8 Tips for Staying Safe & Healthy in Your Pottery Studio
While it’s easy to get distracted by the fun of ceramics, remember to keep your safety top of mind. We’ve put together a list of pottery safety rules to keep you safe when working in your studio or ceramic shop.
1. Wipe Down Surfaces
When creating exciting new ceramic projects, it’s important to wipe down all surfaces as you trim, carve, sand or grind your pottery. A large amount of clay dust can occur while you work, covering surfaces and floating particles in the air.
This dust can be slippery if it builds up on the floors, increasing the likelihood of injuries from slips and falls. And breathing in significant amounts of pottery dust over time can cause silicosis. Silicosis is caused by breathing in silica dust which causes inflammation and scarring in your lungs, making it difficult for you to take in oxygen.
Spray and wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth or sponge to trap the dust particles and sweep and mop the floors regularly.
2. Don’t Let Clay Sit Out
If you’re done working in your studio for the day, ensure that all unused clay is put away and sealed to prevent it from drying out. If your clay sits out all night and then is moved or brushed, silica particles will fly through the air and potentially cause the health issues mentioned above.
Store your clay in containers or bags when you’re done cutting it for your pottery projects, and recycle the clay trimmings before they dry out. When you’re done throwing your clay on your pottery wheel, take a wet sponge and clean the wheel. This can also prevent waste and keep dust from building up in your ceramic studio.
3. Clean Your Pottery Tools
Keeping your pottery tools clean will not only help to extend your tools' life but also help keep you safe.
Our DiamondCore® Tools are designed with stainless steel blades to never dull and resist breaking and rusting. However, your pottery tools need to be cared for to keep their longevity and to prevent silica dust from forming from dried clay stuck on your tools.
To clean your pottery tools, submerge them in rubbing alcohol for about 30 seconds to let it soak and loosen the dried clay and excess buildup. Take a cloth and gently remove any debris from your tool. If you don’t want to completely submerge your tools, you can apply rubbing alcohol directly to a cloth to remove the pottery tool buildup. Rinse and repeat this process until your tools are clean. Rinse your tools with water and dry.
4. Vent Your Studio
For the health of you and your pottery studio, use a vent to remove the fumes. You always need to vent your kiln to ensure quality pieces and a safe working environment.
The vent can be mounted with a duct and fitting to one or more of the small holes in the kiln wall or kiln floor. You can learn more about venting your home pottery studio in this article from Ceramic Arts Network Daily.
Venting fumes from your pottery studio is essential to creating a safe studio space while you work. Open windows to keep fumes and dust particles at a low level. Even if you’re working outside, be sure to wear a mask or respirator when you’re handling chemicals or dusty ceramic pieces to protect your health.
5. Prevent Clay Clogged Drains
When you’re cleaning your tools and rinsing your equipment, preventing clay clogged drains is another must to keep your pottery studio safe. While clay clogged pipes don’t have a direct impact on your health, they can cause serious (and expensive) issues, like complete pipe replacement and water backing up into your studio.
Keeping clay from going down the drain is easier said than done. Thankfully, we’ve developed a solution — The CINK Mobile Clay Water Recycling System. The CINK doesn’t need to connect to your plumbing, which means you can rinse your hands and pottery tools without worrying about clogging the pipes with clay. You’ll also conserve water in your studio as The CINK collects clay and recirculates water with no mess for you.
6. Wear a Respirator While Grinding or Sanding
You should always wear a respiratory mask while doing certain tasks in your pottery studio, including cleaning dusty surfaces, mixing glaze, mixing clay, using toxic liquids, measuring powders or grinding or sanding pottery.
Wearing a respirator (and using water during the process) will help prevent you from breathing in the silica powder and toxic fumes from your ceramic projects, helping you to stay healthy and avoid long-lasting damage while you work.
7. Use Protective Eyewear
Weaning protective eyewear is a must when you’re grinding down excess glaze or drilling holes into your ceramic pieces. Dust is flying everywhere, and glaze shards and particles can fly off of the ceramic pieces and can hit your eyes if you aren’t wearing the proper protection.
A face shield is another option for those who struggle with goggles and safety glasses.
8. Wear Proper Footwear
Wearing the right protective clothing can help keep you safe and injury-free while you create.
It’s common sense, but when you’re in the comfort of your home pottery studio, it can sometimes be difficult to remember to wear the necessary protective shoes while you work. And in the warm summer months, we see people opt for flimsy sandals and flip-flops.
Close-toed shoes protect your feet from dropped pottery tools, hot bisque, or pottery and kiln furniture in your studio. They also provide extra traction in case the floor is a bit slippery.If you have any further questions about how to stay safe in your pottery studio, we’re here to help! Leave a comment here on the blog, or get in touch with our team on social media. We’re on Facebook and Instagram and can’t wait to help!