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RedintheShed 2020-03-14 2:59pm

Is it normal to be nervous as a newbie?
Hi All,

I'm new to the site and lampwork although I have been fusing glass for about 3 years. I decided to try a hot head and enjoyed it but I'm very risk averse and the heat of the fitting against the mapp canister made me uneasy. I now have the basic Bethlehem running on propane and oxygen concentrator.
The problem is I'm constantly terrified the whole thing is going to blow me up. My husband is an engineer and set it up and checks it and I follow all usual advice but still the fear persists.
I just wondered if it's normal or if anyone else experienced this and if it improves.
I do love it when I forget about my fears for a few minutes so I want to get on top of it.
Thank you

Croft Eeusk 2020-03-14 4:37pm

Yup, very normal.

Fire & gas & flying glass! Oh My!

You'll get more comfortable the more you practice, but there's just a primordial thing in the back brain that still comes out 'Ooook!!' as far as fire is concerned. Just be aware of where your flame is at all times.

And, face it, it's not if you'll get burned it's where, when, & how bad - closed toe shoes & no low cut shirts are very good ideas. Hot glass trapped between you and clothing can be, well, a real pain.

Some glass colors are more likely to make frit bombs in all brands. Some folks stay away from Devardi for that reason even though they have some lovely colors; numerous threads here on that topic - I've never used their glass, so am not an expert on that fact.

That said, I've never really been burned bad enough to keep me away from the addiction, but do always keep an aloe plant growing. There are several threads on here about the best burn meds. as well.

Welcome to LE. Have fun!


echeveria 2020-03-14 5:19pm

I was very nervous to hook up and light my first real torch. The Hot Head did not really scare me, but we had used one in my beginner class. I invited a bead maker friend over to hang out and give me advice, and she said "you just don't want to blow up the place all by yourself!" But it was all ok. It is good to have a healthy respect for it all. Just learn the safety protocols, and then follow them.

And hopefully your propane tank is outside?

Eileen 2020-03-14 5:21pm

I certainly was! Plus I had my annealing kiln for months before I would turn it on!

Hopefully you will come to trust your equipment, but safety is always to the forefront - or should be. You will get used to it though as you use it successfully. I try not to ever get so confident that I forget to be careful though.

Eileen 2020-03-14 5:22pm

And check out the threads in the safety room; ventilation and eye protection are musts.

KEW 2020-03-14 6:56pm

I made my DH light my HH the first time! I was terrified despite the fact that I had used one at a private class.

RedintheShed 2020-03-15 1:34am

Thank you for your replies, it's reassuring as I could easily talk myself out of doing it. My studio is a little summerhouse but I have the following safety precautions:

Propane (6kg cannister) goes outside when I'm working, in when I'm not
Regulator and flashback arrestor on tank
Stainless steel work bench
Concrete board wall covering
Fire extinguisher
Safety glasses
Long cotton sleeves/trousers
Hair back
Leather apron
No food/drink
I don't yet have ventilation set up, in case I am useless at it so I wear quite extensive commercial grade breathing apparatus which I wear when working powdered glass. I will ventilate but need to be sure I will continue before spending any more money.

Apart from that, am I missing anything? Every time I hear the slightest change in tone on the oxygen or torch I must resist the urge to run and dive behind the nearest hedge!

Thank you

echeveria 2020-03-15 6:55am

Sounds like you are covered except for ventilation. I would not bring my propane inside though. I keep mine out on my deck at all times. You can put a trashcan over it if you want to give it some protection from the elements. Edited to say: the risk to bringing it in is that the tank or regulator will leak when not in use, and propane will pool on the ground and have no means of dispersal. I get the impression you are not in the U.S. (KG instead of LB) so don't know if the propane where you are is treated to make it smell? It is really easy here to smell even the smallest propane leak, so I think you would know quickly if your tank had leaked while you had it indoors.

Speedslug 2020-03-15 6:56am

You mentioned safety glasses.

Are those the didymium (sp) kind that reduce the yellow flare so you can see what you are doing in the flame?

You will feel more comfortable as you get used to 'doing' it.
Kind of like driving.

You want to give your self time to develop muscle memory so your mind is not constantly tracking every little thing so just play with it for a while without expectations or worry.

Your DH has a vested interest in your well being so trust him to have set it up to be safe for now.
But ask questions even if you fell like you are being a pest. Ask both your DH and us.

There is a search function at the top of every page on the forum as well as one that searches only the subsection you are in (but that one is part of the drop down list under "thread tools".

Be sure to put "quotation marks" at the beginning and ending of multi-word phrases or the search will give you a list of every instance of each individual word before it attempts to list multi-word groups.

You really don't want a list of every comment that has the word -glass- in it or -kiln-.
And you need to add an * to words with 3 letters because the search thingy needs at least 4 characters to work.

Welcome to the addiction.

Robin Passovoy 2020-03-15 10:51am

Caution and even fear when dealing with fire and sharp objects is perfectly acceptable. That's your instinct for self-preservation talking, and as such, should be respected. Glass is wonderful stuff whether it's hot, warm, or cold-worked, but it is by no means a safe or forgiving medium.

Croft Eeusk 2020-03-15 11:23am

Just so you know you're not alone ;)

This is part of a Thank You email I sent to Corina Tettinger in 2010, after starting in 2005, where I called her my #1 Enabler. Because her book is really the main way I learned the how-to of lampwork.

