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powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

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seachange
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powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby seachange » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:07 pm

Hi,

Have just started working more intensively with powders. My question relates to good studio practices to prevent cross contamination of colors and to keep the area clean.
(use a proper respirator and a big white cotton shirt over my warm clothes).

Because I am just starting, I am preparing small test tiles to go in the kiln together with any bigger piece. The test tiles are one small square of one color, and a strip with 2 or 3 colors partly blended. Often make several test tiles, so end up with lots of colors being used at the same time.

My questions are:

Can I wipe the plastic spoon with a tissue each time and keep using the same spoon for all the colors? Is this cleaning with a tissue enough to prevent cross contamination or do I need to use a different spoon for each color?

Same question about the little sieves. Is it safe just to wipe them well, or should I wash and dry them each time before using a new color? The sieves are the red ones with a flat bottom and a twisted wire handle.

At present I drop the used spoon in a bowl of water, and use a new one for each color. Wash and dry the sieves each time (currently have only two sieves).

Saving the powder:

I use a new piece of recycled printer paper for each tile. When using only one color, the spilled powder goes back into the bottle. The paper gets folded and into the waste bin, then use a new piece of paper for the next color tile. When I am mixing colors, the spilled mix goes into a small plastic container, labelled.
At the moment ending up with lots of little containers, with just a bit of powder in them.

Working area:

Have placed a large self healing mat on the table (a left over from my textile days). On this I use another, smaller (22"x16") mat. This smaller one I take out at the end of the session and hose it down. The bigger one underneath it I wipe clean with a wet cloth.

Keep a bowl of water handy to rinse my hands if they feel gritty.

Label all the powder bottles (currently only the small 5oz bottles) according to BE reactive chart, so I don't need to look it up each time.

I am hoping that those of you that work frequently with powder will share with me how you keep your space clean and the powders organised. I don't mean so much stored, but perhaps labelled in some meaningful way?

Am I perhaps paranoid about cross contamination? (reading about reactive issues is keeping me on my toes :| ).

Is my cleaning regime good enough - or too much? The studio is in my home, and part of it is my office. I am not neat - my computer desk is always an untidy mess - but have learned to be organised, out of sheer necessity. I use the same table for cutting glass, for powder work, for cutting fiber paper, for assembling pieces to go in the kiln. So each lot with corresponding bits and tools has to go back to its storage space before I can make the next step.

When I started with glass, did one year at a local technical institute. We learned about good studio practices among other things. But I didn't work with powders then, so not sure where the reasonable line is between doing it right and not going overboard and wasting too much time.

Many thanks as always, seachange

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby JestersBaubles » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:20 pm

You are probably overkill, I am underkill. I knock the powder off the spoon and move on to the new color. Single colors that have no way of being contaminated go back into the original container. Overspill from multiple colors goes in the trash.

Dana W.

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby S.TImmerman » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:50 pm

Holy buckets! Last week I got my order for every color in 90 Coe. Great post, I am doing the exact thing you are. Besides all your questions , what's the best way to make samples? On cut glass? In a tile mold? Do you make the mold yourself?
Thanks Seachange!
ST

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Morganica » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:43 am

I'd like to say I'm even more religious about not contaminating jars as you. I'd LIKE to say that...it would be a lie. But I think you're a bit into overkill... ;-)

When I started out, I followed the Bullseye class model--you scoop out as much frit as you're going to need from the jar, into a little plastic cup, and work from that. At the end of the day you either save the cup or toss it, but you don't put it back. I continue to do that when I'm teaching in my studio because it's easier than soothing a horrified student who dumped an ounce of turquoise into the french vanilla.

When I'm working on my own, though, I do work directly from the jar; I'm not going to waste frit, and I've had more contamination problems with the little cups going back into the jar than anything else. I do have some rules about it, though. I keep the caps on the jars I'm not immediately using, and the two or three I am working with are spaced apart and obvious. I also avoid the temptation to get every possible jar out and opened by setting up the studio so that all the frit jars are directly behind me. That makes it very easy to replace a jar when I'm done:
Image
Test-wise, it depends on what you're doing. Most of my samples are for casting/pate de verre, which requires thicker pieces than fusing. For those, I build silicone master molds so it's easy to pour the same mold again and again. (If you want to see how I do it, check http://www.morganica.com/bloggery/2007/glasswork/castingpate-de-verre/making-color-samples-for-pate-de-verre/)

For fusing, though, you don't need to be so elaborate. You'll use a lot of frit if you pile up enough to fuse into a flat plate without holes, so it's easiest to pile frit on a piece of the glass you use most as a base glass (usually white or clear). Frequently I make cells by gluing strips of clear or black to a sheet of glass, which makes it easy to fill with whatever I'm testing.
Image

Be sure to mark the samples, or very clearly map them on a sheet of paper. And either notch a corner of your test glass, or stick a little dab of a strong opal color on one corner, or write on it with a heat-resistant marker (like a Brite-Chem). That way, when it comes out of the kiln, you can orient it easily, and figure out what color you put where.
Cynthia Morgan
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seachange
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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby seachange » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:25 am

Hi Cynthia

Many thanks for replying, your answers are always so interesting. Also for the pictures. The idea of making little compartments on the base glass by gluing strips is great, I'll put that into action.

