Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Respirators and the Pottery Studio...

Strapping on that respirator should be second nature to potters, sort of like buckling your seat belt when we get in the car... but many of us have some bad habits.

Last month a company that makes face masks contacted me, via e-mail, after coming across this photo on my blog. They make a less cumbersome mask and if they sent me one, would I review it? I would never say no to free stuff, especially if it could be useful! The company is called RZ Mask, and when I went to their website I saw motocross riders, hmmm... do they know I am a potter? I explored the site and realized that they are expanding their market to industries outside of motocross and ATV riders.

This is what their mask looks like:

Smaller, lighter AND I can wear my glasses with progressive lenses while using this mask! When using my other mask, I have to switch to my old reading glasses and they still are not comfortable.

The mask is made of neoprene and straps on quickly with a velcro closure. The neoprene fits snugly around your face and doesn't get sweaty feeling like the rubber mask. Jeff tried it on and he thought the fit was good around his beard.

A replaceable filter attaches to the inside. The RZ mask rep sent me specs that said it will filter out particles as small is .1 microns. My Survivair mask filters out .5.

It even comes with a zippered storage case.

Since getting the mask I have used it mostly for spraying glazes and once for mixing a bucket of glaze. I really like how it comes on and off easily. I still felt a little claustrophobic wearing it but it was much better than my old mask.  The best thing was there wasn't a build up of condensation inside the mask (ick). I was a little concerned that it doesn't create as tight a seal as the Survivair, but I have to tell you that there have been more times when using my old mask, I would suddenly have fogged up glasses, which means I didn't have a tight seal anyway. I am constantly making adjustments with the old mask and it's a pain to put on and take off.
I will probably reach for this mask more quickly when deciding to do a little clean up around the studio. I will often times skip the mask because it's just a quick scooping up of some dry clay, and it's too much of a pain to put the bulky one on. I stupidly say I will hold my breath instead!

My old mask cost about $70 a few years back. The RZ mask is $29.95 and replacement filters are $6.95. They even have some cool designs to choose from! If you need to replace your mask or find you aren't wearing it as often as you should because of it's bulk, I recommend giving this one a try.

**If you are looking for more information about respirators in the pottery studio, here is a link to a Ceramics Daily article written by Jeff Zamek.


  1. Thanks.A mask on your face is worth 10 in a drawer.

  2. Oh that looks much less cumbersome than the one I have, hum, I don't use mine that awful much but if I need a new one I know where I'll get it.

  3. I like it, and at that price I could have one at my home studio and one at Mudfire (where I teach). Thanks!!

  4. Definitely looks less cumbersome and like Lori, I have two studio spaces and never seem to have what I need in the right place. Definitely would consider one of these. Thanks for the info.

  5. Looks good. Thanks for posting this. I wonder how it would work around my beard and mustache. Always a problem. But the glasses thing could be a big help.

  6. Hollis, Jeff thought it was a better fit around his beard than the rubber mask one he has. I know that most masks say you really need to shave off the beard to get a good fit... I don't think Jeff will be doing that anytime soon!

  7. this looks like it would work very well- I hate the mask but if I make Mark wear his I have to wear mine.

  8. It's a bit Hannibal Lecter looking, but I have to say, it looks way better than the cumbersome thing I wear! Hey, maybe they could offer a blogger discount if we all ordered one! and throw in some fava beans, haha!

  9. Love it! Any other colors?! ;)
    Your first photo is how I feel in my mask- crazy! Your summary of the "old" mask is right on. Great to see an innovative alternative. Thanks for doing the review.

  10. Tracey - ha ha ha... it is very hannibal lecter looking! no wonder i got hungry wearing it.

  11. I love this! Do you know if there a difference in the different masks they sell? I definitely want to get one before my next round of glaze making.

  12. Thank you, linked from Emily Murphy. Off to buy one of those now!

  13. Emily, from what I understand they only have one type of mask. My brother works in an industry that his guys need to wear masks for some jobs and they need to be NIOSH approved. He called the company and they are currently undergoing those approvals and think they will pass.

  14. Thanks for this posting!! I'm checking out the masks now!

  15. How is your mask working. I don't have a mask yet and am searching for a good one

    1. I wrote an update about the RZ mask in September of 2012, here is a link to that post:\http://meeshspottery.blogspot.com/2012/09/rz-mask-update.html
      I have gone back to my original big mask that I purchased from Sheffield Pottery.


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