for the cost of the product minus what Calamityware paid to ship it to you.

If you provide an incorrect address and your package doesn’t find its way back to us, we cannot reship or refund your order. You will have to place that order again to the corrected address. In this case, if your order is eventually returned to us in good condition, we will refund you for the cost of the product.

If you articulate your problem in an email and send it to robot@calamityware.com, we can forward your issue off to the appropriate troubleshooter. Also, you could try some basic troubleshooting on your own. Refresh your browser. Clear your cookies. Try to order from a different device.

Color matching through a computer screen is very tricky, especially if you’re particular about what you’re trying to match. In general, monitors and screens all display colors in their own way, and there are so many variables that will make a color look lighter or darker than what you see in person. This fact makes it very hard to convey exact color through a photograph viewed on a computer or mobile device. Unfortunately, we can’t control all of the variables that affect what you see through your computer. If you're unhappy with what you received, email robot@calamityware.com and arrange for a return.

Yes, within 30 days of receipt of purchase. Email robot@calamityware.com. Read our Return Policy for more details, including what happens when you want to return part of a discounted bundle. This also means that, in addition to telling us you'd like to return your order within 30 days of receipt, you must also ship the item back within that 30-day window.

To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it. For apparel and textiles, it must also be unwashed. The return must be in the original packaging with all original marketing materials.

Special requests

If we are running a promotion, there will be a discount code at the top of the home page. You can also sign up for our email newsletter to be alerted when new promotions become available. There are websites out there that claim to have Calamityware discount codes, but the codes they offer aren't legit. Don't fall victim to their scheme. 

For bargain-obsessed shoppers, click here for our Sale and Gift Bundles page to find opportunities to save. Sometimes, we have a promotion where you will receive a free gift or free shipping with your purchase of a certain amount.

We wish that was practical, but it isn’t. Our fulfillment partner (Fulfillrite) is fast and accurate, but our colleagues don’t have the skills to gift wrap to the high-quality standards you would want and add a gracious bow. So, for now, you’ll have to do your own wrapping. Sorry.

You’re safe. Nothing in or on the box is going to reveal the cost. So you are free to exaggerate the expense if you think that will impress your friends. EXCEPTION: International orders will have a customs declaration attached to the box, which will list a customs value that will be similar to what you paid for the product.

Yes, you can add a message to your order, up to 400-characters, that will appear on an insert in the package. You can add this when you're on the Shopping Cart page.

Not yet. We are a small team and our current assignments keep us very busy. Adding a wholesale arm to Calamityware isn't something we are ready to tackle.

Per our terms of service, all products sold by Calamityware are for personal or household use only, and are not to be used for resale or commercial use without our prior written consent.

About gift cards

Yes. We have two kinds of gift cards. Please note that none of our gift cards are refundable.

We have a Physical Gift Card(mailed with a snazzy card and classic envelope to you or the recipient).

We also sell a Digital Gift Card (an email that you will forward to the recipient). Digital is the best option if you need it quickly. To purchase a Digital Gift Card, email robot@calamityware.com.

About porcelain

Most of the Calamityware pieces are porcelain, except for canisters and cookie jars, which are stoneware. Porcelain and stoneware are almost the same material, both made from clay, fired at extremely high temperatures, fully vitrified, and water tight. Stoneware is a heavier material, and more opaque. More important, in the kiln, stoneware doesn’t shrink as much as porcelain so it’s a good choice for square shapes and shapes with tight-fitting lids. Like our porcelain, the cookie jar and canisters are food safe and dishwasher safe and contain no dangerous levels of lead or cadmium in the glazes. The workshop that makes the cookie jars and canisters is highly regarded and supplies high-end retailers like Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Don made a simple visual explanation of the plate production process. You can see and download the pdf here

Caring for porcelain is easy. How much pampering you give your porcelain should depend on how long you want it to last. Don wrote a blog post that offers practical advice about living with porcelain. Read it and follow the advice if you want to keep your porcelain pristine.

It started when Muslim traders introduced cobalt glazes into China, and Chinese potters started producing plates with blue, hand-painted scenes. When Europe started trading with China, this blue and white porcelain added ballast to ships filled with silk and tea. It was a hit with Europe’s elite and eventually almost everyone.

