No one knows better than an art teacher that art can be made from just about anything, but we have to make sure the materials we are using are safe. There are many sculpture processes and materials that are just not appropriate for the K-12 classroom.
Anything relating to metals deserves some special attention. I heard recently that pewter casting was being done in a summer program. I’m sure the process is really cool, but the lead content in Pewter is not considered safe for our students. There are also a number of processes which invole solder, but we have to be very careful to use lead-free solders.
Less obvious are some paper mache materials. There is an “instant” paper mache product called Celluclay that is labelled non-toxic but may contain asbestos, talc, and heavy metals — all reasons this product is not approved for use. And did you know the colored print of newspapers may contain toxic metals and carcinogens? It’s hard to believe, but colored print newspaper should not be used for paper mache projects in our schools.
You can check out the first Art Room Safety Post HERE.