Studio Safety Tips for the Arty and Crafty
Did you know that arts and crafts can be dangerous!!! Just think of all the times you almost stabbed yourself with a bookbinding needle, almost took a sip of your paint water, or burned your hand on hot embossing powder or a heat tool! Yes, art and craft can be a dangerous hobby! So let's take a quick look around the studio and look at a few quick tips to hopefully prevent some pain and perhaps crafty injuries, read on for my simplest tips and ideas to keep you safe.
Full confession - I need to take an updated Studio pic, it's now got more furniture, more plants and um just a bit more stuff oxoxo
Beware the paint water
Yes, we have all had this happen, favorite beverage on one side and paint water on the other, a moment of distraction and suddenly the paint water is halfway to your lips, noooooooooo. So how to avoid this in the future, I've gone with something ridiculously simple - I use mini mugs for my paint water - they are cute, practical and different enough from my actual drinking cups, mugs and glasses that I haven't tried to drink my paint water since! As you can see from the pic, I have 2 tiny mugs, one for clean water (the glass one) and one for dirty water (the purple Pantone mini mug).
The other thing to be aware of is pets in the house, I have no idea why but my cats are always VERY interested in the paint water - keep all of your family safe by emptying out the paint water when you leave the desk or room to make sure that none of your precious fur babies drink anything nasty.
Work in a well-lit area
Visibility is key, not only will your colors be easier to match but it's essential to reduce the risk of eyestrain. Eyestrain is when your eyes have been focusing too hard and start to get stressed out, they might feel dry, irritated, blurry or watery, causing pain or even headaches. It's best to avoid eyestrain by making sure you have a good desk lamp or craft light that can help you better see the area you’re working in and a good pair of glasses if you need them, you might want to visit this website if you need a spare pair! You should contrast the desk light with the main light source in the ceiling or on the wall, as only having one direct source of light can also be a cause of eyestrain! I have one large overhead light and then a few desk lamps, and ring lights that I move about and turn on and off as I need them.
Don’t jab yourself (yes this seems obvious!)
Though it might not be the most serious of injuries (I hope), needles do, indeed, hurt when you jab yourself with them! In most cases, when you’re holding the needle you’re going to be holding it in a way that it’s not likely to turn around and jab you - except when binding journals or books - sadly speaking from experience when putting pressure on the needle to force it through several pages to make a DIY journal you are in serious peril. Just be careful with how you hold the needle and the paper, angling the needle so that it doesn’t come out the other side anywhere near your hand or fingers. Use a bookbinding cradle if you have one or make one out of recycled cardboard - to give you something to put pressure on when forcing the needle through the paper. Take the risk seriously, though. It’s not unheard of for someone to jab themselves with a needle so deep that they have to do to the doctor and get an x-ray to find it. OUCH!
Buy a good adjustable chair
Aside from doing a lot of repetitive work with your hands, crafting projects such as card making or scrapbooking often involves a lot of sitting - if you are making lots of cards or layouts, then you are likely doing a LOT of sitting. Making sure that you’re comfy is going to be a priority for anyone - I gave up the super cool looking black chair that matched my office in favor of a chunky purple number with lumbar support. Buying that ergonomic chair was the best move (my back tells me so) as it has really helped to support my head, back and spine. If you are looking for another reason to grab an ergonomic chair - think of it this way - if you are comfy you can craft for longer :) And don't worry, you can always get crafty and make that sensible chair look fabulous!
Avoid hot items
Yes also obvious, but how many times have you touched hot embossing powder or hot glue - or is it just me! Now I'm not sure there is a sure-fire way to stay safe from this hot sticky stuff, but here is my rule of thumb - when you go to grab something telling yourself it will be cool enough - count to 30 slowly before you actually touch it! You could also use a gripper tool to pick up things you think might be hot, there are also heatproof gloves for those who are repeat offenders! As for the dreaded heat tool, I know several friends with interesting scars from the hot end of these bad boys! My best tip for dealing with these (depending on the tool you own) is to hang the tool on a hook away from you, place the tool on a small trivet on your desk out of arms reach or if you have one of the long cylindrical heat tools, there is a special heat tool holder that you can buy to place these in on the desk.
Beware the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI)
RSIs, as the name implies, are more likely to happen when you are performing a similar motion in a repetitive fashion, think making 100 Christmas cards or even painting on an easel day after day in the same position. RSI is the term for all manner of musculoskeletal injuries that can cause you serious pain and keep you away from your hobby. Perhaps like me, you are someone who has this happen, my biggest issue is my back and shoulder, and I am slowly learning how important it is to take breaks when crafting and to get up out of your chair to stretch your back, legs, and your wrists before you get back to working feverishly on that project. It is way better to avoid RSI if possible than it is to deal with the painful and frustrating process of recovery.
If your wrists are the bit that's constantly sore rather than the back, consider a supportive wrist or hand brace (yes I've had to wear one of these for a while). I'm positive I'm not the only person who's experienced an injury to the wrist or hand as a result of crafting. Though moderation and rest are still the best tips to help you avoid wrist pain, if you’re feeling pain in your wrists, then hand braces can help provide support, however, so you still want to be careful about pushing yourself too hard. If you’re still experiencing pain despite the brace, it’s best to take a longer break, watch some TV (The Mandalorian Season 2 perhaps), a favorite movie or 2 - just get away from the craft room for a while or if the pain persists go to the doctor.
Know when to stop
This might just be the hardest thing - especially when you are almost finished or in the zone. BUT if you experience any pain at all when crafting, you should take that as a sign that you need to take a break. Take fifteen minutes to grab a drink, have a stretch, walk around, and feel out your body to see if the pain lingers even when you stop. If it does, then you should stop for the day or do something else.
Just because serious art or crafting accidents might not be daily news doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangers to be aware of. Hopefully, the handy tips above ensure that you stay safe in the craft room or studio and so you can avoid some of the pain I've inflicted on myself over the past few years :)
What's the worst accident or injury you've ever had as a result of art or craft?
Let me know below in the comments, we can swap craft injury stories and make each other feel better oxoxo