By the mid-1700s Europeans finally figured out how to make porcelain to challenge the Chinese product. Perfecting the technique of transferring images printed in glazes onto blank porcelain became an Industrial Revolution success story. By 1800, there were more than 200 potters making willow-pattern wares in England. Potters in Ireland, Scotland, Holland, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Japan, and the United States jumped into blue-willow production too.

While designs varied, the favorites included a vaguely Asian scene with many of the same elements showing up again and again—pagoda, bridge, boat, willow tree, fence, doves, and exotic shrubbery. Usually in blue and white. 

While for 250 years the popularity of blue-willow has gone up and down, it has never gone away. Any design theme that ubiquitous is bound to be revisited over and over. Don's Calamityware designs are another homage to a robust classic.

Early on, Calamityware plates were produced using the on-glaze technique which means that the blue image sits on top and is permanently fused to the clear glaze of the plate. Those plates are now rare collectibles that are no longer available. Since early 2016, all the Calamityware porcelain items are produced using the in-glaze technique. That means that the items are fired at a much higher temperature to allow the blue image to melt slightly into the surface of the clear glaze. This is the look of the classic porcelain items you see in museums.

Most of the Calamityware porcelain is produced at award-winning workshops in Poland, including Kristoff and Cmielow. They’ve been refining their techniques for more than 150 years. Cmielow is one of Europe’s largest porcelain producers and ships to customers all over the world. They embody a perfect mix of old-world craftsmanship and modern technology, including new state-of-the-art isostatic presses that moosh clay into molds with impressive consistency. 

Some items are made in the Czech Republic, Thailand, and China at workshops that are specialists at shapes that are unavailable from Kristoff or Cmielow. These other workshops also meet our high standards for quality, craftsmanship, and consistency. This is the good stuff.

Check the product page to find out where each item was made.

No. The designs of the plate borders and central image of each Calamityware plate are different. If you appreciate the notion of “eclectic,” you’ll be delighted. But if you are a perfectionist about matching, you should order multiples of your favorite Calamityware plate all at one time so all your guests have the same design.

The color may also vary slightly. That's because the items are made in different workshops or at different times using vitreous glazes that vary because of temperature, time, and humidity. We like this naturally occurring feature that makes every piece unique.

The blue will likely not match your recollection of your grandmother's Blue-Willow plates, either. That's because Grandma's plates could have been made by any number of Blue-Willow porcelain makers over the last 400 years. But it all looks good under meatloaf.

No. These plates are just minerals—feldspar, kaolin, quartz. Combined in the right amounts and fired at high temperature, they turn into a sturdy, white porcelain. Did we mention this is the good stuff?

No. These glazes are specially formulated to be free of cadmium, lead, and other potential troublemakers. The workshops that make stuff for us use lead-free clay and glazes, their pigments are lead free, and everything is fired at very high in-glaze temperatures as an extra precaution.

Doubtful. But lead is a naturally occurring mineral so some low levels could show up if you blast your plate with a X-ray fluorescence gadget. It would depend upon the calibration and sensitivity of your gun. Industry standards consider lead free to be less than 100 parts per million which is a level so small that it’s difficult to detect. We meet these levels. But if you are a fanatic and want zero parts per million, you might be disappointed. That’s because lead and cadmium are everywhere on our planet and trace contamination from air and water is inescapable.

Hanging Calamityware is an excellent way to enhance your domicile. Don uses invisible plate hangers that glue to the back of the plate and can be removed later by soaking. These big yellow stickers are completely invisible behind the plate. He uses the 100mm size. You could probably build your own with duct tape if you prefer DIY.

About the team

Here at world headquarters, there’s just Don, Lynnette, Jack, Brandy, April, Sam, Vanessa and Nina. We each have different roles. Basically, Don takes naps and adds to his sketchbooks each day. Lynnette and Jack do all the hard work that Don prefers to avoid. Brandy helps new ideas become new products. April folds and stuffs things that need to be folded and stuffed. Sam and Vanessa make sure that you hear about new products when we make them, A.K.A. marketing. And Nina helps answer all your questions and requests.

Don, Lynnette, Jack, and Brandy had the good fortune to work together for many years at the communications planning and design firm, ThoughtForm Inc. They are vastly more technically savvy than Don, so they fix it when the acrimonium isn’t syncing with the foggywebnet. April, Sam, Vanessa and Nina were all brought on a couple years later to help with the growing to-do list that comes with running a small business.

