The unsafe public glassworking studio

Go to almost any glass forum and you will find stories about bad studio experiences. They range from bad (or no) ventilation to “don’t give a damn” teachers. So, what can you, as the prospective student or space renter do to ensure a positive experience?

Here’s a check list of some of the things to look for when you first visit a studio, prior to spending your money there:

  • Fire extinguishers located near the exits and throughout the studio, also marked with signs
  • Emergency exits clearly marked and not blocked
  • Master shut off valves for propane and oxygen easily accessible, marked and visible in an emergency situation
  • First aid kit visible, marked and easily accessible
  • Signs indicating where the phones are (for 911 emergency phone calls)
  • Do you smell obvious “torch” odor and/or combustion fumes — this is an indication of inadequate ventilation. Odors that are transient will happen in the best of studios especially during torch lighting, but continuous odors are unacceptable.
  • Is proper eyewear provided or do you have to provide your own? Are loaners available? Boro classes should have proper boro eyewear and not use soft glass eyewear.
  • Is there sufficient lighting in the studio area? Can you see easily without “forcing” your eyes?
  • Are there waste glass cans easily accessible for cleaning the workspace?
  • If music is being played, can you hear what is going on, or do people have to shout in order to be heard?
  • If the classes or rental time is at night, is the parking lot/street well lit and is the owner willing to provide escorts to your vehicle?
  • Is the owner/supervisor/instructor approachable? Are they willing to do discuss how a technique can be done safely?
  • Ask questions about how the studio operates
  • Ensure that all of your questions are answered to your satisfaction

Things that should be discussed prior to space rental and/or teaching sessions (note that some of these may be part of the class, but in any case, sometime during your session, you should be informed of these things!)

  • Torch safety discussion – how to light the torch, how to turn the torch off (POOP or POPO)
  • Adjusting your chair for maximum comfort
  • A discussion about the need for proper eyewear including what the potential hazards are
  • A discussion about proper ventilation and the fumes from the glass and torch
  • If the class is going to be working with frits, the use of dust masks at all times
  • Proper access to the kiln: calling out if you are on the way to the kiln to inform other people that you have a hot item in your hand
  • That mis-behavior is unacceptable and will be dealt with immediately

By all means call around to friends and acquaintances and find out about studio conditions and what the teacher is like (if you are taking a class).

You are the consumer and will potentially be spending a lot of money at this facility. It is your right to be in a safe location that is operated in a safe manner.

Some of these items came from lengthy on-line discussions with others, as well as my own experiences as a studio owner. I am grateful to all who helped put this list together.

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One thought on “The unsafe public glassworking studio

  1. Pingback: Lofty words with little substance « Chaotic Glass by Mike Aurelius

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