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again, copper!

updated mon 16 may 05


bill edwards on sun 15 may 05

We're right back to square one where some are trying
to argue points against an already well worked
subject. We understand Wilson's disease, but thats a
small few who have inability to use copper. What about
Menkes disease? The polor opposite where these people
may not be getting enough. It's up to the vast sea of
scientific rendering and the various bodies of
differences made by professionals, not a potters
toxicology understanding. We can offer our
perspective, not an exclusive analogy as some have.
Lead is not the subject! The findings on lead was done
on a much earlier level and quickly looked at once
discovery was made using new technology and equipment
and perhaps common sense. If copper was as toxic as
some want to make it, there would be no copper water
lines available and you can still buy them at most any
plumbing supply business. Apparently the risks aren't
as great as some seem to make them appear. And
personally I had to learn a great deal about lead and
many other materials as an owner of an artist colorant
business where I spent lots of time in labs and with
toxicologists and I was also a chemical mixer for a
well known company before all that, even before
college, latter turned art director and now I am more
alive than dead but dying on a daily basis and have
out-lived my father who's heart gave out from
toxic/chronic issues with alcohol and cholesterol.

(Didn't we all already agree that a lemon or vinegar
test is the cheapest most rapid method to use as first
response to checking out a glaze for potential

Wise it is to use your head. If you use a glaze that
contains an excessive amount of copper and you would
be using it for food bearing surfaces, its a small
price to pay to see how well your wares are standing
up on a scientific level and work towards reducing any
problems if and when you find one. However in the past
and in here, we have seen over-doses of fear more than
we have fact. It appears that John has some good
information that about 2% seems to hold up well in
some glazes but seems to leak out at higher
concentrations. That came from a scientific evaluation
based on what I read. If you have a glaze that can
contain 4% and the lab report is still giving you a
low level pull, you might be on to something? I had
one to hold up pretty good at that level!!!! Hmmmmm.

I disagree totally with the below evaluation. There is
a therapeutic level for copper, there is a toxic level
as well. Same can be said for most materials when over
consumption of a compound or chemical is used. The
labs are better suited to this greater understanding
than all of us squabbling back and forth without
scientific facts and what few toxicologists that
remain on this group, if any have surely tired by now?
We 'used' to have some years ago and many didn't
listen to them, instead they argued them away. But on
the other hand, who wants to listen to those who have
spent near 8 years or more learning about things that
could kill you or help you, not to include all the
years of hands on training???

Yes, Copper, Chrome, Cobalt, vanadium, zinc, nickle,
antimony, tin, and most others have some degree of
toxic potential, accute and chronic. We can use liner
glazes that have almost zero potential or a lab to
determine the glaze safety. I have done this often and
often I have been more right than wrong. But there's
too much fear mongering and not enough scientific
evidence being used. It appears to many people that
these materials should all have a skull and cross
bones on them when most of them are found in many
foods we eat common house items to include paint, it's
everywhere. Water level testing by a certified lab for
evauluating comes back to mind again. I think I
remember once when John H. said we are not in the
suppliment business, and we ain't! But you are going
to get suppliments one way or the other no matter what
you do and you will get them even from the best glazes
out there. Lets look at reducing the numbers for food
bearing surfaces and love each other enough to believe
we must first eat off our own wares before we put them
out for our guests. Common sense would dictate to me
that I would be paying attention and anty up a little
spare change to check out my latest invention for a
glaze but only after I investigated several methods of
beating the glaze up with acidics and house-hold
testing first. Ron Roy has preach this over and over
and done a swell job! If you can't keep lemon juice in
it for a few days then what can you keep in it, cotton

Do wear gloves and use a mask when 'you' as a potter
are handling these materials and putting them into
suspension. You are more prone to problems than anyone
else by not practicing sanitary methods and are more
likely to come into contact with excessive ammounts of
potentially damaging materials than those who would
possibly mis-use your wares. The choices get thinner,
label all wares as non-food bearing items or test them
correctly or get out of the business it the fear of
your art is scaring you to death. Liner glazes can't
help you if you aren't enjoying your trade and
learning from it and believing in your ability to
produce better wares than what was being produced a
few years back using even colorant oxides as part of
the compound. I am not going to walk around with
dimercaptrol in my pocket just in case.

We are all learning. We will never stop learning. Fear
of the unknown brings out the worst in people. Fear
can also lend a helping hand in knowledge and kindle a
better understanding between people once acceptance
and agreement is eventually reached, but is it being
reached. There's still some very positive things about
the use of these materials when handled correctly and
fired right. It is part of our trade, lets embrace it
and find out as much as we can to stay healthy
ourselves and provide better materials without getting
in a ball over it or trying to out-do the next person
or sell something. Knowledge can be gleemed cheaply
and testing is your duty based on your end use. I
could go on and on for days about copper and it still
wouldn't help. I hope everyone reaches a point of
returning to art and allowing these un-founded fears
to be checked as needed (not a full time job) and left
alone when not. The archives are good but not always
correct. Just look up copper dangers, toxicology and
then compare them to water level contaminates, lemon
test then lab test and see where you stand when the
dust settles. We can't resolve it all in here, its not
the place.

And while plastic pipes are beginning to be the newest
thing to use for water transportation, we will still
get whatever is in the water unless our Earth has been
totally swept clean and purified and we all believe
all treatment plants are getting straight A's in their
reports and each employee and lab consult has done a
perfect job at decontaminating our most blessed item
we need, water.

Bill Edwards
Edmar Studio and Gallery

From the list -
Copper competes with zinc for absorbtion in the
intestines. As society moves away from galvanized
pipe (reducing the zinc in your system) the SAME
amount of copper exposure can be more dangerous. And
in the anecdote you relate about the copper in the
water vessels killing the bacteria, please remember
that bacteria, you, and your dog are all living
things. If the anecdote is correct, the effect exists
precisely because of the toxicity of copper.

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