Art-making is pretty safe compared to other hobbies. Mixed-media jewelry, however, has some risk involved. That’s why an overview of safety tips is one of the first things that Barbara Lewis, author of Mastering Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry. “Working with fire and powdered glass has some inherent dangers,” she says. “Let’s see how we can protect ourselves and still have a good time.”
Sounds like a plan to me!
|The Color Wheel: The Way I See It in Thompson Enamels by Barbara Lewis. Pre-Order Mastering Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry today and get the Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry eBook FREE with purchase!|
Making Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry: 4 Safety Tips by Barbara Lewis
• Ventilation: Good ventilation is a must! You need an exchange of air—out with the old, in with the new! But it needn’t be high tech. A room with cross ventilation provided by a wall of windows opposite two open doors was perhaps my best former teaching location outside my own studio. The flameworking studio at the Painting with Fire Studio is a long, narrow room. The room is perfect from the standpoint that all students sit with their torches facing the wall.
However, obtaining adequate ventilation proved to be a challenge. A state-of-the-art ventilation system was designed so that each student has an exhaust vent that pulls 300 cubic feet per minute away from the torch. Internet research via lampworking sites provided a wealth of information that was synthesized to create an ideal experience in our studio. Be sure to conduct your own research before you begin torch firing.
|Wearable art by Barbara Lewis|
• Burns: Burns in the studio are usually minimal. More students burn themselves touching a hot bead than any other way. It happens so simply. You’ve got a bunch of beautiful beads in a bread pan that you can’t resist looking at, and you think you remember which bead went in last. Ouch! Such burns are not serious, but it does teach you a lesson. Wearing form-fitting cotton clothing is also recommended when working with an open flame, and keep long hair tied back. Singed bangs aren’t fun either!
• Eye Protection: Clear safety glasses are a good choice. However, if you wear eyeglasses, they may be sufficient protection. Sunglasses can reduce light intensity. But stay away from welding glasses. Even the lowest shade prevents you from seeing the sweet spot of the flame.
Speaking of seeing the flame, too much natural light is your enemy. You will NOT be able to see the flame if firing in natural light. Trying to find the sweet spot of the flame will be impossible. If you must fire outdoors, set up an area where the flame is shielded from sunlight.
• Mask: Since we’re not sifting enamel, airborne glass particles are greatly reduced. If you want to be extra careful, a 3M™ Particulate Mask 8233 is a very comfortable and inexpensive mask. Remember to wipe down your work area with a damp cloth and/or wet mop to avoid stirring up enamel particles. ~B.L.