Incidentally, Lynnette and Jack are married. When we meet at their house, Lynnette makes the cookies and Jack makes the coffee. The rest of the team shows up empty handed and mooches off their hospitality.

Don is supposed to design new products and write and illustrate blogs. Without the help he gets from the team, there would be no Calamityware…zip. He would have given up the whole effort long ago. You'll find a mini-biography of Don here.

Lynnette takes care of accounting, taxes, insurance, inventory, importing, vendor management, and a vast amount of tedious paperwork. Lynnette also attends to some customer service issues. Basically, she's the boss.

Jack makes sure the online store works so orders go out fast. Jack’s a writer and designer who makes charming marketing materials, emails, packages, inserts, and videos. He also finds manufacturers, prepares production files, and coordinates suppliers, and helps Nina and Brandy with customer service issues. So busy!

Brandy heads up product development, and makes sure that the process runs smoothly from the time Don sketches a new design, through that product hitting our website. This can include anything from facilitating new product discussions, to finding someone to manufacture the product for us. She also may respond to a customer service issue or two when she has time.

Nina brings a special flair to handling customer service conundrums, which includes figuring out how to accommodate the odd requests we get and how to solve the peculiar problems that materialize. It is amazing how many things can go wrong each week. She copes with each exasperating puzzle with an astonishing level of patience and empathy. 

April is a hard worker, meticulous, neat, organized, and a great quality control checker for the products she prepares for selling.

Sam and Vanessa ensure that the public are informed about Calamityware, our products, and any other nonsense we are getting up to. They help decide what pictures and videos you see, what emails are sent, what promotions to run, and anything else related to marketing.

Because there are just eight of us, we don't have an office, so we don't really have office hours. But in order to maintain a good work-life balance, if you email us after 5 p.m. E.T. Monday through Friday, or anytime Saturday or Sunday, you may not hear from us until the next  business day. But it's likely you'll hear from us sooner.

Hey, Don

I use Kickstarter to find support for my designs. It is a perfect tool because it allows me to describe an idea and rally support without making a big up-front investment. If I can’t get enough support for an idea to justify a production run, the project crashes and no one owes anyone anything. 

If you want to do a crowdfunding project, I urge you to...

1. Study and support some projects to understand how they are managed. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like about your experience.

2. Study all the support materials available on the platform you choose. Kickstarter has a lot of great resources.

3. Don’t expect your project to succeed. About half of them don’t hit their funding goals. You can always refine your idea and try again.

4. Crowd-funding is not a charity. Remember, sponsors expect to get rewards for backing you. Big, juicy rewards are best. I think sponsors prefer something rare, new, or unusual. If your project could be the basis for a lunch-table conversation with peers, you’re probably on the right track.

5. Set your goal as low as you can. But be careful. Prepare a detailed budget and make allowances for all the expenses you are going to have. There's no opportunity to ask for more funds once the projects starts.

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. It was a signifiant part of my professional life as a graphic designer. But I started to get serious about drawing each day in 2008—at the start of the great recession. I needed a mental health activity to stabilize me as the economy tanked. 

I often draw faces, letters, old cars, creatures, objects, and patterns. I love to visit an art museum and draw the objects that I see. A good museum always has some delightful artifacts in a dry, warm, quiet space with decent food nearby. Maybe that’s what heaven will be like?

The drawings I like best make me laugh. I’m still exploring what makes a drawing funny. For me it is still hard work, but gratifying when I succeed. 

No. I’m an old guy and my time is running out. So I need to focus on completing my own bucket list of projects before I’m evicted from the apartment house of life by the burly landlord of fate. 

What curious mind wouldn’t be interested? People often send me emails with their ideas and I enjoy hearing about them. But my bucket list is already dangerously long. So, there’s not much chance I can do anything with your idea for a calamity plate based on your ex or a wading pool that looks like a giant chili bowl. There‘s just not enough time for all the world’s good ideas.

No. For 40 years I had a job designing things for clients. I enjoyed some amazingly productive collaborative experiences with a lot of brilliant people. That was enough. 

Maybe your bowling team can find a shirt they like here in the store. Good luck. I hope you make it to the league finals.

Don posts a new drawing of something almost every day on Flickr.  You can also see some of my drawings on Instagram

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