Monday, May 28, 2018

Spring Cleaning

clean floor, clean under table spaces (don't look on the tables yet)

This was a long weekend, almost at the start of summer and we weren't traveling, so on Saturday and Sunday I finally finished cleaning my home clay studio. I started this big project in January on the first three-day weekend after the quarter started, then did some more work on a three-day weekend in February, and didn't get much done for the busy months of March, April, and most of May.

I ordered clay, because it  is almost summer throwing time!

My studio gets pretty messy over the course of a regular school year, because I only use it for storage and for packing material while classes are in session--and with out the separate heater on it always seems to cold to clean up after myself. I throw and build and glaze during the summer and not much during the year except around Christmas. The big clean this year addressed the regular mess as well as messes that have been accumulating for up to a decade.

clean cabinets and countertops

In January and February this year, I went through the extensive process of cleaning out the upper and lower cabinets and drawers in the clay studio. The upper cabinets basically hadn't been cleared out since 2008. I had a lot of old stuff stored up there that I no longer used, but I also had some packing material that might be useful if I knew where it was.

underglazes stored in an organized fashion!

My main goal was to clear out and clean up the countertop and to make the cabinets and cupboards useable space. I bought some pull out drawers to keep my many, many bottles of underglaze accessible but sorted and out of the way. I can now pull out each tray of 8 underglaze pints and then slide the tray right back when I am done, rather than needing to pull out a large heavy box or each pint one by one as I had before. I also marked the packing material boxes in the upper cabinets so I can remember where the packing material is when a show comes up.

the aftermath of packing for a show and clearing out the cabinets, aka the before picture

Once the counter was clear and the cabinets were organized, I was a bit overwhelmed to look at the rest of the studio, so just looked at the cabinets for a few months. To add to the usual mess, I had shipped some large work to California in March. The packing was done in the middle of the clay studio (really all of the clay studio), and the packing material had left bits and pieces all over the floor. I then packed work for shows and shipping a couple more times, meaning that I had gone looking for boxes and packing material in its usual storage spot under the main work table. The boxes never really got put back correctly.

the space under the tables makes me really happy, organized rather than cluttered, and no dust

This weekend I removed all the stuff from under the tables, reorganized it, tossed the junk, reduced the quantity of boxes I am now keeping, and replaced it all after vacuuming the floor and removing the rugs and plastic. The floor in my studio is ridiculous. The studio had wall to wall carpeting as well as all over the walls carpeting (you can see a picture of my ridiculous walls in this post). Back in 2007, I had laid down plastic sheeting over the carpet to protect it from clay, glaze, spills, etc. I had then laid rugs over the carpet. Carpet and rugs are both bad flooring to have in a clay studio. It is better to have surfaces that can be wiped up with water, so that clay dust doesn't end up in the air. 

the carpet under the plastic actually looks pretty good, better than the stuff we've been walking on for 10 years

Back in 2007/8, we weren't ready to rip out the carpet, deal with the walls, and replace the clay studio floor, so the solution we found was good for the floor and easy to clean up, but less good for clay dust abatement. The nice thing about the rugs is that they can be washed in the washing machine, taken out side and hosed off, or otherwise cleaned wet, but they also can trap dry bits of clay until they are cleaned. If they get walked on, this can produce airborne dust. In theory, the plastic sheeting would have been easy to clean, but it practice it moves around and ends up trapping clay bits in the wrinkles after it has shifted, which is then difficult to clean. Lately I have been vacuuming with a long hosed shop vac positioned outside the closed exterior door and it appears that I can get the carpet cleaned more efficiently and quickly than with the earlier set up. Ideally I would rip out all the carpet and put in tile or laminate.

lawn cleaning in the shade

Of course one of the things that comes up in a big clean is that every surface and storage space had stuff in it, especially since I haven't done this in years. I had lots of jars of dried slip, lots of trays with  dried clay on them, jars of dried glaze, and one jar of flies, for some reason (I didn't put them there). My studio helper volunteered to do some cleaning, so she set up in the yard and washed and washed and washed. It actually took two separate cleaning sessions to get through all the stuff.

cleaned tools and containers drying after cleaning

We did eventually get all the containers and tools cleaned and I found lids to go with the ones I'll be keeping and tossed the broken, lidless, and strangely shaped containers and tools. There are still about two boxes more lidded containers than I actually need, so I'll be taking them out of the studio this week.

two boxes of clean and lidded slip and glaze containers

It felt like a lot of work, but my studio space is now set up and ready for summer (3 weeks left counting finals). The previously dirty studio areas are now clean and sustainably so, I think, and the tools are clean and ready for the summer. I had fresh clay delivered last week and my work spaces will be cleared off soon now that the tools and containers have dried. I even found some partial bags of dried clay that I had forgotten about. The clay is currently in the process of being recycled.

clay pieces I found when cleaning under one of the tables

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