Lampworking is a fun hobby that has risen in popularity over the past few years. It is an amazing way to express yourself, and the finished pieces are almost always beautiful. Works of art created by lampworking make lovely gifts, stunning conversation pieces, and can even be sold for profit once the art has been mastered. It is the perfect pastime for someone who likes to work hard for a wonderful end product, and for those who enjoy time spent working alone on something all their own.
As with any hobby, lampworking does have its hazards. Among others, one of the dangers attributed to lampworking is potential eye damage due to shattering glass, harmful UV and infrared light, and irritation from sodium flare.
This is all easily avoidable as long as you are well-educated before you begin. Unfortunately, many people pick up the lampworking hobby without ever learning about eye safety and proper eyewear. Many people believe they are protecting their eyes by putting on a pair of clear safety goggles or regular sunglasses. In reality, neither of these things will fully protect your eyes while doing torch work, and wearing regular sunglasses may even be more harmful than helpful because they allow your pupils to open wider than usual, letting in large amounts of infrared light.
While deciding which type of eyewear to purchase may seem confusing at first, and while high-quality eyewear can be quite pricey, it is both important and well worth your time and money to purchase a set of glasses that will protect your eyes sufficiently. After all, without a good set of eyes, how will you see the gorgeous art you create?
When deciding which safety glasses to purchase, the most important question to ask yourself is about the type of glass you will be using. Artists using “soft glass” such as soda lime glass or lead glass will need different protection than those using borosilicate glass, also known as “hard glass”.
There are pros and cons to all the different types of glass, so it is a good idea to do your homework before settling on using any one type of glass. For instance, “soft glass” will melt at lower temperatures, but is much less forgiving of temperature changes than borosilicate glass. On the other hand, borosilicate glass is much more expensive than either soda lime glass or lead glass. You may decide you’d like to have the option of working with any type of glass as the mood strikes. If this is the case, make sure you are properly prepared with safety eyewear for each type of glass. Clip-on lenses are available and may make owning multiple types of safety eyewear more affordable and convenient.
Once you have decided on the type of glass you will be working with, you can check out your options as far as safety glasses go.
For those working with “soft glass”, the lens of choice is typically the Phillips 202. Often referred to as “rose glass” or “didymium”, this type of lens blocks UV light and sodium flare. As an alternative to this lens, we also offer the Sodium Flare Poly. This lens is made of plastic as opposed to glass, making it lighter and more affordable. It does the same job as the Phillips 202, but will likely not last as long, making it a good option for beginners.
If you decide you would like to work with borosilicate glass in addition to (or instead of) soda lime glass or lead glass, you will need a lens that offers protection from infrared in addition to UV light and sodium flare. The best options in this case are the Green ACE IR 3.0—best for those doing smaller torch-work projects such as beads and marbles, and those working with clear borosilicate—and the Green ACE IR 5.0, which is good for people working with colored borosilicate or those doing larger projects such as large vessels. The latter is also a good option for those doing torch work with thick rods.
All of these lenses can be purchased in many different frame types. Safety glasses and goggles are available for those looking to exercise extra caution. Glasses with side shields are an option, as well as many stylish frames that offer a fashionable way to exercise safety. Clip-on lenses are a good option for those who wear prescription glasses on a day-to-day basis. They can also be handy for someone needing multiple types of protection as mentioned above. For the avid lampworker, there is an option to have prescription safety glasses made; this is often a more comfortable option than wearing safety glasses over eyeglasses.
If you would like to learn this beautiful art form, or even if you are already well into the learning process and need to find the right safety glasses for lampworking, we can help you out. With so many options to choose from, you might find yourself a bit lost or confused.
If this article didn’t answer all of your questions, or if you just got lost in all the information provided we would be happy to break it down even further and get the information sorted in a way that makes sense to you so you can get on with your work safely. Please contact us with all of your questions at Phillips Safety Products and we will get back with you as soon as we can.