Safety Warnings

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Using Batteries: Before anyone uses batteries to make suitcases or other items for a miniature scene, please keep in mind that batteries tend to corrode over time. The acid inside the batteries can leak and cause great damage to anything it touches. Small wooden shapes would be a much better base to use for suitcases, and you wouldn't have to worry about battery acid.

Mary in MS

Using Batteries: For the person who wants to turn 9v batteries into suitcases...don't do it. Batteries corrode with age and spew nasty acid stuff. Better to just get a small cut off block of pine, or layers of foam core, or Styrofoam, or anything else...but don't use the battery or you will be unhappy somewhere down the road!

Bonnie Gibson - Tucson, Arizona

Using Batteries: Batteries: I hate to put a foot down on a creative idea (mainly because it goes against my basic nature), but using the 9 volt or any battery for a project should be considered very carefully. The battery may be dead, but there is still "stuff" inside, which over time and heat etc., may leak out. A dead renewable battery in my caller id ruined it because the casing cracked, leaked and dissolved the contact points. I would just hate to have someone find a dead battery leaking caustic agents over their hard work. Also please please please *DON'T* even think about cooking a battery!!!!!!! I cannot hit that exclamation key enough on this one. Heat may cause the casing explode. I wouldn't want to see anyone get hurt.


Fimo: Micro-waving Fimo? It is strongly recommended that this is not done. Fimo is essentially a moldable plastic that, when heated, forms bonds and becomes a solid. Microwaves do not heat in the same way as a conventional oven, and the clay simply won't cure in the microwave. Add to that that microwaves are notorious for hot spots, and the clay (actually plastic) may lead to a melt-down disaster (fumes are highly toxic!). An oven will serve you better in the long run. Many people invest in 'fimo-only' toaster oven that they can set up on a porch somewhere, so there is lots of ventilation.


Lighting: Adrian and others using or planning to use night lights, or Christmas Village lights for your displays. CAUTION!!! Be sure the bulb doesn't touch anything they DO GET HOT!!!! I figure if it burns my fingers it might burn my display. I purchased 4 very large enclosed bookcases from a mini store that closed and discovered very badly burned spots on each shelf from *Christmas type* bulbs. Of course the owners had the displays with the lights on for hours but still----would hate to think what might have happened if that wood had actually smoldered for a night. SAFETY FIRST PLEASE! I have used the fluorescent bar lights in roomboxes they come in a variety of sizes from 6", 9" and 12", I think. and they are made for bookcases. Come in white, black, silver and gold finish. They even have one that swivels.

Diane in SFBA

Plastic thingys from pill bottles: Dessicants: it comes in containers or small bags in pills, among other things. Well, do be very CAREFUL. It is very bad - dangerously so - if a pet or a child (or anyone) consumes one, with or without the holder. If a child opens one and eats it ... off to the ER for sure.


Copper reaction:  For those considering using the copper window making stuff for wiring, I  thought I read somewhere that you should wear plastic gloves when  working with this material to avoid some kind of nasty reaction.


The problem with copper,is that it leaves super minute cuts in the skin and those are "infected" with something from the copper so for awhile you lose the feeling in those fingers. Not fun. I solved it by wearing little pieces of tissue paper wrapped and taped to my fingers as I could continue to work that way. That was about a hundred years ago and latex gloves have now been invented so use them and all will be well. If your hands get hot, cut the gloves down a just want the area touching the copper covered.

Laurie Sisson

Cir Kit Transformers: Each transformer has a stock number on it. 1009A will light up to 16 GOW bulbs, 1009B - up to 10 bulbs, 1009C - up to 33 bulbs and 1009D up to 64 bulbs. This is according to their catalog. And even tho they are now circuit-protected, I use a lead-in with an in-line fuse just for added protection. And all of my transformers are plugged into the power bars that are also fuse protected.


HEALTH ALERT: using metals>> They are pot metal and you have to sand down the flashings.   <<PLEASE DON'T EVER SAND METAL!   Tiny particles of lead stay in the air and you breathe them....lead poisoning? They can't wash out of your lungs. Wear plastic gloves, a mask, and use a small tube of metal to push/burnish the flashings down. Clean your area thoroughly with rags for this purpose only and dispose of them. NEVER eat or drink when working with metals.(You can't with a mask on anyway.)  

You pushed the old girl's buttons again. Please be careful with craft materials, a miniaturist is a terrible thing to waste.

