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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Parrish

Tools of the Trade

When I began etching a bit over two years Ago, all of my work was done with a Dremel rotary tool and a flex shaft attachment. The Dremel has a variable speeds from 5,000 to 40,000 rpm. I use a variety of shaped diamond tipped burs to carve into the glass. It's easy to tell my early work from my more recent efforts. Over time, I grew to know exactly what bit to use at what speed with what types of glass to create the effect I wanted. The only problem was after about 10-15 minutes of etching, my hand went numb. But I pushed through it, taking breaks and doing exercises along the way to protect my hand, wrist and arm.

Eventually it caught up with me and I spent weeks in physical therapy with painful damage in my shoulder, elbow and wrist. Something had to give - but etching has been my go-to stress relief and I was not ready to set it down. After researching several tools, Lynn and I decided to invest in a couple new tools that, when combined with my Dremel work, take a lot of the strain off my joints.

One is a sandblasting tool, which creates a gorgeous, even and milky etch. Using a small 'pen' attached to a pressure Pot and air compressor, Sand blasts onto the glass carving away at the surface. The other tool is a pneumatic etching tool. It's is similar in concept to the dremel in that it spins a diamond-tipped bur which I use to 'draw' on the glass. But unlike the dremel, there is no torque, no heavy attachments and it instead spins at up to 300,000 rpm (compared to the 40,000 rpm of the Dremel). A new Cricuit Maker brings it all together.

Both tools require re-learning my craft - from making sandblasting masks, to getting used to the insane speed of the etching pen - sparks literally fly!

SO, most of January and February has been spent 'playing and learning' - so I can bring to you a whole new spectrum of art, products and even mediums. I am no longer just limited to glass. I can work much faster. We can do large custom orders or small individualized work.

And the best part is after 12 weeks, I am starting to feel the relief of physical therapy, rest, ice, heat and Anti-inflammatories!



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