Safety Warnings

Page: 2

Handling lead: For the SS'r who asked about the problems that lead presents? If you sand lead, inhaling any of the dust can be dangerous, in fact the USA has a department to answer any questions you may have: The following hopefully is of use:

The National Lead Information Center (NLIC) provides the general public and professionals with information about lead hazards and their prevention. NLIC operates under a contract with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with funding from EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Their phone number is: 1(800) 424-LEAD [5323].

An American doctor, Bruce Lanphear presented the results of a study where he had found that children with blood containing LEAD at the levels now considered safe scored an average of 11.1 points lower on the Stanford-Binet IQ test than a control group of children with blood that contained amounts of LEAD that measured 1 microgram per deciliter or less. The ingestion of LEAD by children is usually caused by inhaling LEAD dust or eating chips of LEAD paint, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LEAD-based paint was widely used in the painting of homes until its manufacture was banned over twenty years ago. Currently, the most common childhood exposures to LEAD are found in older housing. High levels of LEAD poisoning can result in mental retardation, convulsions and coma. For additional information, contact the following sources:  Environmental Protection Agency: Just be aware and take adequate safeguards!


Handling lead: Lead poisoning is serious business and the warning on your instructions probably isn't strong enough.  In fact, if you have handled a lead item, you should never touch food or put your fingers around your mouth until you have washed your hands well.  Sanding the item increases your risk of exposure as you will be creating fine lead dust that is easily absorbed by the body.  By all means work carefully.  Wear skin protection, such as latex, vinyl or rubber gloves, as well as a good quality respirator so you don't breath in the dust you create.  After finishing, clean your work area well, being careful not to stir up the lead dust and spread it around your work area only to be stirred up again later.  And then wash your hands well again, just to be sure.

I hate to sound so alarmist, but lead poisoning can be deadly.   Please be careful.


Handling lead: DO NOT SAND LEAD!  This stuff gets into your lungs and food and is poison. Any imperfections should be smoothed down with a round, metal tube (some pens or dental tools work well for this) keeping the particles out of the air and out of you and your family. Then prime and paint.

Additionally, Avon makes a product called Silicone Glove that you can rub   onto your hands like cream but it coats your hands so that you can get paint or metal or whatever on them, then wash your hands and all traces of mess come off easily. Highly recommended when working with metals.

Keep in mind that many things when used other than their original use could cause heating plastics that cause a gas by product or sanding metal... A miniaturist is a terrible thing to waste!

Laurie Sisson

Coal: For what it is worth: I have smashed the black fish tank gravel and have learned two things. 1 - it has very sharp edges when smashed that cut sock, floor, etc. And, 2 - it is not black inside.


Silicon Health Warning: I'm trying to get caught up on my digest reading and missed the original post. But, yes, Lesley, it is my daughter who became seriously ill after ingesting a silica packet. When Amanda was only 4 she ate one of the packets (possibly two) out of a shoe box. I emptied out her mouth, thinking I caught her in time. The following year she began to display some unusual symptoms. Skin rashes, vomiting, aching bones. We were told the rash was ring worm and the other was normal stomach upsets, growing pains, etc. It wasn't. A year and half went by, countless doctor visits and finally a diagnosis -- Progressive Systemic Scleroderma which is often triggered by silicon.

She has endured surgery, treatments, special diets, therapy, and enough blood work to kill us all! No one should spend that much time at the doctor's office and hospital. Amanda is under the care of doctors ofdermatology, gastroenterology, opthamology, endocrinology, rheumatology and various surgeons. We've spent more time at Duke University Hospital than the workers it seems! Scleroderma can be a potentially deadly disease, and we are grateful that she is doing so well. We were told at the time of diagnosis (by a less than kind doctor) that from onset of disease she had seven years to live and the time she had left would be difficult at best. That was nine years ago next month! The latest symptom is her deteriorating vision. In one year she went from 20/20 to needing bifocals. PLEASE, PLEASE do NOT use silicon in your minis. Your children, grandchildren and pets are at risk! Miniatures are a wonderful hobby I dearly love, but they aren't worth your health.

Michelle in South Carolina

Dremel: For ease and safer way of using a Dremel rotary tool.  I have used   the flex shaft offered by Dremel for many years. Using Flex Shaft handpiece I don't have to hold the awkward tool itself instead I hold a 1" diameter handpiece with choice of bit in chuck.  

MicroMark`s Page:    ( If you choose a flex shaft choose "Dremel" made)

With the stand (on this page holding Dremel, flex shaft.

