Flameworking SafetyThe Vinery wants you to know how to safely operate your torch! Please take the time to read this information before practicing your bead-making at home!
Wear cotton clothing and closed-toe shoes. Pull long hair back away from your face. Keep a pair of heat resistant gloves nearby!
It is absolutely necessary to protect your eyes with didymium or ACE 202 glasses, which filter ultraviolet light and reduce sodium flare. If you are working with borosilicate glass, we also recommend Boroscopes, which are available as separate glasses or a clip-on.
There is no real limit on the amount of space you need(as small as a closet will do!), as long as you follow a few simple precautions. Choose a location with cement flooring, or use a non-combustible floor covering (ie: cement backer board). Remove any flammable items that you don’t immediately need for your bead-making activities. Tightly cap all flammable containers and store them in another room or in a flammable liquid storage cabinet. Have any natural gas lines checked for leaks. Keep a fire extinguisher close, and remember to check often to make sure that it’s functioning.
The size of a comfortable workbench is about 2’ by 6’. If you intend to stand while you work, (for example, when using small MAPP Gas cans) your table should be about waist high. If you are going to work while sitting down, your table should come up to the middle of your abdomen. Use a flame-resistant work surface that covers at least the flame-working area of your table, if not the entire table. Avoid surfaces that contain asbestos and avoid sheet metal as it conducts heat. Try fitting your entire table with a moisture and flame resistant concrete board (also known as Dura-Rock, Wonder Board), which is installed smooth side up. Choose a chair that swivels or a stool so that you can back away easily in case of emergency.
If you put your workbench up against a wall, the flame should be at least a foot away from the wall. Cover the wall with concrete board (see above), allowing ˝” behind the protective covering for ventilation (use non-combustible fittings). You can paint this wall space black to make the flame more visible using heat resistant wood stove paint, or cover the wall with black, non-combustible tiles.
Have your light source above and slightly behind you. You might consider using a daylight-balanced fluorescent bulb, or a chromolux incandescent bulb. These will allow you to see the true color of the glass.
Clearly an industrial ventilation system is ideal, but unfortunately it’s not practical for most hobbyists. Work near a window, with the window open and a fan blowing away from your workstation, towards the window. Some gases are heavier than air, which means that they may accumulate near the floor. Consider having an additional fan near your feet that also blows towards the window.
Build a rack near your worktable that is attached to the wall. Hold bottles securely in place by stringing chains from the rack around the bottles (if you eventually use oxygen tanks, these can permanently remain in the rack). Allow room for additional bottles, but ensure that no bottle can be knocked over. Keep bottles from banging into each other. Pick a shady, dry location away from furnaces, hot water heaters or other possible ignition sources. Do not store fuel in living space. Propane tanks, specifically, must be stored outdoors when not in use, at least five feet away from any source of ignition, and no closer than three feet from the opening to a structure. This is a good general rule for any type of fuel. Do not enclose the tank on more than two sides, and protect it from the weather. Note: Be aware that MAPP Gas reacts explosively with copper, silver and mercury.
Torches and gas tanks should be stored disconnected. Prevent damage/leaks by carefully protecting both the torch head shaft/washer and the top of the fuel tank (replace protective covering after use) when assembling or disassembling your torch. Carefully listen and smell for leaks after screwing your torch head on. After disassembling in a well ventilated area, listen, smell and feel for leaks on the top of your gas tank. Remember to close the valve on your gas source before detaching the torch. Discard empty cans in an appropriate place. Never try to burn or puncture them. If you are ever uncertain about leaks, bubble test your connections. With the torch valve open, paint a mixture of dish soap and water onto the areas where the valve opens and where the torch connects to a fuel source. If you see bubbles, you probably have a leak!
*Note* You can find this information and more in James Kervin’s book, “More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Glass Beadmaking” (2003, GlassWear Studios).
Disclaimer: No warranty is implied by these instructions. Use at your own risk. Keep all supplies out of reach of children. Please link to these instructions freely, but email us if you would like to reproduce them.