Safety Warnings

Page: 3

Fire Retardant for Show Tablecloths:
The Phoenix Fire Department gave me this "recipe":

7 oz Borax (laundry soap aisle at Supermarket has it) added to 2 quarts warm water. Make a paste of 3 ounces Boric Acid (pharmacy has it) and add to above. Wet cloth & dip in the solution. Hang to dry. Must be re-done after each washing.

Notes from Debbie's personal experience: MESSY MESSY MESSY!!! Use a large bucket and work outdoors! Use a stick to stir the solution which likes to clump and not mix in well. Hang soaked cloth to dry outside. This will make it stiff when dry, so you'll need to iron it. Next time, I will look for commercial spray-on retardant or search for material such as that used in Children's Pajamas (must be fire retardant by law.) Some shows allow the disposable plastic tablecloths in lieu of fire retardant cloth ones. Check with your show promoter.

Debbie Jones

Fire Retardant: CIMTA requires that all covers be fire retardant. Several years ago they suggested several different ways to make your table covers fire retardant..
1. A Borax and water mixture sprayed on the covers. I don't remember the exact formula.
2. Fire Retardant Interior Spray (for unfinished wood, fabric & paper) - water based non- toxic - Reorder #702032 - Fire Project Safety, Inc., P.O. Box 14342, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. Phone # 1-800-468-2876 .

Eileen Vernon

Lead and Pewter FACTS:

As one of the first people to respond to Kris' question regarding sanding her new lead miniatures prior to painting, I have watched with great interest the many posts regarding lead, and recently pewter. This issue is too important for me not to post one more time. The following information is fact, based on research of accepted scientific material.

1. Lead *CAN* be absorbed through the skin. While pure, metallic lead and its inorganic compounds are absorbed in only negligible amounts, the organic compounds of lead are *readily* absorbed through intact skin.
2. Exposure to lead through inhalation and ingestion (for instance, breathing the fine dust created when sanding an object made of lead, or eating something or touching the mouth while the hands have that lead dust on them) are considered the two most dangerous forms of exposure. Its a lot easier to get a dangerous dose this way.
3. Pewter rarely contains lead - but it *can*. A worldwide standard exists for pewter that requires it be at least 90% tin. Unfortunately, that's where the standard ends. The other 10% can be any metal. Most manufacturers of pewter today recognize the lead hazard, and few use the metal in their products. Most pewter is composed of about 90 to 97% tin, with the remainder being copper, antimony, and/or bismuth.
4. There are many other metal alloys in common use for making the miniatures we all love. Micro-Mark, for example, offers several different low temperature casting alloys, some of which contain lead, and some of which don't.

These are not my opinions, or personal experiences, or anecdotes. These are the scientific and medical facts. Again, I'm not trying to be an alarmist. You can work with lead safely if you have the need. Always wear gloves and a high quality respirator (and I'm not talking about one of those cheap paper dust masks). Minimize dust as much as possible, for example by shaving the flash off with a craft knife instead of sanding or filing. Thoroughly clean the work area immediately and dispose of any waste material safely. Wash your hands well (Yes, even though you were wearing gloves). And no matter how well you heed these guidelines, never, ever let anyone, especially a child, "play" with these items. They should be considered in the same "adults only" category as any other hazardous item, and treated with appropriate care.

So, now that you know, you can ask your dealer what metal is used to make the items they are selling. If they don't know, assume that there *might* be some lead in the item. Try to avoid lead if you can. Better yet, let SSers lead the effort to educate dealers to only sell lead free metal miniatures. Let's face it. Minis and kids just go too naturally together. Its too easy to have a tragic accident, as related by some of our fellows SSers recently.


lead tester kit: When I was making porcelain dolls and ordering supplies from a ceramic company I bought a lead tester kit. It was just a liquid that would change color when placed on the object if it had lead in the glaze or contained lead. I wanted to use it on old dishes to see if they might leach out lead when acidic foods were put in them. I also had bought a number of old china paints and wanted to know which ones contained lead. Might be useful if you have some mini items you are not sure about and are planning to give them to a young child. has an inexpensive lead tester kit.

Jean Day

Lead Web Sites:

In summary, avoid the use of lead, and if you must handle or work on older lead items, be sure to practice safe housekeeping/hand washing etc. Especially avoid grinding or mechanical sanding! We don't want people to become paranoid, but at the same time not become complacent, just educated as to the dangers and taking extra precautions.


SAFELY Melting Candle Wax: Donna, you really took a chance putting wax in the oven. Thesafe way to melt wax is to put the dish/container in a pan of water on the stove top. Never directly on the burner. The boiling water will melt the wax safely.

I have made my own miniature candles this way by using a piece of thread coated with white glue so it's stiff. Dip this in the wax then in cold water. Continue til you have the size you want. To get fancy with green wax (yes, I save all my votive residue), then take a toothpick and pick up some wax and lay a drop against the candle, working around from bottom to top. You'll have a miniature candle that looks like a Christmas tree.