MicroMark`s Page:

and using a speed control (on this page) it allows you to give a lighter touch and better control.

With my work piece in a vise:  or ???

The Dremel drill stand; It is a low cost entry level accessory for the Dremel rotary drill, but with lots of patience it will achieve marvels.  Somewhere Dremel offers a table top holder for the Moto Tool with a swivel, sorry I lost source.

Some of your project pieces you can hold in your hand while using handpiece.

Note;   Just like brushing your hair, if you brush against grain hair will stand up.....  therefore if you push tool against grain the tool will kick back. Try to go with grain, however there are times you have no choice, so use lighter pressure.

NOTE ! Using the circular saw chucked in Dremel "Freehand" is a VERY Dangerous way to use it. Only use in drill press or some other controlled set up

When using any power tools ..... listen to them, after using them over time you will hear when they are running correctly or straining and when straining. trouble is coming either a jamb, kickback or a bad finished product

=== Curious George;   Just what kind of things are people trying to accomplish with a Dremel tool?

I see that at the Tom Bishop Show in Chicago they offer workshops  (unfortunately my try this AM would not open site). If you check offerings it would offer new tool users a great opportunity to get some hands on basics from the workshops.

Most of the woodworking classes offered at the IGMA Guild School use other type tools than Dremel rotary. Tools such as "Overhead Shapers, Cameron drill press’s, wood and metal lathes, table saws etc.  

You can with patience make something with a hammer and screw driver, but a tool designated for a specific purpose does it so much easier, faster more accurately and far better quality of finish.

George Hoffman ~ IGMA Fellow

Beware Of Super Glue: I see a lot of people posting about the use of Super glue, and I just had to post this. This was one of THE scariest things that's EVER happened to me! A lot of plastic mini kits recommend the use of super glue (cryoacrylate). In retrospect, it's funny, but at the time...

I was putting together a Chrysnbon organ. I decided to use the fine tip attachment. I was not exerting undue pressure. Nothing. The glue shot out at an angle. (Not the first time I used the tip either!) It was beyond belief...It hit me square in the eye. Instinctively...I closed my eye. And it stayed that way. Big Time. I was absolutely horrified!

Ended up in the ER, attending physician had to "pry" a hole in my eyelid big enough to insert an irrigation catheter. It took hours to loosen that crap up with saline. When he finally cut away the glue, and got my eye open, he removed my contact lens...It had melted. Melted! (hard lenses, not gas permeable mind you!) He told me it was a miracle I had the lens in when it happened, because I would've needed reconstructive corneal surgery if it hadn't hit the lens. When I look from side to side, it's still blurry sometimes, but my straight on vision is OK. PLEASE WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WHEN WORKING WITH THAT GLUE! I refuse to use it at all, now, safety glasses or not! Yeah, like I said in retrospect it's one of those quot;stories" my sisters manage to tell at the Thanksgiving dinner table: "Remember when that crazy Sherise glued her eye shut? Only Sheri!" Yeah, but not so funny if it happens. If you do use the glue, use glasses, please! A good alternative to cryoacrylate glue is Craftsman's Goop (holds better, too...I've noticed superglue loses it's integrity after a few years...) I never thought something that IDIOTIC could happen, but it did.


Paper for Flowers:   I use large rolls of a thin paper I get at a drafting store. It's thicker than tissue (which I also use) and thinner than most tracing paper, which you can use.  You must paint your papers.  I use Design Masters paint for everything but the leaf paper, and that is only because they don't make the shade green I want.  I buy custom mixed latex wall paint (I'm allergic to latex which is a major reason I've discontinued the kits) and I spray it on the paper with a large paint sprayer using an air compressor. You can use a foam roller for small projects and it won't create such a mess.  I go to Sherwin Williams for my paint.  I even paint the tissue paper.   I know you can get it in colors, but they fade.   Painting is a mess, my garage walls look like a modern art project gone wild.   When using these paints, ALWAYS wear a carbon mask filter rated for the paint, you're asking for serious lung troubles otherwise.

Diane Foster, The Colony TX

Forming acrylic plastic: While on a different search, I happened upon this site which has some very specific explanations about plastics and working with acrylics at home:'s.htm   My eyes lit up when I saw it, and though I don't have any immediate plan for it myself, I am fairly sure that among these talented SS-ers there are several who will.  I checked the SS archives and couldn't scare up anything on the topic because "acrylic" is so often used in connection with "paint".  The writer on the above site doesn't include any warnings other than to wear gloves, but I can't help but imagine there will be fumes, as with the oven-baked clays, so please be careful.  I have seen acrylic sheets in various dimensions at the home centers.

