Stained Glass Safety: How to Keep Glass Shards Out of Your House (And Yourself)

In our last Peace, Love, & Stained Glass Community Live Work-along, one of our members asked about how we all kept glass shards from getting in our houses. Cuz ya know…glass is slicey and dicey and pokey and unpleasant to get in your fleshy bits.

(Side note: if ya wanna hang with a ridiculously fun group of glass hoarders, get inspired, & learn new stuff, come join us in the Peace, Love, & Stained Glass Community)

Mountain Woman Products Stained Glass Artist wrapped in plastic covered in safety gear holding a vacuum

We’re gonna start off here with one of the most common questions I get asked by aspiring Stained Glass Artists…

Do you get a lot of cuts making stained glass art?

Yup. Ya can! But…do ya hafta?

Nope.

Cut resistant gloves are suuuuuper helpful! Many long time glassers don’t use them all of the time. Some just when we’re moving bigger glass sheets. Cuz we’re used to cuts & kinda stopped caring about the little slices.

But…. it’s not always the big pieces of glass that are the worst. 

In fact, we have four different sizes of glass to worry about.

  • Sheets (slicing, dicing on edges)
  • Scraps (slicing & stabbing)
  • Shards (splinter size)
  • The Forbidden Glitter (the teeny tiny pieces that fly out when ya grind)

The last two are the worst cuz they’re really tough to see. 

How do you keep glass shards from getting all over the house?

The first step is:

Don’t make stained glass art in the house. 😁

Except for foiling of course…the only real hazard there is not getting any foiling done cuz your cat thinks the paper backing was made exclusively for their batting/biting/wrestling pleasure.

Can you make stained glass in your house or apartment?

The best places to do your stained glass art is in a garage, shed, attic, or basement. They’re well separated from the rest of your house & are generally not carpeted.

If ya have a spare room without a carpet (and a door that seals reaaaaaaaallly well to keep soldering/flux fumes out of the rest of the house…most of us don’t), then ya may be able to get away with that…but the glass shard thing is still considerably more problematic than if you were in a separate area.

Quick Tip: Use free suncatchers to sweet talk a friend with a basement or garage. Or, check with local glass shops or art studios in your area. Many rent out time for as little as $5 to $10 an hour! Some of them even have frequent artist cards for discounts (like ya get at the local coffee shop).

The second step is to:

Prevent Glass Shards From Getting on the Floor

You can protect your work surface or table, your hands, and help keep pieces off of the floor with a Creator’s Brand Waffle Grid.

I worked on a stack of packing paper for years. A yoga mat or a piece of cork work too. Just make sure if you’re using any of those, ya use a butler’s brush or stiff bristled shoe shine brush to well, brush off your surface regularly.

I have ones like these:

Mini Butler’s Brush & Pan

Shoe Shine Brush

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

That’ll help keep the stabby bits outta your hands.

But the Creator’s Waffle Grid? I’m a biiiiiig fan! It has little crevices all over that keep glitter, shards, & small bits outta your hands, and off of your floor.

If ya want one, check it out on My Favorite Tools & Supplies page…we have a lovely, excluuuuuusive coupon code for ya there. Cuz we’re fancy.

Vacuum the Ever Lovin Crap Outta Your Workshop!

No matter how cautious you are with your work surface, glass bits like to fly!

That’s where vacuuming comes in to play.

Keeping one just for your stuuuudio space is the best idea. We use this one in the house & cars and it’s pretty fantastic. The bags make for easy clean up.

Milwaukee Vacuum

Farmboy got this one for me for my bday…it’s fantastic! Sucks up the teeniest shards & bigger pieces too and doesn’t take up much space at all in the studio.

*As an amazon affiliate, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

I picked up a second old school metal shopvac for the studio at a yard sale for ten bucks! It smells like old people, but works wonderfully.

But vacuuming alone is never enough cuz glass shards? They soooooo sneaky! 

You’ll find them in the weirdest of places.

So, how do you protect yourself, your animals, your lil ones, and your naughty bits (for realz…that happened to a glasser I know😱) from tiny wayward travelling glass shrapnel?

Everyone’s got different stabbing tolerance levels for glass, so we’ll cover everything here from kinda careful to full on apocalypse style protection.

Protect Your Lovely Face

In my (entirely correct) opinion, the number one, completely mandatory thing to protect from glass is your eyeballs. 

Safety glasses are helpful, but I can tell ya I’ve had more than one occasion where a piece of glass flew onto my cheek, bounced into the inside of the lens, and boink! 

Right into my eyelashes. 

If it weren’t for my ninja-like reflexes, it definitely woulda been in my eyehole (and nothing’s to say next time I’ll be as up on my ninja game).

Which makes my favorite eye protection, the face shield. Use it for cutting, breaking, grinding (& soldering too…nobody likes a spatter of hot molten metal all up in the face).

Because it better protects your whole face, it also keeps glass out of your mouth. I know this because I’m apparently a mouth breather when I cut glass and I nearly ate glass twice now while only wearing safety glasses. 

This is exactly as pleasant an experience as you might expect.

