I start my welding class at Pratt Fine Arts Center this coming Sunday morning. I got a list of safety equipment to bring to class. The list includes, expressly, leather gloves. As a vegetarian, I try very hard not to buy leather goods. My shoes and my belt are non-leather. My wallet is rubber, and my last one was cork. I do own two pairs of leather work gloves, and a pair of Bont speed skates that I bought used. I also have a pair of leather boots ("jungle" boots) that I got from the retired military guy across the street, which is good, because it's quite possible that my non-leather boots would not be ideal for welding. But the need to buy leather welding gloves made me wonder what non-leather options were available. The main issues seem to be that the gloves need to withstand intense heat, along with very hot sparks which could easily melt lots of synthetic materials and set alight something more fabric-y, like cotton.
Looking around on the web, I found that there are vegetarian options, but there isn't a lot of information out there. I did find these non-leather welding gloves, so I might give them a try: they look very nice.
But, I can't get them by Sunday, so today I went to Hardwick's to see what they had. I ended up buying a pair of leather welding gloves for $8.39. Somehow, spending such a small amount of money on them makes me feel better about buying some leather.
From what I've read, welding gloves tend to wear out fairly rapidly, I guess due to the heat and sparks. When I replace these, I'll definitely try to get the non-leather ones.
(While trying to find information on this topic, I found that googling the phrase "vegan welder" yielded no hits at all, so I thought I'd make that the name of this blog entry so perhaps soon that phrase will hit something.)
(UPDATE 1/20/08: Now, a google search on the phrase "vegan welder" links here. )