Friday, August 29, 2008

Personal safety measures when working with dyes and chemicals

I think most people who work with dyes and chemicals these days are pretty aware that personal health precautions are the norm. All dye books devote a chapter to this topic and tutors should be passing on warnings. Each individual has to weigh up how often they use dyes and the amount of risk. As I am a regular user of dyes I rate the risk factor highly.
Starting with the air I breath. I use those simple white face masks for one-off handling of dye powders, and measure everything in an enclosed dye box. When handling a series of dye powders I use an industrial face mask which covers both my nose and mouth. This mask is definitely not a fashion statement, looks uncomfortable although I am now used to it. It has two sets of replaceable filters, one for dust and the other for vapours (discharge techniques). When not in use I store this in a sealable container so as to extend the life of the filters.
To cover my hands I use disposable gloves for smaller fiddly jobs, but when immersion dyeing larger lengths of fabric I use industrial gloves (available from any hardware store). These come well up my arms, and allow me to slide my hands in and out without struggling. I recently used my current pair to protect myself when pruning the roses and consequently I got a hole in them, resulting in one brightly coloured finger during the next dyeing episode! I will now purchase another pair and relocate the old ones to the garden department.
To protect my clothes I have a strong vinyl apron which I purchased at the Surface Design Association (SDA) conference in Kansas City, MO
I use equipment specifically reserved for dyeing (no kitchen stuff) and am lucky enough to have a well-ventilated studio space to work in.
Next Blog: Understanding fibre content and its importance when dyeing

Me ready to take on the dyeing world....

And this is how I feel... with all due respects to this lovely Spanish donkey who hee-hawed with great gusto when our group of NZer's passed by