Also about marking a corner. Made a plate with 36 colors, and a matching diagram on the computer with color names and notes, but I am forever turning the plate this and that way till it matches the paper...it is so obvious when you mention it :oops: Will get the Brite Chem. Black markers, even the waterproof ones, don't last at all.

Have being doing something similar with the bottles, opening only two or three, keeping the caps separated, but noticed it will be safer to label the caps as well.

Still have a question about the spoons and sieves: when you use the powder from the bottle, due you pour directly from it, or use something to take a quantity out and sprinkle it? If so, is it one "something", one sieve per color, or do you wipe them clean (dry wipe) and reuse? Or do you think is safer to put them aside and wash them afterwards?...have to order a few more sieves in this case.

I find the sieves with the flat bottom spread the powder quite evenly. Have read many people using round tea strainers, still have to try one (my tea all comes in bags :wink: ). Think that the rounded shape must have an effect on the powder distribution, but don't know yet if it is better or worse.

I am surprised at how much powder clings to everything, including my fingers. The bowl of water always has a residue in it. Eventually will re-arrange the room and have a table dedicated to this work, it will be easier to keep it clean.

Many thanks again, all best wishes,
seachange

seachange
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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby seachange » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:30 am

JestersBaubles wrote:You are probably overkill, I am underkill. I knock the powder off the spoon and move on to the new color. Single colors that have no way of being contaminated go back into the original container. Overspill from multiple colors goes in the trash.

Dana W.


Hi Dana

I think some of my overspill will eventually also end up in the trash. At the moment is all testing, suppose eventually will set around some favorite colors and combinations. At present every bit seems useful, though it does complicate things a bit :wink:

Many thanks, seachange

seachange
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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby seachange » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:56 am

S.TImmerman wrote:Holy buckets! Last week I got my order for every color in 90 Coe. Great post, I am doing the exact thing you are. Besides all your questions , what's the best way to make samples? On cut glass? In a tile mold? Do you make the mold yourself?
Thanks Seachange!
ST


You are very welcome, happy that my query helps others also :D. Cynthia's suggestions about making samples are both great. To my understanding, pate de verre makes use of many subtle variations in color depth, so the repeatable and deeper molds are really a necessity for that.

I am working on a base plate, so will be using her suggestion of making little divisions with glued strips. Specially because some colors that I'd like to be able to compare next to each other can be reactive and can get muddy at the point of contact.

Since you got all the colors at once, you have a great opportunity to think it out well and make good color boards. I bought 36 colors, now another 5.

It seems to me that in the end a color board (may be one for neutrals, one for warms, one for cool colors) plus individual color chips (that I can place next to each other) are going to be the most practical mix for me.

A long time ago I made sample strips of dichroic colors. Found it excellent for an overview, but didn't let me bring one color next to the other. This time I'll do it properly :wink:

All the best with your work, seachange

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Valerie Adams » Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:39 am

I've only got a few strainers of different sizes, along with an old toddler-sized spoon I use for scooping. I scoop with the spoon, then tap it smartly against my drafting table's edge to remove most of the powder, then wipe it with a designated cloth, which I change frequently. Never thought of dipping it in water, though. I just smack the strainers until I feel they can't hold any (or much!) residue.

I set the jar lid upside down, place my strainer in it, and then spoon powder into the strainer, so any extra powder is captured in the lid and therefore easy to pour back into the jar. When I'm applying powder to glass, I keep a large piece of card stock under my glass so I can retrieve the excess powder as I go. Since I typically work in only a few colors at a time, I can then salvage the extra powder and store it in mixed jars labeled "warm" or "cool." I'll use these "grab bag" mixed powders now and then when I want a pinch of random color.

As with everyone else, I only open a few jars at a time, and keep them separated. I had heavy-duty drawers built to store my 1-pound jars so I've labeled each lid with a white paint marker since I need to identify them from the top.

One of my very best strainers is a flat bottomed round strainer that fits the lids perfectly, purchased at the Japanese Dollar Store.

seachange
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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby seachange » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:25 am

Hi Valerie,

Many thanks for explaining your process, the sequence is more practical than what I was doing. Filling the strainer on the lid will keep everything better together. I'll see if I can get those japanese flat strainers here, the red ones are a bit small.

Many thanks again

Best wishes, seachange

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Bob » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:43 am

Hi Seachange,

Your studio practices are worthy of NASA. I wish I was as thorough and careful.I am very careful about contamination but I do not wash sample spoons or sifters between uses nor do I discard the printer paper. I buy most powders in 5 pound jars but I transfer the powder into 1 pound jars ( and even then only 1/3 to 1/2 full) to minimize the rist of contamination. I prefer to use tea ball sifters (the ones with the spring loaded strainer that is used for single cups of tea). I have one sifter placed in each open jar so when I am finished with a colour I can put the sifter into the jar that doesn't have a sifter. This speeds up my work and reduces the contamination.

