5 Tips for Keeping Your Studio Clean and Healthy

Plastic bags, slab-roller canvas, throwing tools, throwing bats, and clothing—these all catch a lot of dust.

Studio Clean and Healthy

Like many potters, I have a basement studio. Unlike in my dream studio, which would have sweeping views of a rolling countryside, my current vista includes the washer and dryer. I try my best to keep my studio clean and minimize dust as much as possible, but Dan Ingersoll’s article in the Pottery Making Illustrated archive, opened my eyes to ways I could be doing a better job.

In today’s post, an excerpt from the aforementioned article, Dan shares five great ideas for keeping the dust under control in your studio. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

P.S. To see Dan’s tips for keeping the floor, sink, and air clean, read the rest of his article in the January/February 2021 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated!

Five Dirty Tricksters

Plastic bags, slab-roller canvas, throwing tools, throwing bats, and clothing—these all catch a lot of dust. Just picking up a piece of plastic with dried clay on it sends a cloud of dust into the air and scraps to the floor. I place all used plastic immediately in a covered 20-gallon plastic pail. If I need to reuse this plastic, I take the bucket outside and clean the plastic off in the open air.

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Slab-roller canvases left to dry and then later handled are a real dust storm. After each use, I spray them down outside with a garden hose and leave them to dry on a clothes line.

1 Aluminum baker’s cart with casters.

2 Track-and-brace shelving system. Kiln furniture placed at a height to reduce bending.

When I throw, I place an 18-inch square piece of ½-inch upholstery foam on the wedging table next to the wheel. During use, all tools are placed on the foam. At the end of a work session, the tools are rolled up in the foam and moved to the sink for cleaning. The foam is washed with water and wrung out to dry.

I used to pile loosely cleaned bats on a shelf near my wheel. Moving them around generated scraps and dust. To remedy this, I built a simple rack to use as a dedicated home for the bats, which encourages me to do a better job cleaning them and helps with general studio organization.

Finally, if you wear dirty clay clothes and shoes into your living space, all of your other work is for naught as they will contain and spread clay dust and scraps. Wear a dedicated set of studio clothes and shoes and be able to change in and out of them before you move from one space to the next.

3 Table with wedging board, exhaust, and air-exchange fan. Industrial vacuum and anti-fatigue mat. Wheel with leg extensions.

4 Tools hung or stored in 1-liter measuring cups and drying rack.


 Dan Ingersoll taught for 35 years as a public school art teacher, 17 of them teaching high school ceramics, and continues to pursue his passion for clay and sculpture in his retirement.

  • Suzanne P.

    I spend a few meditative moments taking pleasure in cleaning my studio before and after each session. I cannot work/throw in a messy studio. It interferes with my ability to concentrate. But that is me, somewhat fanatic about this. I wet down as I go, keeping a wet rag to wipe my hands. I dust the shelves with a dedicated Swiffer or a wet rag, and I keep an ordinary vacuum cleaner with a hepa attachment to clean up the floor occasionally after wet mopping/wiping daily. My studio is able to support a lot of plants and books. I look at the plant leaves to see what dust has collected if any. I wear an N95 mask, thankfully had a supply, when sanding or scraping. Mostly water is a best friend collected it in buckets allowing the clay or glaze to sink and then pour off the top, reusing both the solids and the water. When there is a lot of humidity, I use dehumidifier water both for the clay/glazes and the plants. Thankfully I can open up in the warmer weather. That said, I am not a production potter, fortunately not in a hurry. Protect your lungs!

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