Laurie Sisson

Filing/sanding Metal: the white metal used today has a miniscule amount of lead in it, so lead poisoning is minimal - the most likely damage to your health is the   tiny particles of metal that could get into your eyes.   It is always a good idea to use safety glasses when filing or sanding white metal models as well as a dust mask.

It is good practice to use a dust mask when sanding anything as most dust is a hazard anyway.  

David & Joyce Betts

Unsticking ones self from Super Glue: Keep a bottle of acetone (nail varnish remover) around, plus some cotton swabs (q-tips or something equal). I believe there may be a desticker product out there now as well that crazy glue puts out. If you get your fingers stuck it is the first impulse to rip them apart -- resist this impulse, as you could literally rip skin off one of your digits. Dab the area with the acetone, and be patient while it works, you may have to dab it for awhile. It will eventually dissolve the bond, or at least soften it enough that you can extricate yourself from the sticky situation;). Your fingers may feel a bit dry and scaly for awhile, but it is better than a gaping wound.

Word of warning -- if you find yourself with a finger stuck on your eyelid, anywhere on your face, etc., GO TO THE DOCTOR. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO UNSTICK YOURSELF. You could do serious damage. Don't worry about embarrassment, it is fleeting and one day you will laugh instead of cringe, but a ripped surface that needs stitches or surgical intervention will have evidence for a very long time, and we don't want acetone getting anywhere near the eyes.

Kim (dire warnings a specialty) From Canada

Removing cynoacrylate glues: Added by george Sally's Husband DO NOT USE Z-7 Debonder, nail polish remover or ANY other remover to REMOVE FROM EYES, LIDS ETC..... GET PROFESSIONAL HELP IMMEDIATELY....... When using any remover follow ALL INSTRUCTIONS IMPLICITLY....... SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS;

George Hoffman

Super Glued fingers: I've done it and I was ready to just leave the crystal bead, my thumb and fore finger stuck until it it came apart on it's own. Nothing worked and I tried so many things my fingers were sore!. I will not use super glue without my bottle of "Kwick-fix super glue remover" on my table, ready to be used. You can get this at some craft or hardware stores. I also admit to being stuck to-gether more than once.

Helen, San Di

Super Glued fingers! In the past when I have managed to glue my fingers together with Super Glue I have used one of three products.
[1] Debonder........sold in 1.5 to 2 ounce bottles in hobby or Railroad supply stores. Made to use with Zap-A-Gap and other cryocylanate type glues. Learned about this one when I first took a Brooke Tucker class. Expensive but worth keeping on hand.
[2] Acetone........available in the paint section of hardware stores. This the straight 100 proof type not diluted as in polish remover.
[3] Polish Remover with acetone base............still available in drugstores and beauty supply stores. Have to read the label to be sure that it says with acetone.
[4] When ALL else FAILS it's time for a trip to the hospital ER and "a bit of old fashioned doctoring".
Start with the polish remover first it's the weakest form of acetone. If that doesn't work try the Debonder which should work. As a last resort try the straight acetone.

[1] To thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after using any of these products as the skin does absorb a certain amount of them. Repeat at least three times to be sure of removing all traces. Your hands may feel "dried out" but avoid using creams for at least 12 hours to allow all the removal product to ventilate out of skin.
[2] Keep the products close by when working with Super Glue. The glue sets up too quickly to be looking for them "after the fact".

Patricia / Redwood City, CA

Super glue, zap a gap: With all the talk about super glue and getting stuck I thought I would mention another problem with it. I have been making dolls and miniature dolls for about 16 yrs. Have always used zap a gap to attach the pipe cleaner armatures to the porcelain and to glue other non porous surfaces. No problems for a very long time. Then about 3 years ago I started to get "spring time allergies" or so I thought. Seems like I always had sinus problems before a show or class. Well, it took quite awhile to figure out I had developed a sensitivity to the zap a gap fumes! Swells the sinus to 10 times natural size (well, ok, this is a rough figure).

Jill Castoral

Glass Bottles from Christmas Lights: [  

 Do you have to do anything to the glass parts that come out the outdoor Christmas lights to make them into bottles?]

Just remove them carefully, Kathy!   The broken glass from those lights can be very sharp.   I recommend using safety goggles and putting the bulb inside a paper bag -- then tap it gently with a hammer.   The outer bulb will break, leaving the "glass bottle" inside.

You have to work the "bottle" loose, because it was originally attached to the outside bulb, joined to it inside the metal screw base.   After the outer bulb is broken, I usually break off any excess bulb that remains with needlenose pliers, sort of crushing it.   There are small wire leads into the "bottles" which can easily be cut, twisted, or just broken off.   If you have a Dremel, you can sand the bottom of the "bottle" to make it smoother, but you would certainly need safety goggles for that.