I work over sheets of paper which, as you suggest, allows me to return uncontaminated powder to jars. I keep a damp sponge and a dishpan of water nearby and frequently wipe the table top to remove stray powder. One contamination problem that I have run into is getting scrap powder on the edges of my hand and then when I work over the glass piece It falls on and contaminates the surface.

I work a lot with blended powders so contamination is not a problem... unless. The two noticeable impacts of contamination are grains of dark scrap powder on a substantially lighter colour background. The dark dots are very visible. The other problem is reactive powders. A few grains of scrap powder that reacts with the powder on the piece will leave little dark spots that will be an eyesore. I found wiping the surface as scrap powder accumulates really helps prevent contamination.

My only suggestion on containers would be to label the side of the container with large letters (permanent marker). It makes finding powders easier when there are lots of jars around. I don't label the lids... but I do make sure there is no powder clinging to the inside threads of the lid before screwing it on.

For personal safety I always wear an asbestos grade respirator when working with powder and if your studio is in your house then I would have a HEPA grade air cleaner to ensure that dust doesn't get into your living space.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Bob

seachange
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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby seachange » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:50 am

Hi Bob,

Many thanks for all the details...had to smile about the NASA comparison :).

Started by doing everything possible I could think of to cover all bases, now with the help of everyone that replied to this thread I am moving back to something that functions but is more practical...no point overdoing it, each day is short enough as it is.

Your idea of decanting some powder into smaller jars is really good, will use this as I start buying larger quantities of the colors that are working well for me. I am happy to know that those tea balls sifter work well, they are easily available here. Have been trying to get the japanese flat strainers Valerie mentioned, but no luck till now.

I am slowly learning to work within a reactivity type, for example blending sulfur containing colors with each other or with neutrals. Or to separate reactive colors with neutrals. It is early days and very interesting.

Many thanks again for your explanation. Just want to mention that I really like your work, and also like the fact that you have developed a totally new technique, like the crackle, and continue to work on new techniques. Blazing new trails in any field is, to me, always admirable.

All best wishes, seachange

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Valerie Adams » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:57 pm

seachange wrote:Have been trying to get the japanese flat strainers Valerie mentioned, but no luck till now.


I keep trying to buy them again but haven't had any luck either!

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Morganica » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:42 pm

They're actually enamel sieves, so if you look at enameling supply centers you'll usually find them:

http://www.enameling.com/Screen,_sift.html

Our local ceramics supply house sometimes carries them, and whenever they do I usually buy up the entire supply. I go through those things like powder through a sieve.
Cynthia Morgan
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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Valerie Adams » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:07 pm

I have the enamel sifters and like them, but for large fields of powder, I LOVE my Japanese sifter. All is says on it is Made in Japan. I wish I would've bought several when I paid a buck for this one but I'll continue looking in my travels. Here, you can see it sitting in the jar lid:
sifter.jpg

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby jim simmons » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:07 pm

GROAN :>)


Morganica wrote::

http://www.enameling.com/Screen,_sift.html

Our local ceramics supply house sometimes carries them, and whenever they do I usually buy up the entire supply. I go through those things like powder through a sieve.

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Valerie Adams » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:12 pm

SCORE! I was in Berkeley Sunday and stopped at Diaso. They had eight sifters so I bought all of them, at a buck-fifty each.

The guy at the register told me they'll order stuff if you've got the barcode, which I do. Let me know if anyone's interested and I'll send it.

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Bert Weiss » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:40 am

Valerie Adams wrote:I have the enamel sifters and like them, but for large fields of powder, I LOVE my Japanese sifter. All is says on it is Made in Japan. I wish I would've bought several when I paid a buck for this one but I'll continue looking in my travels. Here, you can see it sitting in the jar lid:
sifter.jpg
The way the twisted handle sifters work, is you can rub your finger nail over the bumps and get the powder to fall through.

When I worked with Thompson Enamel, I would save all the random powders that I knocked off or otherwise didn't use. I mixed them all together and fired it to see what it looked like. The cobalt blue sort of took over and it turned a pretty ugly gray color. The metal enamelists do this and use it as a counter enamel. They coat the back side of a piece with the glass frit, to equalize the expansion/contraction forces.
Bert

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby haleybach » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:58 pm

Excellent ideas on this thread.

I'm just starting to explore, um, everything glass.

Since the thread seems to have gone towards sifters I'll start my questions there.

Do any of you know if flour sifters would work? It is easy to change the mesh size, might put too much powder into the air though. Thoughts?

Is there any detailed information on which Bullseye 'powders' -0008's are more or less fine (mesh sizes)? Exact or ball park.

I can't buy every color right now, so any suggestions on a nice starting point?

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Re: powders-good studio practice-avoiding contamination

Postby Dairy Queen » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:33 am

Starting point: black and clear

Don't use flour sifter- too many nooks and crannies for powder to get stuck, and crank action does, indeed put too much into the air.

Bullseye's powder and size fine are very true to size, and are a good match for the sifters sold by Bullseye.

Good luck and have fun!

Rose

ps. I use very few powders. Most effects can be accomplished with fine, without as many dangers.
Love and luck make a wonderful lifestyle.


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