Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Safety First

If you've been drawn to the flame, chances are you've had some really 'DUH" moments. Moments that have disaster written all over them. I'm sharing with you some of my Duh moments in hopes that you'll avoid them yourself.

  • If you are using a c-clamp to hold your torch to your work table, periodic checks to ensure the clamp is secure is a must!

It goes without saying that safety is first and foremost the biggest concern. Sometimes I get too complacent and forget to do a mental check list. Ensuring that my torch is securely adhered to the table is the first thing I check now. A couple of months ago, my c-clamp had worked itself loose and had fallen back on me while lit. I was lucky that my reflexes where quick that day. Of course when being chased by a flame, I think all of our reflexes kick into over-drive. I wasn't hurt/burned but it could have ended bad. This incident was by far the scariest thing that I've encountered since lighting the torch the first time.

  • Never wear a brimmed hat while at the torch.

It's hard to judge the distance from something on top of your head to the flame. I lost my favorite hat by sticking the brim in the flame and catching it on fire.

  • Never scratch your head with the end of a glass rod.

Often times, while at the torch, I find myself in need of an extra pair of hands. Inevitably something will start to itch (nose, neck, head, etc.). With a mandrel in one hand and a glass rod in the other the logical choice would be to use the glass rod because the other is, well..... hot. Do not use the glass rod. It's sharp! I've done this a total of 3 times (hopefully the third time was the charm) every time ended with blood trickling down my neck. Okay, one time I scratched my nose, but that's too embarrassing to mention here.

  • Always wear non-flammable clothing.

Cold glass is shocky when introduced to a hot flame. Glass chips fly off and is extremely hot and has the potential to catch things on fire. Those chips can also find their way inside clothing or shoes. Tank tops and flip flops are not a good thing in the studio.

  • Chairs with wheels are a good thing.

Although not a requirement, having wheels on the chair you sit in is a good idea. It makes for easy escape should a bead or hot glass find it's way in your lap.

  • If you smell something burning, check that it's not you.

This is the mantra in my studio. Often times I'll wake up, grab a cup of coffee and head to the studio in my pajama's without bothering to comb my hair. The "rat's nest" that has formed on the side and back of my head while sleeping, is a disaster waiting to happen. It's a catch all for slivers of hot molten glass. You'll smell it before you feel it. Never let the smell of burning hair go unheeded. It will turn a bad hair day into a bad hair month!

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