I am soon moving to a new studio and one of my main objectives is to create a dust-free environment. However, when I first mentioned this, it was pointed out that it is impossible to have a completely dust-free ceramics studio. Therefore, I have adjusted my objectives slightly, in order to create a minimal dust studio instead!
To achieve this, I searched the Internet and asked for advice and tips on social media. Here are some ideas that I think are quite practical which I want to share with you too. I did not include obvious tips, such as cleaning the studio often or washing aprons and towels regularly.
Use a door mat that can be washed at the front door. I found Ikea’s YDBY door mat to be great and easy to keep clean - simply rinse with water.
Have studio shoes which you can change into and only wear in the studio. No dust goes home with you!
Use a lab coat, so all your clothes stay protected. Alternatively, consider a set of studio clothes that you can change into when you enter the studio.
Cupboards with doors provide better dust protection for storage than open shelves for storage.
Rugs and carpets are dust collectors!
If you have a concert floor, seal and paint it so it is smooth and easy to clean.
No canvas work surfaces - they create dust and are big dust collectors! Instead, try creating works on a couple of layers of butcher’s paper, a plywood surface or a plaster bat. Some suggested that a cement sheet is the best alternative.
For slab rollers, use SlabMat instead of canvas. A SlabMat is a non-woven fabric that provides a smooth surface for clay work. Unlike canvas, SlabMats have no weave for clay dust to sift through and, therefore, is cleaner for studio use.
Use radiated heat NOT blower type fan heat and no fan.
Keep everything up on bricks or similar so you can hose the floor down.
Take a serious look at your daily work habits/processes and figure out HOW that dust is getting there. Spend some time being very critical and looking at such simple things like wiping the side of a dry piece of pottery with your hand and then blowing it off. See if you can modify or change the way you work to create less dust.
Get lots of plants in your studio. They help clean the air and may help stop dust moving around the studio.
Avoid sanding, carving, scraping or sgraffito of dry pieces. If you must, do it over a moist newspaper or a shallow bowl of water so all the fine dust drops straight into the water.
No blowing when carving, incising, glazing or sanding.
Dampen bisque before sanding.
Never scrape dry clay from ware boards or bats, wash it off instead.
Replace plastic sheets that cover the shelf or your work regularly as it gathers dust.
Use plastic containers with lids for dry material storage.
Take clay out of the bag and place in a plastic container, in order to eliminate clay dust from the bag.
NO floor sweeping! Use a wet mop only and change water in the bucket often.
Mopping with hot water can speed up cleaning.
Hosing down the floor is best.
As a prep. for mopping, try pouring water across the floor using a watering can then wet-dry vacuuming. This makes mopping much easier.
Use a wet vacuum with a HEPA filter. Never use a normal dry vacuum. A HEPA filter helps capture micron-sized silica particles which are blown out by the vacuum cleaner.
Some use a sweeping compound or wet sawdust to keep dust down before sweeping, but many say it is not good enough to retain the silicon dust.
Fold an old, wet towel over the end of a sponge mop. Then just throw it in the washing machine with other studio ‘rags’.
Carry two large, clean sponges from the sink: the first sponge soaks up the mess and the second sponge removes the residue. You can replace the second sponge with a towel.
To prevent dust settling on the surface, add fabric softener to water to clean all surfaces.
Use a wet microfibre cloth to wipe down benches. It removes all the dust, does not leave any streaks and washes up nice and clean for next time. However, some said those microfibre cloths don't hold as much clay dust once washed.
Use a triple rinsing bucket system to control and concentrate clay and glaze waste.
Don't let clay dry before cleaning it up.
Clean at the end of each day, so any dust generated during cleaning can settle overnight.