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Newbie Concerned With Home Studio Safety/dust

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Hello,

 

I am new to ceramics this year and would like some advice on home studio safety. I have taken several classes and have now purchased a wheel to throw at home. I am very concerned with safety. My options for a studio at home are a sun porch or the basement. The sun porch can be closed from the rest of the house for the most part, but is usually walked through to get to the back yard and patio in the warmer weather. It has great light and would be pleasant to work in, but can be cold (lowest 55 degrees to keep pipes unfrozen) or hot depending on time of year. The basement is unfinished and has dimmer light, but is more even in temperature. My husband has offered that he could build some walls to make a small room in the basement if I feel that is safer. What are thoughts on which might be a better home studio with safety being my number one priority? I am very concerned with dust inhalation, and plan to keep things very clean. I have teenagers in the house. I want to keep them safe. How concerned to I need to be about dust travelling even if I am very diligent with wet cleaning?

 

I love to work with clay and really enjoy the process, but the safety concerns are dampening the joy I have found in clay just a little. I want to set things up so that I can feel joyful in having the chance to work with clay often and at home. Thank you in advance for your sage advice. I have already used these boards to gather so much valuable information!!

 

R

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You are right to be concerned, but it is not hard to follow basic rules that will keep your air clean in either place.

Wet washing all work surfaces and floors keeps down dust. Change towels and clothes. Buy a good HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner.

If someone in your home is allergic or has lung issues, buy an air purifier that is rated to clean out clay dust. Do any sanding outside and wear your mask.

Take care of your drains with a system of clay slurry collection.

You have probably done this already but search "studio safety" on the main forum page and you will find a ton of discussions, tips and rules.

Enjoy !

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damp mops, damp rags, are your friend,  i prefer not to vacuum studio, if i work in hone studio i change air filter 2x a month,   i also try and seal of that room rags at door bottom.   if built a dedicated room id consider  an exhaust system.   i keep chems in oustide storage and mix glazes and clays outside.   at group studio i open clay bags in sink area.   i clean mops and rags sponges outside....  

 

a good indicator if you doing a good job  is    check you  home air filter if you have

 

if you are vigilant with wet/damp cleaning, and dust handling,  i wouldn't  be to concerned.   

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I would go for the room in the basement, if you have room to expand down there. You can add lighting and having a room that you will actually use because it’s comfortable temperature wise makes more sense to me. Clay equipment, supplies, drying racks etc can eat up lots of space as you go along. Also thinking down the road a bit if you get a kiln you will need to have that vented to the outdoors so that might be a consideration where you work, plus the distance to the electrical. If you have a laundry sink in the basement or can plumb one in that makes things easier too.

 

I’m with Lou on damp mopping, rags, sponges etc. For big trimming messes I dip a short bristled broom in a water bucket and sweep up the big stuff before mopping, clay is still kinda damp so not too much dust. I like the mops with the removable pads that you can throw in the wash, rags and the big car washing sponges for cleaning.

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I have a basement studio myself, and even though it's a cold basement that is sometimes dark, I'd take it over the sunroom. The temperature fluctuations will indeed make drying times "interesting," but the big thing will be the number of people tracking in and out of the area. I am the only person going into my studio. I have a pair of shoes that I wear at all times that get left at the door religiously, even for a quick trip to the bathroom sink across the hall. Dust does not enter the rest of my home on my feet this way. I can successfully police myself, but it would be a nightmare of unsuccessful nagging to get anyone else to do it in quite the same way.

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My house and studio is one large dust bowl. I didn't realize how much dust was in the air until I turned off the lights and looked at all the particles in the beam of the flashlight. Its much worse if one or both dogs get up, stretch, then shakes. I got rid of the dust by sleeping with the lights on!

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Will offer a bit of advice that is overlooked when discussing in home studio safety.  You have a basement, so I will assume the furnace is also nearby. Two things will help restore your joyful experiences: 1. Install a bypass wall ventilation fan. They make models to fit inside your old basement windows. Turn it on to circulate air, and to Evac dust when you clean. 2. -more important than #1. 3M makes a particulate air filters for your furnace. They filter down to 1 micron (pollen is 3 microns).. They come in standard filter sizes and should be changed every three months. Any dust that escapes the dreaded damp mop will be caught in the filter, and not circulated into other parts of your home.  Available at Lowes, Home Depot, and a few other hardware stores. http://www.filtrete.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/FiltreteNA/Filtrete/Products/?N=7568680+4315+3294529207&rt=r3&WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=FILTRT_Exact_3m_air_filters&gclid=CKiD-vb8tMsCFdcYgQodhykFCA

Nerd

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whatever else you do, do NOT use canvas as a work surface.  it retains dust and every time you touch it you are sending particles into the air.  if you are setting up a wedging table, consider a concrete paver.  they come in several sizes and can be kept pretty clean.

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Thank you for all the information!

 

It seems like the basement with a closed area is my best option. It will be small, and really no room to expand, but I think I could manage. I had the same plan about leaving shoes at the door. I will not be using any canvas. I had purchased some hardibacker board for wedging and reclaiming.

 

We have baseboard heat, so the air filters would only apply to the central AC, I believe. It looks like from some other posts that they do not filter particles small enough to help with silica? Also, I will have the basement window, but I am confused about the use of that window and/or a fan to help the situation.  When is it good to exchange the air and when does it stir up more dust?

