There are several things that I want you to be aware of when you're deciding whether to take up lampworking or not. I would feel irresponsible if I didn't point out that you are running safety risks in these three areas: vision, respiration, and burns.
You will need a good pair of safety glasses when you do lampworking. Not only will these protect your eyes from flying glass shards when your glass rods (occasionally) explode, but they will also give your eyes long-term protection from the intense light emitted by molten glass and the open flame. If nothing else, the right pair of glasses allows you to actually see what is going on in the flame by filtering out some of the brightest light that occurs from the melting process (called soda flare). Look for either Didymium or AUR-92 lenses.
The second concern is ventilation. Because of the potential release of CO, a deadly and odorless gas caused by incomplete burning, you should definitely have both a CO detector nearby and also good ventilation. Dust particles from your bead release, fiber blankets, vermiculite, enamels, and other glass additives can also be a long-term issue. Again, good ventilation is essential, and there may be times when wearing a dust filter is also a good idea.
The most obvious danger, and a short-term one at that, is getting burned. Hey, there's an open flame and there's hot glass...it's pretty much going to happen at some point. Glass rods can shatter when heated too quickly, or if they have a fault in them. Protect yourself by wearing your glasses, of course, but also by covering up most exposed skin with cotton clothing. Don't wear synthetics...they will MELT! Watch out for loose flapping clothing, and also please tie your hair back if it's long. Always assume that everything you have on your work top is hot, because items like your glass rods retain their heat for a long long time once they're removed from the fire. Keep aware of your surroundings and where everything is.
Do I need to say please have a fire extinguisher handy? And it's also a good idea to run through how you will move and react should something catch fire.
Copyright 2010 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.
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