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misc: pristine studio, safety, stains, and like that.

updated thu 12 may 05


Lili Krakowski on wed 11 may 05

Contrary to what someone suggested, I do not have a pristine studio.

I work alone, I have strict rules for myself. For one: the personal
hygiene bit of removing work clothes ASAP, never wearing them into my house
(adjacent to the studio) and showering and shampooing instanter when I am
through. I also keep dirt in the studio DOWN. And no guests. Animal or

All bags of stuff are kept in a separate shed, or in garbage cans outdoors.
I do not go near them without a mask.

In the glaze part of the studio I keep small amounts of materials in coffee
cans or similar which get washed down as soon as I am through using them.
When I weigh out glazes the scale sits in a kitty-litter pan (a large
shallow plastic pan) which catches spills and goes into the sink or under
the hose when I have finished. Although I have read contrary opinion I
still I weigh out my glazes with the table covered with damp newspaper,
which goes into a bucket, goes outdoors and ultimately into the burn barrel.
I weigh out glazes on the last workday of the week, so the dust can settle
into into the oiled sawdust. I wash everything down when finished, and
again next

I do not sand or scrape dry clay.

I throw as dry as possible so I do not have splashes of mud all over.
Trimmings are reclaimed instantly into a bucket of water under the wheel.
The slab roller is outdoors so the canvases do not bother me...and they get
washed a lot. I work a lot with slip decoration and there too I am as
careful as I can be, working over trays or pans, with plenty of water around
to wash and rinse. The floor is washed as necessary, though wet or oiled
sawdust does a good job.

The dangers to which we are exposed are cumulative. It is my personal and
uncorroborated opinion that small amounts of bad stuff all the time is more
dangerous than a once in a while "serious" exposure. I think safety lies in
constant vigilance. Being careful. Keeping everything clean. Keeping
oneself clean. Reading everything on safety. And like that.

As to stains. As far as I recall, stains have been available a long time,
particularly to industry. The great advantages of stains are: a
substance" , checked carefully by the manufacturer, adjusted at need as
supplies change. In other words if this year's cobalt or iron is not
identical to last year's--the stain manufacturers can cope far better than
we. Furthermore: one can buy stains in small quantities--while one would
have to buy the components in bigger volumes.

Stains of course are nothing different from what one can concoct oneself.
For instance if your favorite glaze has 1% cobalt, 1/4% rutile, 3% tin why
not mix that up separately and try your very own "stain" in several glaze?/
At the very least you will learn a lot. I think most potters have colorant
combos they use over and over, and have published. Cardew has a green and a
blue., and I think both Leach and Pleydell-Bouverie have a blue. I have
several. I mix the colorants together in a great deal of water, shake like
crazy, let the water evaporate, shaking every day. It makes a thoroughly
good mix. Finally I let it dry completely.

With stains as with one's "own" colorants one must remember that some
colorants are fluxes, others refractory, some do well in zinc or magnesium
containing glazes others do not.

Lili Krakowski

Be of good courage