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safety and pottery books

updated sun 30 jun 96


John Baymore on tue 25 jun 96

From: Leslie Ihde
Subject: Re: smoke and mirrors

..........................As a self-taught potter, I only figured out that
kiln fumes could be a problem in later years. It's amazing how few beginning
pottery books
address the safety issue and how few potters seem concerned. Maybe it
just seems impossible to people that such earthy things as pots and clay
and glazes could be toxic................

A number of years ago (more than I care to remember ) I was asked by a
publishing house to do a pre-publication review of a manuscript for a major new
(then) book on ceramics. This book was to be a "bible" in the field........
your standard "Ceramics 101" type 300 page-ish text that has everything from
historical info through all types of forming methods, firing, glazing and so on.
In fact the book has gone on to a number of printings now and has become a
pretty well known basic ceramics text.

Anyway......... in looking at the draft of the book there was almost no material
concerning the health issues of working with ceramics. So I gave the publishing
company the suggestion that a section be included that addressed those issues.
I sent along some resource names that could be contacted by the author for
reliable information (Monona Russo and Michael McCann).

Want to bet if any significant info on that subject was included in that text
when it first hit the bookstores?

There seems to be a "don't ask.....don't tell" attitude in this field when it
comes to this subject. It's a real shame that so many new people only learn
sometime after they have already had some significant exposures.

Leslie is "dead on" when she laments the lack of health information in the
"entry level" books. The publishers are doing a dis-service to the new potters.


John Baymore
River Bend Pottery
Wilton, NH