Safety Tips for Cosplayers

There’s some discussions going around Cosplay Twitter about precautions one should take when crafting. I’ve compiled some of them here for convenience!

This thread by quicksparrows is not only very helpful, but started the discussion on twitter, with more cosplayers chiming in with their own tips.

Respiratory Protection & Dangerous Toxins

  • “Because I occasionally see cosplayers heating up PVC pipe for use in props and for wing frames without protection: PVC pipe off-gasses hydrogen chloride when heated up. The smell is unmistakeable. Do not heat it up to bend it without respiratory protection. It’s even in the name — polyvinyl chloride. We all learn somewhere, so it’s also extremely prudent for people posting tutorials or instructing others to bend PVC pipe to at least MENTION the necessity of respiratory protection when doing this.” (source: quicksparrow)
  • “[Use a] Respirator and gloves when handling contact cement in a WELL VENTILATED AREA (or just do that shit outside).” (source: self)
  • “You need to have a fume rated and particle rated filter in [the respirator]. Just particle rating is doing shit for the fumes you are inhaling and resin and contact cement fumes are carcinogenic.” (source: Saunwolfgirl)
  • “A good rule is: if you are heating something to shape it, even if it SEEMS safe and you’ve seen others do it, google it first. A LOT of materials off-gas toxins when heated and cosplayers are notoriously bad at including warnings on tutorials. There’s a lot of tutorials out there where people make neat textures in craft foam with soldering irons. Burning it produces hydrogen bromide. Don’t do that stuff in your house. Don’t do it around your pets. Be well, friends!” (source: Maridah)

Working with Heat, Power Tools, and 3D Printers

  • “[Use] Heat-resistant work surfaces when using heat guns.” (source: self)
  • “[Use] Earplugs/ear protection with power tools.” (source: LadyCels)
  • “Using 3D printers and resin printers can be harmful to your health, too! ABS is known to off gas REALLY BADLY when extruding, and UV resin has its own host of problems. Use a ventilator mask, use gloves and set up airflow!” (source: ayrrindragoncos)

Eye protection

  • “[Use] Eye protection when sanding/dremeling.” (source: self)
  • “Wear eye protection when sewing, too! The amount of times my machine has hit a pin or seam and sent broken needle shards flying is too many for comfort.” (source: Cosplayaway)
  • “If your contacts are sitting in a case, you should change your disinfecting solution at least once every 30 days. That’s an absolute minimum — and may need to be more frequent depending on your contacts’ replacement schedule — so talk to your eye doctor to find out what’s right for you.” (source: All About Vision)

General Safety Tips

  • “Clean your workspace! A messy desk can hide things (Like craft knives) and it’s easy to forget where they are when you put something down.” (source: LadyCels)
  • “Have a first aid kit within easy (and fast) reach. Fire extinguisher a plus.” (source: LadyCels)
  • “Always turn off your machine before threading a needle or bobbin And don’t hold pins your mouth.” (source: Cosplayaway)

Learn from Cosplayers’ Past Mistakes

  • “In October, I got bronchitis from sanding dust because I wasn’t careful with dust masks. I majorly warped a section of my $60 cutting mat when I omitted using a heat-safe board once. [And] I have a permanent scar on my hand from an acrylic shard after forgetting gloves.” (source: Squeakadeeks)
  • “Yesterday, I attempted to use barge cement for the first time. Mistakes were made. A couple pro-tips: 1) make sure your work area is ACTUALLY ventilated well. 2) Make sure the bottle lid you’re using is securely fastened so it doesn’t pop off and spill cement everywhere. Both problems have been fixed and both lessons learned. I’m not allowed to do anything that requires a mask in the craft room and must do it outside. (Nothing extremely dangerous happened, just some glue fumes that we had to air out. But it COULD’VE turned worse quickly.)” (source: self)

Conclusion

  • Read and research what you’re working with before you use it. Whether it’s materials, power tools, equipment, or adhesives. Know the risks and know how to protect yourself.
  • Invest in safety equipment such as:
    • Respirator mask (make sure the filters are for what you’re dealing with, whether it be particles or fumes!)
    • Eye goggles
    • Gloves for working with heat
    • Gloves for working with dye
    • Cutting mat
    • Sillicone heat mat
  • Prepare your area
    • Keep your work area clean to prevent dangerous items from surprising you.
    • Have first aid kit ready and nearby.
    • When working with fumes, work in a well-ventilated area. Everyone in the area should be wearing proper protection as well! Anyone not wearing proper protective gear should not be in the area!

Do you have any tips you’d like me to add? Let me know in the comments!

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