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safe substitute for anything & immortality.

updated mon 9 may 05


jesse hull on sun 8 may 05

I am a little confused by all these comments on
Manganese, silica dust, etc. So they present dangers,
you ask? I can give you a definitive response:
It seems almost as if there is a "danger of the month"
hysteria going on in forums, periodicals, etc. Lead,
Zinc, Silica, Manganese, ...Barium perhaps gets the
biggest red flag throughout my recent readings. I
recall how peeved David Pier was upon discovering that
Ceramics Monthly put a "skull & crossbones" marker on
his "barium tainted" Lanthanide glazes. David is one
of the few ceramists I know who actually tests his
fired glazes randomly for leeching. CM must post the
warning as a legal concern, I understand. But to some
readers, David may as well have asked for an E-boli
sample to be included in the base recipe.
C'mon now, -remember back in school, or in whatever
book you learned how to mix glazes from? They didn't
refer to it as glaze CHEMISTRY simply to give it an
air of prestige.
These are, in no uncertain terms, chemicals that we
are working with, and what you don't know will hurt
Case in point: I'm conversing with a person once on
the dangers of these "materials" that we consistently
use and the corresponding need for basic concern. He
was doing Raku, and dipping his arm down into a bucket
of copper matte -and had been for several days. It
was the standard glaze: 90% copper carbonate and 10%
frit. He retorted, "It's not like I'm really a
chemist or anything, I'm not worried about it... "
Now folks -there are times when I wish that the Earth
would indeed open up and swallow such obvious flaws in
our gene pool. I mean, we're approaching
overpopulation as it is, right?
But then, wouldn't it be nice if we were just immune
to the toxic effects of all this stuff, simply because
we hadn't been officially indoctrinated into the world
of science? I suppose this man also holds the power
to avoid any danger, he need only close his eyes
really tight and chant "I'm invisible, I'm invisible,
I'm invis-...".
Recently an intern at Red Star Studios, KC, had helped
fire a wood kiln, and also to clean it out... w/o
wearing a mask. He described how he coughed for a
week and a half, and felt, "very, very stupid". I'll
attest that he's a sharp kid, and I'll add that he'll
no doubt wear a mask the next time. You live and you
learn, even if you shave a bit of time off your life
in the process. But there is a better way...
My teacher's teacher, Warren McKenzie, now has
silicosis. We've all heard it. What I can say is
that we experience a bit of immortality only in our
ability to learn from the mistakes of our forbearers,
take measures, and pass it on to the next generation.

He's a precious man, and it certainly hit home with
I've since designed a simple setup where a screened
vent is built into my glaze mixing area, thereby
sucking all the dust downward and out of the studio.
It uses floor vent parts and fan found in any Home
Depot...Price: $60. But I'd already been using the
basics. A 1000count box of disposable rubber
gloves...Price:$8. OSHA certified mask and
goggles...$40. ShopVac w/ HEPA filter: $70. Here
I've spent a bit more once than I do on my health
insurance every month, in hopes that I won't need it
anytime soon.
Our health is indeed priceless. And my solution
simple: We can run around avoiding/substituting for
the materials of our trade, or instead, use simple
safety supplies and common sense.
Because really guys, -none of us are invisible (wait,
I mean invincible...).