Earlier this year I moved to Seattle, Washington to work as a CAD modeler and jewelry designer. Part of the adjustment of moving and adapting to my new environment has made me really conscious of how my body is physically reacting to things.
In the past I have been fortunate to have access to a garage with concrete floors for the kiln and other messy or flammable accessories outside. While looking for an apartment, I found most floors are covered with carpet. While it would be great to have a contained “studio” and a covered patio for the kiln, I couldn’t say No to a lake in my backyard!
My main concern was to keep the metals and clay separate from my living/sleeping area. I have done metal clay in my bedroom and it really isn’t pleasant or healthy. Any sanding or sawing of dry pieces gets in the air. Even while wearing a mask and running an air filter, the dust lingers before settling. “Wet sanding” metal clay is a useful technique but there is no substitute for going through grits of abrasive for a smooth crisp finish.
At work each jeweler’s bench has a fume/dust collector that the jeweler can turn on as needed. Friends initially recommended the Miele vaccum cleaners to me as it is great for allergies. Brand new the Mieles are fairly expensive. The Miele vaccum cleaner is a closed system with collection bags, all air from the motor passes through a HEPA filter, and it is surprisingly quiet as it is rated for home use. For the purpose a dust collector though, the important part is the canister motor. The canister portion of the vacuum can be bought used or refurbished from Ebay or a local vacuum repair shop. It might even come with a bit more character, like Frankie with his red and green panels! So ugly, so cute. I happen to have the Miele attached to a polishing box at the moment but the nice thing is I can move it around as needed say to clean out the kiln or hook it up to my Jooltol.
For fumes and firing, I am relying on my kitchen vent. I bought a large baking sheet that is larger than my stove top so the kiln can sit under the hood. To protect the carpet in the apartment, I put a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet down under my work table and polishing areas. A similarly messy situation when firing base metal clays is how to minimize the fallout zone of soot while sifting carbon so it doesn’t spread all over the house or rain charcoal dust on your neighbors! That one I’m still figuring out exactly, but I have some ideas.
Do you have any tiny studio tips? Thank you to Jeannette LeBlanc for starting the #60daystudio challenge over on Facebook! For more inspiration, please check out http://cre8tivefire.com/ or look up #60daystuio on Facebook.