Soldering: I used to do stained glass and made a few things with copper tubing and brass channel framing. I found the materials more difficult to work with than the normal soldering on the copper foil tape that is used to connect the glass pieces. The copper tubing and brass channel framing are thick and require quite a lot of heat applied to them before you can melt the solder. If they're not sizzling hot,the solder melts, puddles up and rolls off.

{1}The metal MUST be truly clean. Any oxidization, finger oil, or dirt on the surface will prevent the solder from adhering. If the metal has been exposed to air for any length of time and has dulled, it is oxidized and needs to be polished with steel wool before you solder.
{2}When using a liquid flux,use a BRUSH, do not dip the soldering iron into the flux, which is a major toxin hazard.
{3}Remember that soldering is dangerous and please work only with adequate ventilation.
{4}Never keep food or beverages near your soldering station.
{5}Always wear safety equipment, especially on your hands and eyes.


Polymer Clay Information: If you need to know more try   or  both these sites carry links to many others. Safety is common sense and information.

Jacquie Hall, Essex, U.K.

Ironing with light bulbs: Please be very careful with hot bulbs. When I was a teen (and yes, I can remember back that far) I read in a magazine about making one's bedroom smell good by spraying cologne on a hot light bulb. I tried it--it exploded, and I was standing there barefoot in a suddenly dark room with thousands of glass shards on the floor around me, screaming for my dad.

Judy in northern Michigan

Saving your sight: When I work on the really small silk gauze I put a dark or black piece of fabric on my lap. This allows me to see the holes in the gauze much easier.

Elise in Va

SHARP things: It can be a nightmare losing a craft knife, needle, razor blade, etc. if you work in an area others will be using (especially a couch.) I have finally learned to put a glued piece of velvet ribbon (it can be anything like that) on craft knives so they won't roll, and I keep a magnet near where I work so it is easy to put items back on there...OR use it to 'vacuum' around the couch and floor when I realize something is missing. I also keep a flashlight nearby, as that sometimes catches the 'shine' of the needle or pin, etc. when I am looking. Still, it is easy to misplace a straight pin, so try to get in the habit of putting things like that immediately back on top of the magnet.


Rolling Xacto knife: Go to a stationery shop and get yourself a pencil holder for each knife. Its a triangular thingy that you put a pencil through to teach kids to hold their pencils right. This will stop those rolling knives.


Rolling Xacto knife: The relief for the rolling off the desk problem is easy. Get an eraser tip for pencils. You can find a couple of sizes at "anymart" to fit the handles you have. Put the eraser on the top and it will help keeping the tool from rolling. (By the way, many mini-tool suppliers will sell you things to do the same thing, except they will cost more.)

Dave Brazelton

Rolling X-acto Knives: Simply wrap a rubber band around your knives a couple of times and they won't roll around. Rolling/twisting them can also help you "get a grip"

Connie Baird, Arizona

Rolling X-acto Knives: Just a quick thought for the problem of rolling Xacto knives and tools: a friend sent me some tools with thin strips of suede leather glued around the handles. It wasn't thick enough to be bulky, and did not roll any more.

Paulette in Indiana

Cuts/Scratches: Here's a tip for anyone working with sharp objects (or who has un-declawed cats, lol!): I always keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide close by. If you get a cut, minor burn--or cat scratch--*immediately* dowse the area with hydrogen peroxide. It will clean the wound and has antibiotic properties. Afterwards you can dress the wound with the antibiotic cream of your choice, if you choose (and when you change the dressing, hydrogen peroxide will tell you if it's infected or not--if it foams, the wound's infected). If you do embroidery or handsewing, it'll also take blood spots out of white fabrics (keep it away from colored fabrics, though). Handy stuff, and it's cheaper than dirt.


Safety: Karen wrote: "TIP*** When its late and you're tired - GO HOME!" I'd add something else to that. I work next to a large window under daylight, and most of my accidents happen between the fading of daylight and turning on the artificial light. So - turn on the artificial light before you think you'll need it!

Lynne Connolly P.I.

Eye strain: just had to ask. But were you talking about wearing contacts and mag eyes? Or were you talking about wearing contacts and your regular glasses? Because I've had 2 eye doctors tell me to not do either one. It will cause your eyes to go worse. Of course the mag eyes will cause a strain after awhile, too. You need to look off in the distance every few minutes. The older you get the greater the strain. I've been told to relax my eyes often, because my eyes have been strained too much over the years. Sorry to go on about this, but, I wish I knew then what I know now, about eye sight.

Larita Wilson

Electric Problems: I would like to caution the people who are having problems with the electricity in their dollhouses to please unplug the transformers from the wall when not working on the dollhouse. If they aren't working properly, they could start a fire. I'm sure you know that, but just in case. I think sometimes we think those little tiny lights are harmless, but they can start a fire.


Exterior Glue: Aleene’s Platinum Bond Patio & Garden Outdoor Adhesive is water resistant, expands & contracts with the temperature. Works on terra cotta, cement, rigid PVC, wood, resin & pottery. I like this item. Only down side is the fact that it comes in a tube and I hate tubes. Use good ventilation. I clean my fingers with alcohol swabs.

Becky Holliday

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