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Studio Health

In my studio, I work in tacky media like wax and paint as well as dusty media (papier mache, paper carving, wood carving, sanding.) I also use materials that create smoke and fumes, like encaustic, alcohol inks, varnish and flame. It’s important to keep all these materials from contaminating each other, as well as keeping the dust and fumes out of my lungs.

A few years ago, I purchased for my home studio a fume extractor which moved air out a louvered port in the window, but it didn’t help with the dust particles. I kept a dust-buster handy at all times. When I moved to a larger space this year, it was partly to give myself room to spread out my workstations and partly to have room for visiting artists and collectors. Either way, it was time to overhaul my exhaust systems!

I was lucky to have been awarded a Get Ready grant from CERF+ to improve the air quality in my studio. (CERF+ is a non-profit organization that supports artists working in traditional craft mediums, with resources for health, business practices, disaster mitigation and overall sustainability of their art careers.) I did a lot of research on the best way to accomplish this in my particular studio, but the information I collected is useful for any artist working indoors. Some of the considerations were: existing ventilation, types of filtering units available, type/size of contaminates, size of the room, and the size and placement of workstations.

I learned that it would work best for my practice to combine targeted dust collection with a broader air purifier to capture the small, invisible contaminates floating around. Because the HVAC system is shared throughout the building, I am limited to making changes within my space. I created a 2-3 phase plan that would make the biggest change right away and allow for finer adjustments of air quality in the future.

In the end, I chose to target the origin of the dust with a single-bag dust collection system that can be aimed at the tool I am using. Because my work ranges from small to life-sized, I added a boom arm attached to my worktable and a wheeled stand for the option of moving around the room for bigger pieces. The next upgrades I will make is to add a down-draft table on my work surface and an air purifier to continuously capture the minute particles floating in the air.

The following is a breakdown of my thought process in creating my system. It’s a basic overview and a list of resources that you can check for a deeper understanding of the issues. (Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of HVAC systems, chemical agents or biological contaminants. I am only referring to smoke, fumes and dust in your studio.)

LINK 1  HOW BIG IS A MICRON, ANYWAY?

LINK 2  

LINK 3  WHAT THE HECK IS ACH, BESIDES ELECTRONIC BANK PAYMENTS...?

LINK 4  FUMES VS VAPORS

LINK 5  THE DOWN AND DIRTY ON FILTER FABRICS

LINK 6  WHAT MASK DO YOU NEED?

LINK 7  SYSTEM COMPARISONS, INCLUDING DIY BOX FAN FILTER

LINK 8  MERV RATING

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This Website Uses Augmented Reality to Live Preview the Art

This means that you can superimpose any piece of art onto a wall that you view through your phone or tablet, without downloading an app!

Just look for the "Live Preview AR" button when viewing any piece of art on this website. You must have the camera enabled on your device.