Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ten (or so) Things You Shouldn't Do With Glass

Ok, so I'm assuming you've gotten the general rundown on the safety rules of working with hot glass. You know- wear proper eyewear, ventilate properly, and wear a mask when needed. Please get a good book or go to if you don't know about these things and be safe!
I'm here to tell you about a few things I have done wrong, and a few that my pals who work with glass have told me they've done. Some stuff you may not find in those books:

1) Do not put fiber paper in your kiln after it's hot- it will catch on fire. I think it's the binder in the paper that makes this happen. If it does, turn the kiln off and close it tightly to block air flow, and it should go out. Yes, I did this.

2) Don't put a cold bead directly into the flame. It will explode. You may, if you're much more patient than I am, be able to slowly heat the bead back to working temperature. I don't even recommend trying. Just start over.

3) Don't wear nylon, polyester, or other fabrics that are not natural. They will melt when the hot glass hits them. Then it sticks to your skin, and that hurts.

4) Don't wear false fingernails. Ok, I didn't do this, but a friend did, and it wasn't pretty. Remember, the fire on your torch is hot. VERY hot!

5) Don't use a lighter with fuel in it to light your torch. The fuel is flammable, and if you lay it on your table it can catch fire. Again, a friend did this- I was just lucky. Use a flint .

6) Don't wear flip flops or sandals. Ok I break this one all the time, but I also get pieces of hot sharp glass stuck between my shoe and foot, and have to fling the shoe across the room while I whoop and holler.

7) Don't let your poor dog, or cat, or child, lay at your feet- especially on your dangerous side (the side the glass is most likely to fly). Eventually a piece of glass will get lodged in their fur or hair, and smolder down to their skin. And then you'll be very sad. Ok, it really doesn't matter which side they're on, it's a bad idea. (Yes, I did it- poor pup)

8) Don't try and unscrew your torch right after you've used it. It's still hot- so are the glass rods you've just used. If you are cleaning up your table right after you've finished torching, remember this. It's the real reason some of us have such messy tables- we've been burned so many times that we've given up on cleaning. Like Pavlov's dog! I can't believe I almost left this one off!

9) Ok, this is kind of three in one. The following rules apply to hotheads. I don't know the specifics when it comes to an oxygen propane system, since that's not what I use, but I know that draining the line is ALWAYS recommended.

a) Don't leave the tank on, especially if it's in the sunlight. There will be some very weird flames if you do. And it will take you a LONG time to get the line drained again. And it might scare you- I know it did me.

b) Drain the line. Again- weird, high, bad scary flames.

c) Don't put a large tank or a small one in a really hot water bath. Same reaction as above. A pretty warm one is good for a little screw on tank. You shouldn't need one at all for a larger tank.

That's it for now. I'll let you know the next time I do something really bad. And I'm sure I will!