Tag Archives | spray booth


I knew there was one potential flaw to moving the airbrush station to the garage. The garage had the space, but it wasn’t heated. I’d been really optimistic that my high-powered space heater would keep the area useable in the winter. What I hadn’t counted on was the unseasonably cold weather we’ve been having. Even with the heater running, the workspace out there has barely gotten above 40 degrees most days this week.

I decided this was nature’s way of telling me that it was time to clean greenware. It’s not the most glamorous part of ceramic production, but at least it can be done in my warm studio!

It’s probably just as well, since the spray booth has been taken over by the guys and their Pinewood Derby project. It’s probably not obvious from the picture, but this year’s car is going to be shaped like a giant red Lego block. Thankfully Alan wrapped the booth with newspaper, or I’d be doing the rest of my painting (when it finally gets warm enough again) in a glossy red booth.

We really needed the spray booth a few years ago, when my older son was working on both his Science Fair project and his Pinewood Derby car. His experiment involved finding out if crickets, which are apparently omnivores like people, lived longer on a balanced diet of healthy food or soda and pizza. (For my friends who are parents, you don’t really want to know the answer…) Since I am notoriously bug phobic, I insisted that the crickets live in the garage. Brandon and his father built an elaborate plexiglass enclosure for the two groups, and set it up in the corner of the garage. Unfortunately, it was the same garage where we’d later spray paint the Derby car. I can report that while crickets actually do quite well on pizza, they aren’t at all compatible with spray paint fumes. Every last one of them was belly-up within the hour! It wasn’t a sight to give anyone a lot of confidence about breathing the smelly stuff.

It did make me happy, though, to see that there was almost no smell this time around. I wasn’t willing to bring in any test crickets to be sure, but it did seem that the only odor was coming from the paint on the car itself. Surely that must mean the booth is working for me, too.

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Wrapping up and moving on

I was able to reach my goal of wrapping up the “Inspire” project before the start of the new (work) year. With luck they might even reach their destination before January 6, which is the twelfth day of Christmas. Each year I cut it closer and closer, which makes me think I need to give in and just say I send Valentine’s gifts!

I did learn quite a bit, which is one of the benefits of doing these kinds of projects. This was, for instance, the first time I had used a spray gun to apply an art glaze. That was one of the benefits of having the new spray booth. It certainly is faster than using sponges, which was how they were done before. What I didn’t count on was the waste involved due to overspray. I had mixed a teal glaze (to the left in the picture above) that I wanted to use for all 25 tiles, only to run out half way through. I didn’t want to delay things with a wait for more glaze, so I did the other half in a true green. Next time I’ll know to mix a much larger batch for this kind of application.

I still have more plans for “Inspire”, including the original purpose as a trading card. But working on those will be more like working on regular horses, since the materials are the same. After weeks of looking at teal and green, I’m ready to return to the world of silver dapple leopards and chestnut roan sabinos.

That meant cleaning up the studio, which had slowly been trashed by each step in the process of making the tiles. It reminded me that I wanted to do a more serious reorganization of my work space later this spring. Ten years of ceramic work is starting to show in the accumulation of mostly-worn molds, not-really-moist-anymore clays and glazes of questionable attractiveness.

I look at these shelves and remember telling Joan, back when I started, that I had no real interest in making my own molds.

These are the other things I’ve accumulated. The bottle to the right holds all my spent #11 blades. I started tossing them in the glass bottle thinking that it was a good way to dispose of them once it was full. I have no idea how many blades are in there, but it is 2.5 lbs worth of Xactos. Two and a half pounds of scritching! I guess it’s safe to say I’m not inclined to developing carpal tunnel.

The second container holds all the used bars from my kiln. Each on represents a separate firing. It stopped being representative of all the firings done in the studio when I added the smaller test kiln, since it uses a Bartlett controller instead of cones. That’s the kiln I use for most of my bisque firings, so it gets a lot more use than the big one. Still it’s a fun reminder of how much use the kilns have gotten since I set up the ceramic shop. I have always thought that once it was full, I’d hold a guessing jar contest. That might be a ways off, though, since I’ve only managed to get it 3/4 full in ten years.

But massive studio reorganizations will have to wait until spring. For now I am just happy to have my countertops back.

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