Rosalind Perantie

Feathers: Your feathers probably do not have any living creepy crawlies as most of these things need blood to survive. If you are still worried, take your feathers outside on a calm day (no wind). If you are really squeamish, wear rubber gloves. Dump the feathers in a coffee can. Saturate a few cotton balls with an insecticide spray and place the cotton balls in with the feathers. Cover tightly and leave for about a week. This will take care of any living creepy-crawlies. DO NOT USE A PLASTIC CONTAINER! The insecticide sometimes melts the plastic. As far as cleaning, sometimes you can use a warm water with a SMALL amount of detergent to wipe them. Do not dunk them, they are hard to make naturally looking again. Usually all they need is to be "married." This means joining the little individual fibers that form the feathers back together again. If you look at the feather closely, you will see little "barb like" protrusions on each individual feather fiber. Don't get discouraged, you do not have to each feather individually. Just take the feather by the big shaft end and gently smooth the feather in the direction it grew out of the bird. The feather fibers usually will go back together again and look good as new.


Hospital gatherings: BIOHAZARD! "Many are just dropped on the floor, however, I did raid the trash can for the mini tubing from his IV saline"

I'm retired from nursing, but when I was a nurse...boy, the only way I can put it without being vulgar...Suffice it to really don't want those things. They are MAJOR biohazards. There is a large distinct group of infections (called Nosocomial infections) that simply arise out of having been in a hospital...(working there, visiting).

If you are truly intrigued by the items, find a nice nurse, AFTER she's had her coffee, and isn't charting...and ask her for what you might want...that hasn't been used. Don't be afraid to tell her why. Depending on the facility, she might be able to help you...(some facilities have charge out slips on equipment, even the smallest they might not be allowed...) It all depends. Don't count on hypos or anything...but she might be able to help you.

Seriously, I would NOT want anything from a hospital...even if it was new...they are germy germy places! And the used stuff! Yikes! Unless you have an autoclave in your best advice would be to make a running start for the nearest Biohazard bin, and get rid of the stuff! Then wash your hands with Hibiclens, and rubbing alcohol. Sure, they look neat, but a bad case of pseudomonas is a high price to pay for some cool looking downspouts, hon.


Oily rags and fire hazards: When you have finished with a rag or cloth that has been used to apply oil to wood, and maybe you've thrown it on the floor or put it in a waste paper bin, something magical takes place! As oil oxidizes (is exposed to air) it generates heat. If the rags are covered by anything else, the heat can't dissipate. It therefore can build up and cause spontaneous combustion. (Catches fire without any other source of ignition.) There are two precautions. (1) spread the rags or cloths outside in the air to dry overnight, or (2) soak them in a bucket of water before you dispose of them.

Peter, West Sussex Woodencraft

Safety:   " latex caulk ... squeeze it out and smooth with a wet finger."  Read the  container and make sure it is safe to touch.   If not, wear gloves.


Fumes: I have to jump in on this one.  I know for a fact that polymer clay has harmful fumes for birds.   Birds cannot tolerate fumes of any kind.   I didn't know this until two months ago, when I lost my parrot over night.  I had stained some pieces and set them out to dry in my workroom....the same room I keep my birds in.   He died the next morning.   My vet told me that birds can't tolerate fumes and especially deadly are paint fumes, and the fumes that come off of Teflon pans that are allowed to get too hot.  That was a surprise!   He told me not to use house chemicals, paint, or moth balls in the same vicinity of my other bird.  I hope none of you ever has to go through the loss of a pet because you didn't know about this.

Carol Wagner

Fimo fumes, my youngest granddaughter is mildly asthmatic. I have learned I cannot bake my Fimo within 48 hours of her visits and always have to air my kitchen out by opening the windows for at least on hour. While the fumes are nontoxic to the healthy in a well-ventilated room, they seem to cause problems for anyone with breathing problems and are detectable by them for quite a while after baking.