 

Thank you!

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I also have a basement studio.  It stays a fairly constant temperature throughout the year.  In the Summer it's cool.  In the Winter it is also cool...

 

I mop fairly regularly, or sponge off my work surface.  I do use canvas, when rolling out slabs.  It gets taken outside for a good shaking, after use.

 

I don't have the option for a filter in my heating and cooling system, as we have radiator heat.  Of course, that also means, that no air is being pulled out of my studio space, and blown around the rest of the house either.

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I can't add anything helpful as I'm still at the early stages myself. But I'm a tad confused by the canvas advice. I roll out slabs on canvas (as I was taught to do) and give them a good shake outside after use. (Mother nature is generous with the fresh air supply round here). Overall, do you advocate using what we call hardboard here, or am I alright with canvas and care?

 

Girts

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if you are picking up the canvas and walking to the outdoors with it, what is falling off of it on the way?   try your usual shaking outdoors and then take the canvas in and use it the normal way to wedge or roll out a slab or whatever.  right then, try the test outlined above.  turn out the lights and use a flashlight to see the tiny particles.  the ones that do the damage are too small to see, you are only seeing their big brothers and sisters in your beam of light. :(  

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I have home studio in the basement as well

 

About the canvas, when I use mine for rolling I put it in a bucket with water, bring it up and outside for a scrubbing, leave it to dry then shake shake fold and bring it down stairs. I do the same with all my towels and cloth's and sponges. Pre washing your things before putting them in the washing machine is a good idea for your houses pipes.

 

I have canvas on my wedge table I sponge it before and after each use

 

Also, I damp sponge or spray my wheel, counter tops and wipe the floors before and clean thoroughly after each studio time. I didn't used to do the before wipe down but I noticed a film that had dried from previous use and worried about dust. It's kind of a pain but worth the extra time.

 

Nothing more to add to all the other great advice. Unless you want to talk kiln and glaze safety?

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From the locations you mentioned, I would personally stick with the sun room for a studio space.  There is something to be said about being able to simply hose out your studio.  Put everything on casters so you can easily move it aside and hose out, then squeegee and put it all back.  Can't do that in a basement.  Also, you gotta walk all your equipment and clay materials not only down the stairs to the basement, but back up too, no thanks.

 

For clay concerns, just make sure your studio gets cleaned at least weekly if not daily.  A simple sponge wipedown every evening takes less than 5 minutes and you get to walk into a clean studio to work in the morning.

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whatever else you do, do NOT use canvas as a work surface.  it retains dust and every time you touch it you are sending particles into the air.  if you are setting up a wedging table, consider a concrete paver.  they come in several sizes and can be kept pretty clean.

hardie board   or hardie backer basically sheet rock cement........look for the one with smooth surface  see home depot, lowes or the like

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I took the canvas off my tables one day,  when I tossed a ball of clay onto the table and noticed this "puff" of dust come roiling up!  I was faithful and religious about cleaning my canvas.  So, I took it all off and just use big pieces of sheetrock for wedging, etc.which I wipe down.  Or pieces of hardi backer board.    However, I do have canvas on the slab roller.  I hose them off regularly, but would like to find some of the lino blankets that Old Lady (I think it was) mentioned in an earlier thread.  That canvas does seem to hold in a lot of dust.  And yes, I work in a basement.  I have most of my equipment on rollers now, so that makes it easier to mop. 

 

Roberta

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I use canvas for my wedging table. I wet it down each morning before I go to work on it. 

 

I love canvas because when I throw a pot, if I dont like it, I ball it up and wedge it again and throw it right away when I finish with my other lumps. I can do this because I throw with slip, and because the canvas pulls out a little moister as I wedge. Does hardy board do this? Cause I would convert if it did.

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roberta, the brand name on the Printer's Blanket i use is visible in one corner so here is the name of the manufacturer.

 

Bottcher  (with a bar over the letter o)

 

style top 3201

 

size 24 3/4 x 30 3/8

 

guage 077

 

something that looks like Roll  61303 D

 

date 10 26 10

 

if i remember this one correctly, it comes with a metal bar attached and i cut it off with a razor knife.  it was used and had lots of ink on it so i had to remove that and wash the cloth side.  taking it to a self-service car wash and hanging it where you put floor mats allowed me to turn the very high pressure hose on it.  these days it is fairly clean but there are still faded inky fingerprints here and there.

 

if you call local printers who do OFFSET PRINTING you might be able to find some.  check the size since some printers only use small ones the size of copy paper.

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My wedging table has two plaster slabs-they are over 4 inch thick-they are huge and the table has 4x4 legs and is made from heavy wood-I had to move it in 1973 (cast in 1972) when I bought my property.Took a few guys

No canvas just casting plaster-one for white clay one for stoneware(dark clays)

I scrap it with a 6 inch painters spatula.

This table is not for the casual user-I suggest a thinner lighter one.

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A smooth 12x12x2 inch cement patio stepping stone from a home garden center makes an excellent wedging platform. 

 

Cover with canvas if you want to, but not necessary if you pick a smooth one.  Easy to store under the working table when not wedging.  If it gets dirty, wash it with a hose.  One side for red clay other side for white clay. 

 

 

LT

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