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Monday, September 29, 2008

Missy, could you please expound on some safety details for your readers.  I think safety is a very important detail when working with all types and styles of glass art.   I think that even Wisker would like to learn what steps you take to insure you are safe while working in your studio!





Bear, that is a very good idea!  I only touched the tip of the surface as far as safety goes!  I don't really know where to begin.   When lampworking,  glass bead makers use Didymium safety glasses, and other glasses specifically designed for lampworkers.   These glasses are sodium flare (yellow) filters.  They remove the yellow flare seen in the torch flame that happens when the flame hits metals or glass.  It allows lampworkers to see their work better.  Unfortunately didymium doesn't filter infra red to a great extent.   So that means that didymium lenses do not work well for people using kilns and furnaces, they need special safety glasses specifically developed for that type of work.  It is important for all glass workers to wear glasses when working with glass.  Even when making glass mosaics and stained glass, it is necessary to wear glasses to protect your eyes from any type of glass damage, this includes protection from flying glass shards!

IR damage is cumulative and affects people differently.  But long term exposure to IR leads to retinal burns and corneal irritations, and eventually cataracts.  Also sun glasses should not be used for any reason, they do not protect they eyes from IR.

Other safety concerns include, fire safety.  A fire extinguisher should be kept in the work area and it should be checked and maintained to insure it is in working condition.  Plus you should know how to use it before an emergency develops. 

Air safety is also very important.  The work area should be well ventilated.  I have large overhead doors that I open to vent my work area when I am using my kiln and/or using my torch.  There are toxic fumes created when using these tools.  Many people install exhaust systems in their work areas which are necessary when working in a small work area.  Also when using frit (ground up glass) it is advised to use particle masks to prevent inhalation.  These small particles of glass can become air born and inhaled!

When working with glass, don't forget to wear appropriate clothing.  Do not wear sandals!  Also if working with hot glass glass, wear long pants.  If you have long hair, you should keep it under control, somehow.  When lampworking wear sleeves that are not "flowing" which could possibly catch on fire!

Most stained glass stores and hot glass stores sell excellent safety supplies.  It is good to check online occasionally to see what new inventions are available as far as safety goes!  Safety is important and should never be overlooked or cut because of the added expense.

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