Toxicity and hazards questions, health-safe resources

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jamberrysong wrote
on Mar 21, 2011 9:47 PM

Hey!

I have a few questions for you folks who use vintage tin and annealed steel wire in your designs (and for you folks who refuse to use such things). It's pretty trendy right now, but I've been concerned about things like rust, tetanus, lead content in old tin and other metal components and crystal (found objects, essentially), and the toxicity of coatings on annealed steel. My family says I'm paranoid, but you know, your health is nothing to mess with. These things are rarely mentioned in the magazine articles, and reading on Google just feeds my paranoia. So I figured I'd go to the people who work with this stuff. What are your experiences with these things? Do you use anything to seal these materials? Have you heard any of your customers complain about things like this? Have you refused to use certain materials because of something you read or heard?

I DO have some health-safe resources to share!

A very talented jewelry artist on deviantart shared this fabulous tutorial about using safe, home-friendly, natural sulfur in hard-boiled eggs to oxidize jewelry: http://szilviabead.deviantart.com/art/Oxidizing-jewelry-tutorial-123006121 which is fantastic for someone like me, who is afraid to use liver of sulfur.

In place of gilder's paste, I've found that acrylic paint dry-brushed or lightly sponged on can create a similar look on polymer clay or metal components. It does require a sealant to prevent chipping off, but there are many safe ones on the market.

Soldering can be dangerous and cause toxic fumes without proper ventilation. I've read in several places that a safe and friendly alternative is to use aluminum metal tape to attach wire loops to pieces or to create bezels. You can find this at your hardware store; just use a burnisher to press out all air bubbles and make a sturdy, complete seal.

Working with resin can create similar hazards. There are several glues and sealants that can be used in similar ways that are much less toxic, including things like paper glaze glues. A search for these sorts of materials online will turn up several brand alternatives that don't require heat and hassle.

Rather than using a volatile acid for etching or an electric-powered dremel, etch directly onto metal components using the age-old intaglio printing method of engraving with a metal tool by hand. The only things required are a double-ended twisted scriber and a steady hand; you can write or draw with it on metal just as though you were writing or drawing on paper. The only hazard with this tool is its sharp ends. However, they are easily avoidable if you are careful. You can even cover the end you're not using with masking tape to protect yourself. Eye protection is recommended. Printmakers used this sort of tool for centuries to make beautiful images by drawing directly on metal sheets of copper or zinc.

Do you have any other safe alternatives to share?

 

 - jams

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." - Willy Wonka

"It is only with the heart that one can see clearly; what's essential is invisible to the eye." - Fox, The Little Prince

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SCB1 wrote
on Mar 22, 2011 10:11 AM

I use a pickle that is safe as far as pickle go. It is a mixture of Alum that you can buy in the spice section of the store and an equal amount of tap water. If the cat gets into it it really won't harm her. And if I spill it no real harm do to the desk or the carpet. And most of all it doesn't have any harmful fumes and it is safe to even touch with your bare hands. It will evaporate if left out in the air, but you can just add more water and it is good to go again. The best thing is that it is cheap!! I paid just a couple of dollars for a 1.9 oz of it. It will last a long time for me as little soldering I do.

Happy Beading!!

Sue,

Small-town USA. 

Michigan.

 

 

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Cat_P wrote
on Mar 22, 2011 9:34 PM

Just thought I would add my two cents as well.

Anything "dangerous or toxic" used properly is typically not a problem when used and safe handling methods are followed.

The same can be said for "safe" items, when not used properly, they can be dangerous as well.

Don't want to sound like a bleep, but the truth is how things are handled is where the difference is.

Welcome to the forums btw!

Cat     Blog  Artfire  Etsy

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SEllen 2 wrote
on Mar 23, 2011 9:21 AM

jams-

This is a rather hard question to answer...

Let me first state that I am one of those persons that is extremely "sensitive" to chemicals etc. I was diagnosed 14 years ago with an Enviromental Illness and have been confined to my home. As it is the only enviroment that I can keep safe for myself. So I more than understand your concerns. And thank you for your concern.

Now having explained myself some. Let me state as Cat said that if you're using chemical processes use them according to the manufacturers instructions. Do Not use anything that has expired or is too old. If your metal working be sure to use the proper safety precautions.

Please understand that you CAN NOT PROTECT EVERYONE just use common sense and the proper safety measures. If someone is sensitive to the point that they need to go beyond the norm THEY will ask about your processes in making your pieces. Just as someone who has a metal sensitivity will ask about your earwires and posts. And whether you are willing to change them to something else.

As this has become a rather long post I will tell you that if you wish to continue this discussion off-line just go to my bio page and send me an e-mail and I'll be glad to talk to you some more.

While it is good to be aware and concerned it is NOT good to let it cripple you or your daily life.

Good Luck

 sellen Smile

southwest Texas USA

 

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jamberrysong wrote
on Mar 23, 2011 3:16 PM

SEllen 2:

I will tell you that if you wish to continue this discussion off-line just go to my bio page and send me an e-mail and I'll be glad to talk to you some more.

While it is good to be aware and concerned it is NOT good to let it cripple you or your daily life.

 

That's very nice of you!

I don't want to give the impression that I am crippled in any way by these things; I am so very, very careful that I can't foresee myself ever having a problem with anything. But I feel like if there's a safer, healthier way to do things, I would like to know. Options are good, especially ones that, in this age of cancer, will be kinder to your body and your environment. I will learn soldering, have already learned etching with acid baths and adding patinas. Overcoming fears can be very liberating, but again, in many cases there are alternatives that are just as effective, so why not use them?

It's good to be concerned about people. I never want to be more concerned with my art than with the people that it's made for. If I use a rusted tin can, I don't want to be giving tetanus to the person who will buy that pair of earrings, no matter how cool they look. And it's not just because of a possible lawsuit or anything like that, but because it's being a responsible artist/crafter. I'm sure people who are using these things are treating them somehow to make them safer; I would be interested in learning a process or two for that. So far, I haven't been able to find much on the internet. Perhaps I'm not looking for it the right way (that's usually the case).

 

"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." - Willy Wonka

"It is only with the heart that one can see clearly; what's essential is invisible to the eye." - Fox, The Little Prince

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