I have this piece of equipment that my husband gave me for my studio and I want to tell you about it. It's bigger than a bread box but it's compact and smaller that the kitchen sink and I use it every day while working with the kinds of tools and chemicals that make smoke and pump fumes into my space. It's my Sentry Air Fume Extractor. I have the model Winged Sentry SS-200-WS and I keep it at my soldering station.
21 inches wide and 18 inches deep as shown positioned in this photo, 11 inches high from top to bottom
HERE'S THE BACKSTORY:
A few years ago, in 2010, I was happily and intently working in my studio every day. I was soldering metals together, pouring resins into recesses, working on a self published book called "Jewelry, the Zine" and preparing for my teaching gig at Artfest for the third year in a row, making metal clay samples for class and firing them in a kiln, taking bronze and copper clay classes from Hadar Jacobson, hardly sleeping because I was on fire! Some of you know me from that time.
Then one day I noticed red spots beginning to appear on the insides of my arms, my stomach, and the sides of my midriff and they kept on coming. They itched, especially first thing in the morning and in the evening. I went to my doctor and she didn't know anything about them, couldn't really help me and I went away puzzled. Someone suggest acupuncture and we heard of a great Doctor of Chinese Medicine in Berkeley named Dr. Zeiger.
He knew most of what had happened just by listening to my story, looking, tapping and checking out the look of my tongue. He said that basically I had poisoned myself and that all the things I was working on and also neglecting to do had cumulatively over taxed my liver and it couldn't handle the toxins to which I had exposed my body. I was absorbing and my body had to get rid of the toxins somehow and they were coming out through my skin. Weird!
He made me come back every week for a couple of months, pushed little needles into me in many places and each week gave me the current batch of herbs to make myself hot drinks a couple of times a day to cleanse my system. It worked, the spots receded and I was healthy again.
I did learn something and that was that I would have sacrificed my health for work and if not for the spots, I would have continued to work that way until something worse would have happened to me.
I never pushed myself that hard again. I started by quitting the bronze and copper clays because the doctor said that the skin absorbs the minute particles of these metals and that's a toxic situation, especially in tandem with other toxic processes. I don't pour resin in a tiny bathroom with no windows anymore . . . DUH! I get way more sleep in general (even though I still stay up all night sometimes). I drink more water and I exercise to keep things moving through my system.
The very best thing I did is get the Sentry Air Fume Extractor. It's really growing on me and I'm loving it! I put it at the very end of my work bench where I solder but I can move it anywhere I have a 3 prong outlet. I even have some outlets in my studio floor. It takes the regular household voltage.
I can place it next to my kiln when I'm firing metal clay or enameling.
I can move it next to my little convection oven when I'm baking polymer clay.
After I moved and set up my new studio I posted some pictures of my space on facebook. My friend Deryn Mentock saw the photos showing the fume extractor, asked me some questions and since she lives in Texas, not far from the Sentry Air company, she drove right down there and got one too.
So now both of us are protected from the toxins that we are creating while we work. We have the assurance that we're making things in a healthier environment. If you take a little side trip to this link to Deryn's blog, she made a video about it.
The Sentry Air people were happy to hear about us especially after Deryn posted her video and sent a bunch of our friends over there to check it out and they hosted Jewel Day 2014 on their blog and wrote stories about both of us last week. Here's the link to mine if you'd like to read it:
Don't take chances with your health. Figure out your ventilation, not just your eye protection. Take care of yourself so you can have a long happy life doing what you love to do.