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Collateral Damage

The glass fusing course was thoroughly enjoyable, but the downside is that it’s very hard on the hands. Last time, I came away with my hands covered with small but surprisingly deep cuts. This time, I was much more diligent about “grozing”, or filing away the very sharp fragments from the cut edges of the glass to make it safe to handle. As a result I managed to avoid getting cut all day, and didn’t have to break into the tutor’s impressive bulk-bought supplies of plasters.

But I didn’t get away entirely without damage. I spent all afternoon cutting class into triangles and rectangles to make up the pattern on my bowls. That meant applying very firm pressure using a glass-cutting tool – basically it looked like a pen with a steel nib and tungsten wheel on the tip. The wheel rolls across the glass, making a scoring line along which the glass then fractures. But you have to apply significant downward pressure to make the score deep enough – to the extent that, being short, I had to stand on a wooden box so that I could get enough weight behind it. My index finger took the brunt of the pressure, and I’ve come away with some form of repetitive strain injury as a result. It’s most peculiar – there’s absolutely nothing to see, but my finger feels numb and as if I have a callous or blister on the end of it. My brother-in-law also had what sounded like exactly the same symptoms, so it’s probably fairly common side-effect of exerting too much pressure over too long a period. Nearly a week later my finger is just beginning to return to normal, but still feels odd.

If I go again, I’ll have to try to lessen the pressure I apply (whilst still trying to cut the glass accurately) or perhaps just be less ambitious in the amount of glass-cutting I attempt. Interestingly, my sister escaped the numb-finger syndrome, perhaps because she was concentrating on using another technique of nibbling the glass into curved shapes using pliers, rather than cutting the glass directly.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Paul B | 30 May 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    A week later and I can confirm that my finger is in a similar state! The numbness is easing but still slighly apparent. I don’t remember it being an issue from the first time I went, so maybe this time I was just doing it incorrectly. As Geoff Boycott would say “that’s bad technique is that”.

  2. Hugh Webber | 1 June 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Try to get hold of a diamond scriber, it is much easier to use and needs less pressure