Safety Works Faceshield

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

Save Your Hands

We talked about cut resistant gloves previously. They’re marvelous for moving your glass around the studio, cutting, breaking & grinding.

You can also get cut resistant finger sweaters. They don’t protect your whole hand, but they do give ya more dexterity. I like them for hand breaking little pieces of glass.

Nitrile gloves or dish gloves will provide protection from the grinder dust & water. That stuff can be really drying. And, the gloves will keep your real hands from bringing the glitter in the house.

Schwer Cut Resistant Gloves

Cut Resistant Finger Cots (Finger Sweaters)

SunnyCare Nitrile Gloves

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

Quick Tip: Put finger sweaters over your nitrile gloves to keep the glass edges from cutting your fingers while ya grind. If you wet the finger sweaters first, they slide over the gloves waaaaay easier.

Feet are for walkin…

Ya got two ways of wreckin’ your feet with stained glass.

The first is The Guiiiiiiiiiillotine! 

Glass sheet. Drop on foot. Cut toe off. 

Or at least make a nice, deep blood gulley out of the top of your foot.

The second is the everlasting splinter.

If you’ve ever gotten one of those in the bottom of your foot, ya know what it is to slowly be driven mad.

Keep a pair of closed toed shoes in the studio that cover your whole foot and leave ‘em in there so you don’t drag any glass into the house.

Check out this blog post for How To Quickly Remove Glass Splinters 

Your Hair

Your hair is like a lovely little spider web for glass shivs. 

At very least, pull your hair back into a ponytail & wear your faceshield. 

But, for better protection, channel your inner Rosie the Riveter & shove it all up in a bandana.

When you’re ready to leave the studio for the day, flip your head upside down, and remove the bandana. Keep it in the studio.

And remember which side is the outside & which is the inside so next time ya use it, you’re not plopping a bunch of glass dust on your head like a big ol poof of super scratchy dry shampoo!

Protect The Rest of Yourself from Glass Cuts

I was out cutting & breaking glass one day in the studio & suddenly felt the urge for a snack (this will come as absolutely no surprise if you’ve been to one of my Lives). 

I went into the house, nuked a quick plate of tortilla chips with cheese & plopped on the recliner, plate half on my stomach/half on my lap to feed my face.

And then, verrrrry fortunately, I looked down.

There, glistening like diamonds in the sunlight, was the glitter. All over my shirt. Right above my cheesey little chips of deliciousness.

The lesson there?

Probably don’t hafta tell ya glass shanks in the digestive tract are a no-no.

Keep a long sleeved shirt, zip up hoodie, smock, or even smarter….a pair of long sleeved coveralls in the studio. 

You could even get super duper protecty with full body coveralls.

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

Dickies Women’s Coveralls

Dickies Mens Coveralls

Tiger Tough Heavy Duty Coverall with Hood

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

Brush ’em off with a little butler’s brush before ya take ’em off & leave them in the studio!

And wash your arms and hands very well before ya do anything else in the house.

While we’re on the topic of glass in your guts…

Never, ever, I repeat, never wash your stained glass in the kitchen sink!

Flux residue & lead bb’s don’t belong with dishes. But also…

If you’ve ever been too lazy to wash your pieces after grinding, you’ve seen it’s covered in glass dust & those lovely little forbidden fragments. They get everywhere and the very last place ya want them is on your dishes.

They super like sticking to things, even when you rinse well, so just no. No kitchen sink.

Use a muck sink, or at very least, your bathroom sink (at least you’re not soaking dishes in there). 

Be sure to rinse the ever lovin’ crap out of it, and if ya drop your toothbrush or your contacts in there accidentally, it’s time for a new ones.

Oh yeah…and that old toothbrush? It does a great job of getting One Step Polish & Wax out of the corners of your solder lines!

Quick Tip: Always make sure you have a good flow of water coming from your grinder to minimize residual dust. Wipe your ground pieces down with a wet paper towel before washing. The less glass dust you get in your pipes the better! That stuff is the consistency of the gross spitballs all the jocks used to chuck at the walls in high school…they dry into a thick clay-like mass. And they can really mess up your plumbing.

Wrapping it all up

Everyone’s got their own limitations for safety in the studio. Personally, I’d rather be a little extra cautious and not end up with a shard in my eye, a crunchy meal for the hubs, or a shiv in a cat paw. 

Protect your pets and your peeps and come join your fellow glass shiv avoiders in the Peace, Love, & Stained Glass Community!

Peace, Love, & Stained Glass,

Mountain Woman Products Shannie holding stained glass and tools

😀-Shannie

peace love and stained glass community

Hey there fellow glass hoarder!

Ya found your peeps! Come play with us (& learn lotsa stained glass stuff too).

2 thoughts on “Stained Glass Safety: How to Keep Glass Shards Out of Your House (And Yourself)”

  1. Thank you so much! You have given me so much to think about. I am gathering supplies and advice to start making stained glass projects and most articles don’t talk about protecting your hair/body from glass shards. They only mention nitrile gloves and eye protection. I feel better going into this new hobby knowing how to better protect myself.

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