She wrote back afterwards to tell me she was still laughing.

'I want to thank you for a frustrating day. No, really. Thanks. I went down to my studio this morning to make a birthday gift for a friend. Absolutely nothing went right. The bead release was too thin; two beads may be plant dish fodder. Every bead I made, once I set the release next to the kiln for an hour while I had lunch and it thickened up, fought me like the dickens. Aaauuggghhhhh! So I gave up on the gift idea and decided to just play with a new technique. Should have known better; must not be the day for me to be working with hot glass. Tried the 'use the scissors to cut the glass and spin it open' thing. Very interesting. Until I tried to cut the second one when it was just a little too cool and it shattered. Into my lap. Where upon I jumped up, whacked my head on the vent hood, saw remnants of bead sizzling on my chair [ok, warnings were made about clothing one should wear - but never did I think about what the blasted chair was covered with! Yech, the smell of melting nylon.], automatically got it off with my scissors, getting melted gunk on them and bashed my head again on the hood.'


Eileen 2020-03-15 1:39pm

If you want to laugh away some of your nervousness, here is a thread where many "confessed" the dumb things they have done as new bead makers. I remember it made me feel better to know that I wasn't the only one to do those things, and that all those people survived their mistakes and could laugh about them later.

rainygrrl 2020-03-16 8:38am

DJ, I love your description of your frustrating day at the torch.

Eileen, thanks for linking to that thread. It is one of the great ones!

Bentley 2020-03-16 10:09am

When I put my first set up together I did all the safety tests and was ready to go, then sat there for an hour scared to light the torch. You are normal.

ESC 2020-03-16 11:56am

I was even afraid of firing up my kiln for many months after I got it. It's absolutely normal and you should be more afraid if you weren't afraid of lighting the darn thing. It gets better and easier. I do demos every now and then and people always jump when I light the torch and I'm always like "what?!".

Speedslug 2020-03-16 12:48pm

One thing I had not mentioned earlier is that I set up a small mirror so I can see if my wife comes up behind me.

What with my vent fan running and my head phones on jamming to late 60s and 70s rock and roll, I never hear her calling me and when she touches my shoulder I jump.

Jumping or flinching with molten glass on a stick in one hand and a rod of freshly melted glass in the other is not highly recommended.

I also learned from Bear Foot Arts youtube videos that having a small mirror angled so I could see the underside of the flame helped me a lot because I seemed to have a depth perception problem after a few minutes at the torch.

Lorraine Chandler 2020-03-16 5:34pm

Ahhhh yes, I remember it well, the newbie dreadful excitements before every torching time. It will get better. :waving:

For the times when you get a piece of shattered glass rod stuck somewhere on you, there are peeps that swear by using live aloe vera plants. Some people use Silvadene cream, I use ice and then Solarcaine spray. Works for me.

Some people have sensitive skin and get face, arms and neck sunburn after torching so they use a high SPF makeup or face lotion to help.

I also use Kevlar sleeves. Luv em.

Warming up helps. Start with just pulling stringers, making twisties and if your muse is with you and playing nice go for it. If not call it a day and try again later.

I do not even try to do any of the crafts I enjoy unless I am feeling it. If I am distracted or not feeling 100% I do not go near the torch. I will choose to do something else. Clean beads, clean up the studio, rearrange glass rods, sketch up some bead ideas or color combinations or just sit and read Lampwork Etc.
Stay safe, have fun and enjoy your new hobby

rainygrrl 2020-03-17 9:42am

Lorraine, thanks for mentioning not to torch when tired or distracted. I do the same.

Phill, where do you position that mirror to see the underside of the flame? I should try that. TIA.

RedintheShed 2020-03-17 2:22pm

Thank you for such fab replies, some made me

RedintheShed 2020-03-17 2:25pm

I hadn't finished typing... Some made me laugh but they all made sense. I feel a bit reassured because I have enjoyed it so don't want to let the fear stop me. The comment about driving was really helpful, I remember being a new driver and being terrified that I would die every time I got in the car, now I spend about 40% of my work life driving so that gives me hope. Thank you all, fingers crossed. Stay well

Eileen 2020-03-17 2:39pm

Take care, and soon you will be feeling much better about things so you enjoy it more.

Speedslug 2020-03-17 5:17pm

Roberta, the mirror that shows the underside of the of the torch isn't much bigger than a compact and I built a tiny tri-pod to hold it at something like a 45 degree angle.

I have it set off at about the 10:30 position so that my arm doesn't block my view of it.

You'll have to find the spot that works for you.

Here is a good video of one in use;

rainygrrl 2020-03-18 8:11am

Thanks Phill, I can’t wait to try this!

ginger2 2020-04-13 11:32pm

If you have a good relationship with your primary care physician, have he or she call in a RX of Silverdene cream for any burns you may get from the torch. It's kept me out of the ER many times. (my dog does drive & I used to lampwork all night every night.) Seriously, keep that on your table as well as easy to apply banages & you'll be one tough superwoman!
Just go for it! You'll be so glad you did!

ginger2 2020-04-13 11:33pm

Sorry, meant to type my dog doesn't drive!

Larysa 2020-04-14 7:43am

Your dog, superhero :)
I can recommend knit cotton gloves from home depot. Just cut finger tips from them. It feels better when your hands skin has first line protection from the heat.

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