John Ahr recently shared an excellent video on the 10 Things to Never Do in the Jewelry Lab. Many of the points he covers are indeed the same as the safety rules in scientific laboratories. The instructor is a metal smith so many of the don'ts are for other metal smiths. However, good practices also apply to other areas of jewelry making. So the following is my additional tips.
Wire workers should wear some sort of eye protection - I wear glasses so that counts. Snipped wire pieces do sometimes fly. John Ahr did not mention aprons although he wears one in the video. Aprons protect clothing. I started to wear one when I work with resin - a lesson learned after a drop of resin ruined my favorite pair of pants. Aprons are also a good idea if you work a lot with paints and other pigments.
If you work with glass ie lots of cutting etc, you should wear eye protection AND consider wearing shoes rather than open sandals. And never barefoot! In fact, proper shoes is a laboratory rule as you never know what you might spill or step on.
There are different types of masks. I do wear one when I am using my rotary tool to say file down resin. I like the N95 masks which filter out at least 95% of very fine particulates - they are often used in polluted cities. Wear them properly otherwise they won't do their job.
I also wear protective gloves depending on what I am doing. The best kind are nitrile gloves which are more resistant to solvents than the regular sort. I used to wear nitrile gloves when I was working in labs. I also invested in a pair of work gloves for cutting up soda cans etc!
John just briefly mentions avoiding messes. There are sound reasons for keeping things tidy besides being able to work efficiently. Cap everything well after you are done. I am always careful with my isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) bottle. With cats in the house, a spill will be disastrous. If you have small children around, then all chemicals, glues etc should definitely be stored safely away.
When you are done for the day, turn off heating plates (metal clay), pickle pots and put away potential hazardous tools. Yes, even your beading needles. I know someone who accidentally stepped on a needle in her bare feet and had to go to Emergency to get the needle out (it broke inside her foot!) Ouch.
Many of us use items which are also kitchen tools or containers. Once used for jewelry making, these stay in studio and are not to be used for food preparation ever again. My old toaster oven is now only used for shrink plastic and polymer clay. I also keep separate rolls of foil, wax paper, plastic wrap, paper towels in my studio. It is not just for the convenience but because my hands may not be that clean when I am handling these rolls.
Storage and Disposal
Make sure you store flammables in a cool place. Also do some research before you dispose of any chemicals like spent liver of sulfur or the contents of the pickle pot. Pouring saturated copper solutions down the drain is a no-no - it could contaminate drinking water resources and harm wildlife. Nancy Hamilton has an excellent page on pickling notes.
Did I miss anything out? Share your safety tips in the comments below.
Before You Go:
- Is Renaissance Wax Safe to Use for Jewelry?
- Tips on How to Use Boiled Eggs for Metal Patination
- Gun Blue vs Liver of Sulfur Patination
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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