It covers classroom clay cleaning issues. Since posting the page, I have begun to experiment with using pieces of Dupont Tyvek the same way as canvas is used on tables. It is sold as house wrap. I pick it up at construction sites when they cut out and toss the pieces that go across window and door openings. Tyvek seems easier than canvas to sponge away clay residue at the end of class.
I like to have an ample supply of nice big sponges to use at cleanup time at the end of class. If I send two clean sponges to every table, the first sponge removes all the clay and the second sponge removes the remaining haze. Finally a paper towel finishes the job. Students also sponge the floor where ever there is any spillage. They treat the floor around the table just like the table.
We need to use caution vacuuming. Wet-dry vacuums are certainly safe when vacuuming dirty clay water from the floor. However, I would not trust them for dry dust even if there is water in the canister. I believe they could pass finest dust through the filter. I have tried special vacuums with clay approved filters, but the filters get clogged fairly soon, and they need to be inspected to be sure they are operating correctly. It is safe to locate the vacuum outside with only negative pressure vacuum pipes and hoses indoors. Even if it leaks some dust, all the discharge from the vacuum is outdoors. I do this in my own studio, but it can be hard to get it installed in a school.
I hope this helps. Clay is among the oldest, most abundant, most permanent, most adaptable, fairly cheap or free if you dig it, and arguably the most enjoyable, art material. It is among the safest art materials when handled with common sense. Clay work probably nurtures parts of the brain, types of thinking, and physical genius not otherwise covered in the art curriculum.
Dr. Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171??
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before." ... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.