FIMO cooking times: Polymer clay is a combination of chemicals, they are activated by heat and combine to form the clay in it's baked state. You MUST cook it for a minimum of 20 minutes or the chemical process will not complete, as polymer clay is 'live' until cooked not completing the cooking correctly is potentially dangerous. The temperature of your oven is important, never bake at higher than 130c it will not cook quicker!! this is not cake mixture here it's as near to rocket science that we mini makers get!!! If you're using a pale clay try lowering the temp. just a teeny weenie bit, no lower than 120c.If your stuff is scorching try using a shield of baking foil, cover the delicate pieces with loosely wrapped foil, the foil will diffuse the heat so baking times must be observed. Your average oven takes at least 10mins to reach the set temp. you need at least 15mins cooking time after that, 20mins is the barest limit. Not cooking your clay minis properly can result in them crumbling and falling apart later on, please remember the manufacturer has to conduct rigorous tests on the product before it goes on sale, he/she does know what they're talking about. As a final note, I use polymer clay every day and I have only had one scorching mishap, using my cooker oven and switching the temp just a bit too high. I now use a toaster oven with the temp set at 130c and I bake everything for 30 min.

Jacquie Hall

Birds and Clay: FIMO, Sculpey and Premo are not in fact clays. They are a non-cured form of PVC. They do indeed give off a fume as the plasticizers that are one of their ingredients (listed as hazardous by OSHA) "cure" in the oven. Nan Roche, polymer clay artist and expert, in her book, "The New Clay" says to keep small children, and all pets, ESPECIALLY BIRDS, out of the room where you are baking clay.

Polymer clay is a wonderful medium, but as a clay artist myself, I ask you to please refer to the book referenced above, contact the manufacturer as someone else suggested, and when in doubt, don't.


dollhouse bathroom furniture recalled: posted here in case anyone bought this...

WASHINGTON (AP) - A Minnesota company is recalling about 10,000 sets of dollhouse bathroom furniture because yellow paint on the furniture contains lead, putting children at risk for lead poisoning.

XL Machine Ltd., of Eden Prairie, Minn., has not received reports of any injuries relating to the furniture set, the Consumer Product Safety
Commission said.

The Little Tree natural wood dollhouse bathroom furniture sets contain a tub, sink with mirror, toilet, shower, bench, towel rack and a wooden doll. The doll has hair made of yarn and wire legs and arms. The fixtures on the furniture are painted yellow.

The packaging for the set reads ``Little Tree,'' ``Distributed by Target Corporation,'' and ``MADE IN CHINA.'' Target stores nationwide sold these furniture sets from August 2000 through June 2001 for about $15. The safety commission advises consumers to return the furniture sets to the Target storewhere they purchased them from for a refund.

For more information, consumers can call XL Machine at 1-866-746-8097 between9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CDT Monday through Friday.

On the Net:
Consumer Product Safety Commission:
AP-NY-08-21-01 1722EDT

Pat in SC

Health Issues: Folks, I'm pulling out my old soapbox for this one. The stuff we work with like glues are the things that are killing teenagers because they sniff it. We just lock ourselves in our rooms and work ourselves sick because we are...working.

Please be aware of every bottle and jar you open. Take a minute to read it. How many hours do you sit with the nail polish open, coating things, letting them dry? Paints? What kind? Sprays...OUTSIDE and leave it there. Just give every media a quick read and take it outside or to the garage to paint and dry.

I finally got my Asthma diagnosed at age 50. No one in my family has ever had it. Remember, a miniaturist is a terrible thing to waste. You get to learn what I didn't.

Laurie Sisson

Silica Gel Warning: Silica gel is a wonderful desiccant, but PLEASE be careful with it. Silica gel is poison! Silica gel comes in shoeboxes, purses, etc. If ingested, results can be terrible. When my oldest daughter, Amanda, was small she ate packet of silica gel from a shoe box before I saw her grab it. I managed to fish most out of her mouth, but unfortunately, not all. Called the poison control, they thought all would be okay. One year later she began to have some odd symptoms for a 4 year old. Two years later (and many misdiagnosis in between), she was diagnosed with a devastating disease called Scleroderma, a connective tissues disorder, that is potentially deadly. One of the
possible causes is a family tendency to rheumatoid arthritis (which we have) and an exposure to Silica. Yes, you can get Scleroderma without being exposed to Silica, but it will increase the odds. Please, please be careful with small children and pets with this stuff. We learned the hard way and Amanda still deals with the consequences. Thank God, she is still alive. When diagnosed, we were told she would have 7 years to live at the most. That was 8 1/2 years ago! I don't want to discourage anyone from using Silica to dry flowers, bees, etc.; I just want to make sure you know what you are getting into.

Michelle in South Carolina

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