These "bottles" can be painted with Gallery Glass, and would look great on a shelf in an apothecary's shop (like up on the wall behind the counter).   Any irregularities on the bottom of the bottles can be hidden that way.

The "bottles" on my PictureTrail site are just as they were removed from the bulb -- no sanding, etc.   You can still see the wire leads on a couple of them.   Once they're painted with Gallery Glass and mounted on shelves, you won't notice the metal leads or irregular bottoms.

Anita Myers

China painting - I'm no expert, having only china-painted dolls' faces, but I'll share what I do know. You can china paint scenes on china with the same paints that are used for dolls. I have both Seeley's and Bell ceramic china paints. Both are fired at cone 018. The labels on the paint bottles or jars usually give this information. Just to be safe, don't use any new paints along with your vintage paints. Or fire on the vintage paints first, and then do a second firing using newer paints(if there are special colors you want to use in the newer paints). Once it's fired on, it's very hard to remove, so I can't imagine any bad reaction between the two if they're fired at different times.

If you don't want to be worried with firing, there are translucent stains for china painting that are not fired on, but look very much like the fired on.

Paulette in IN

Lead: I work for a pipe organ builder, and the industry extensively uses lead for most all of the metal pipes. We have two people called "voicers" or pipe makers,   who take lead sheets and form them into pipes, solder on them, use files, rasps,   knife blades etc. Some of the voicing includes blowing air into smaller pipes to test them, while they shouldn't many in the trade use their bare lips.

They work with this lead all day 5 days a week and have for many years. One who was in his 60s when he died from a heart problem during the flu, had annual blood tests and was never elevated. The other has been a pipe maker for over 25 years and has had no problems.

Lead enters the body only two ways; ingestion and inhalation, it cannot be absorbed through the skin! What usually happens is people handle lead and then in some form or other eat a sandwich, or handle something then food, bite their nails etc. What actually happens is they are ingesting small amounts of lead or lead oxide. With lead that has become wet, it starts to corrode a little and you see a white powdery substance on it,   THIS is very dangerous because it can be inhaled.

I suspect the poster who mentioned the lead shot in a box on her desk probably from habit occasionally put some of these tools or pens etc in her mouth (this happens a lot in offices and why you see pencils and all with nibbled tops) since the items were in lead, some of the oxide or dust got on the tools and into her mouth. There have been extensive writings about lead in the organ trade with concerns about it, but most of the terroristic claims about lead are extreme, some "alerts" I have seen will have you believe that just looking at lead will cause lead poisoning!

Lead is a toxic metal yes,  but it can't jump off the counter into your mouth, somehow it gets there is you don't follow basic precautions. If you WASH your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling it as the voicers do, carefully clean up  any filings and then wipe the counter or work surface down with a damp rag you throw away, you will be safe.

There IS a  chelating drug given for lead exposure and it removes lead from the body as long as it's still  in the BLOODSTREAM. Like anything, some people are more sensitive to certain chemicals etc and some not, children tend to be overly sensitive to everything toxic.

Pipe organs have been built with extensive use of sheet lead since the middle ages, I have yet to hear of anyone in the trade these days with health problems from the lead, but then most all follow basic hygiene and careful handling.


Lead miniatures. I was told by the director of adaptive technology at Stout University, that lead enters the blood stream through the skin simply by handling lead objects and even by handling things that have been in contact with lead.   I found this out when I had a work station assessment done. One of the objects I keep on my worktable is a small container of the smallest lead shot available.   (Shot is the tiny lead balls inside of shotgun shells).  As lead is very heavy, it makes a nice holder in which to stand up small tools and brushes.  The tiny balls keep little tools upright and handy.  I was shown that the handles placed in contact with the lead carry a good deal of lead to my hands where it enters the body right through the skin.   Breathing in lead dust is also hazardous.

Lead is a heavy metal and once it enters the body, it stays there. There is no known method for getting it out.  It is proven to cause brain damage and to affect fetal health and God only knows what else.

The moral of the story?   There is NOTHING WRONG with working with lead miniatures so long as you do it safely.

When handling unpainted lead, wear surgical gloves until it is painted. Never sand on lead objects where particles will be left on your workspace or in the air.   Never sand lead objects without wearing a high quality face mask.

Until I was diagnosed with a severe chronic illness, I never considered the effects of these kinds of exposures. We work with so many different products and materials, that it's just best to overly careful.

Kathy in Wisconsin

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