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updated thu 29 dec 11 on sun 8 feb 98

Dear everyone at any age,
I find it difficult to understand the refusal of both
neophyte and 'experienced' clayworkers, and others involved in the arts,to
thoroughly research their materials before using them. There ARE dangers
involved in the handling of ALL materials when casually used. Of COURSE
there is a scale of danger,of hazard,just as there is a scale of tolerance
and of concentration of materials.
Historically,and to a great extent world-wide,potters
worked out-of-doors or nearly so in loosely sheltering sheds. In most of
their native clays the silliceous materials were coarsly and naturally
ground through movement and precipitation....not so with modern materials
which are produced NOT for the Artist/potter,but for high volume production
and usually in closed environments. There is a vast difference between
200mesh silica and 100mesh. Very few of the materials we use will not float
in the air rather than fall to the floor,given a reasonable temperature and
humidity. Carbonates being chemically produced have especially fine
It is the concentration of many 'dusts' over time which is
most dangerous. Working on clay as a casual hobby will probably require
decades to affect the clay-worker or the painter,but we are surrounded
with these dusts,both in our homes,schools,offices,factories and on the
highways. The dangers are compounded by the out-gassing of plastics
materials in the tight fuel-saving environments where we demand
"shirt-sleeve" comfort. It may appear to many of you that I am
over-emphasizing these dangers. How else get it through the heads of
teachers,instructors and administrators?
Of course you should take every reasonable precaution but
the real question is,how much RISK are you willing to assume in the pursuit
of your work?
don morrill

mel jacobson on wed 28 dec 11

yes, please listen to lili.

but, and there is a big but.

there are many things the potter can do
by learning....understanding.....getting information.
it is essential. you don't have to hire service personnel
when doing basic tasks in your fact, many
do not have a clue. lots of electricians have never been
confronted with kiln. they too can make mistakes.
gathering the proper information is essential so you
can guide the service people. they need information too.
don't ever assume they `just know`.

it is amazing how many people who would never
touch an electric circuit will mess with gas in a
very cavalier way.

i have seen C clamps on baso valves. blow'd up kiln.
i have seen many odd delivery systems for
gas. and, the un/attended kiln. plus severe over reduction
causing back pressure at the flame ports. bad.
and, of course, the state champion dumb...a college that
lets untrained rookies fire kilns...dumb as bricks. it is an
explosion waiting to happen. lazy teachers...always the case.

i have used high pressure rubber hose
for delivery of propane.
i buy it color coded at a welding supply company.
it works like a charm. it is made for rough duty..strong
as can be.
bright red. and it can be moved or covered.
it all comes apart after the firing. burners are
stored away from the gas tanks.
i have at least three shut offs from tank to burner. ball valves.

all of my tanks (500 gallon) have high quality
regulators...high pressure type. underground copper
to the kilns.

my natural gas kiln has 3/4 inch high pressure hose from
steel black pipe to burner. (i hate those corrugated metal connectors.)
in fact, they may be made illegal in many states this year.

by using high pressure hose, i can move my burners around a bit.
move the heat fractionally to get the heat to move up or down.
and, the best of takes away that blessed noise of metal connection=
mine are silent.
i change out all rubber high pressure hose every four years.
just do.

my book has a very long chapter on kiln safety.
it is the first phase of building a kiln. safety and
the reduction of fear of your kiln. i am sure more
people leave making pots from kiln fear than work fear.

like i tell people, if you are afraid of snakes, become a snake
charmer. i have done that with dogs...own them, train them,
and fear leaves forever. respect never changes, but fear does
not rule.
from: minnetonka, mn
clayart link: