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Safe ways of handling chemicals


#1

This was originally sent to Daniel in response to his offer to post
items regarding toxics in the studio

I am urging the rest of you who have the knowledge or know of a good
source of info. on the dangers of various compounds to pass it on to
the rest of the artists and craftspeople who are out here. It doesn’t
have to be lengthy nor does it have to be done all at once.

I’ve seen lots of great suggestions and answers in response to
various problems with techniques and materials but very few (although
excellent ones) on safe handling of the many chemicals associated
with jewelry and metals.

David in foggy Berkeley


#2
    I am urging the rest of you who have the knowledge or know of a
good source of info. on the dangers of various compounds to pass it
on to the rest of the artists and craftspeople who are out here. 

To all of you jewelers out there who may not be rock polishers but
who may need to trim a stone for repairng a customer’s piece of
jewelry, just remember this:

  1. Anything from the sea, you die. This means albalone, pearls,
    shells, etc. They contain arsenic or strychnine (can’t remember which)
    the dust of which you inhale and the mist of which is absorbed through
    your skin. Always do it wet, with a respirator (not a dust mask),
    cover your arms, and when you are finished don’t eat until you scrub
    your fingernails.

  2. Never cut a blue or green stone without a respirator. That means
    lapis or malachite. Follow the same precautions above.

I learned all this from rock polishers in Quartzsite, not from OSHA
who, in my opinion, doesn’t have a clue about the dangers of polishing
stones.

Carol


#3

Hi, Carol. Wow. Thank you for putting it straight. (Ulp.) SO…
preparing a cuttlebone mould? Working black coral with a flex shaft??
Both dangerous???

Andy


#4

Andy, I can’t address cuttle fish backs but certainly can talk about
"black coral". There are essentially two black corals - the
Antipatharians, which are actually a sub-group of the anthozoan HARD
corals and the gorgonian which is a sub-broup of the anthozoan SOFT
corals. This may be confusing because corals are grouped
taxologically on the basis of the type of living polyps making up the
coral. (The antipatharian tends to grow at greater depths and is more
dense and harder than the gorgonian which grows in shallower waters).
Suffice it to say that the black coral used in jewelry is the skeleton
of these corals which happen to be made of the same material
regardless of the kind of animal that previously inhabited them. In
both cases, the black coral skeleton is made up of a horny substance
called gorgonin, a protein material like hair and fingernails and rich
in iodine and bromine. One type of Gorgonian coral - Common Bushy
Soft Coral reportedly contains high concentrations of prostaglandins
that funtion like mammalian hormones and can act as a birth-control
agent.

Is it dangerous to work black coral with a flexshaft? Normal
protection is essential. A good commercial quality filter mask is
adequate to filter out the dust though the iodine smell will still
permeate the area for some time. Goggles will keep the dust and
particles out of ones eyes. Any dust should be washed off the skin
after working it but it is easy to remove with soap and warm water.
Some people have shown allergic reaction to black coral dust and smell
but others do not. In have seen no analysis that indicates active
poisonous content in the black coral skeleton. When alive, some
species of gorgonian soft corals are known to secrete protective
fluids but the horny skeleton has no poison making capability.

I have been working black coral for a number of years and take normal
precautions. Do to advancing age, I have regular physicals and
blood analysis; nothing abnormal has shown up that might be attributed
to my activities with black coral.

For those interested be sure to see the August 2000 edition of the
Lapidary Journal for more Cheers from Don at The Charles
Belle Studio where simple elegance IS fine jewelry!


#5
    Andy, I can't address cuttle fish backs but certainly can talk
about "black coral". ..I have been working black coral for a number
of years ...

Thanks, Don. Reassuring. Will seek out Aug. LJ (love any excuse to
treat mself to this mag). The coral was a gift; thought it was some
lovely half-petrified wood till I rubbed it and smelled the sea. It’s
quite thick and straight–about same as my ringfinger [woman’s 71/4].
Envision lovely long waspish insect bodies–thought flex shaft would
be best. Would love to hear how you work black coral; do you carve
it, with what tools, how does it behave?, etc. Cheers–Andy


#6

Andy, I think all your questions will be answered when the August
issue of LJ arrives. They will be running my article telling about
BC, how to work it, what can be made of it, etc. There will also be
some projects to do. I love the stuff… If you still have questions
about it after reading the article, give me a hoot and I’ll try to help you. Cheers, Don


#7
Thanks, Don.  Reassuring.  The coral was a gift... It's
quite thick and straight--about same as my ringfinger [woman's 71/4...

Wups. This is Andy again. Not that it matters much, but the above
size should read “51/2”. I’ve been playing with configuartions on the
keyboard, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how I managed to
transpose those particular numbers.


#8

Andy, I briefly saw a copy of the Aug issue of LJ tonight, though it
was someone elses and I did not have an opportunity to look at it
closely and see how they treated my original manuscript. My copy
should arrive tomorrow. Sure enough, there was my article on black
coral and the Jewelry Journal carries a project on how to create
simple black coral ear rings. There will be another project in next
month’s JJ as well to be followed by a JJ project in Oct on making
black coral beads. Hope you are able to get a copy of the mag.
Again, if you have any questions, let me know. Cheers,
Don