Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lessons from the spray booth

Well folks, I've finally done it! Thanks to a grant from the Durham Arts Council, I have, in the past few months:

  • organized a space in the basement for storing glaze chemicals and mixing glazes (which involved removing a lot of junk, and nudging S to organize his hoard. Despite adding a few hundred pounds of raw glaze chemicals, the basement is now a far far safer place than it was previously);
  • purchased or collected the necessary equipment for mixing glazes (buckets, jars, sieves, scale, scoops, cabinet, drill & mixing extension, table, etc. etc.);
  • replaced the homemade spray booth that S designed for me from a 45-gallon chemical storage keg (a cool idea, and much appreciated, but tiny) with a much more spacious, easier-to-clean, affordable booth I nabbed from a potter who was closing up shop;
  • and reorganized my porch studio to accommodate the spray booth, which was originally supposed to go in the basement, but--ha--it wouldn't fit through the hobbit door; so we decided to put it on the front porch, but it wouldn't fit through the human door either; so S took out a screen panel, and we lifted the booth over the railing into the porch studio and re-installed the screen. That was some unexpected fun.

Finally, finally, I spent last weekend in the basement hanging out with the camel crickets and the mosquitoes, mixing up glazes.

And then, finally, finally, finally, today, I plugged in the compressor and the hood, hooked up the sprayer, and set to work.

Here is what I have learned so far:

Lesson 1: Before spraying, you're supposed to make sure your glazes are well sieved, lest they clog up the sprayer. Something clogged up my sprayer almost immediately, but it wasn't the newly mixed, freshly sieved glaze. I noticed little black threads accumulating in the sprayer nozzle. I took the nozzle apart and discovered the problem. Turns out, ants are not well sieved. They come through the nozzle in little shredded bits of abdomen, legs, and who knows what. There were about one and a half survivors; I'm not sure how many casualties there were. It has never been my practice with other spray booths to check for ants in the hosing first, but from here on out, it will be part of my plan.

Lesson 2: The compressor draws too much current and keeps tripping the circuit breaker. This is very annoying, and more than a little disappointing on Spray Booth Grand Opening day.

Lesson 3: Spiders loooove bisqueware. There is no better place to start a web than on a bisqued bowl that is about to be glazed. The more recently the bowl has been wiped down, the better: there's no time like the present!

(Since I'm sharing bug lessons, I should add that the dried up palmetto bug that fell off a greenware bowl into the bottom of the kiln on Sunday combusted 100% at cone 06/1824oF.)

Now I shall eat lunch.

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