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 January/February 2021 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.