At last, I’ve got grit under my fingernails and fingers that can no longer operate a capacitive touch-screen phone (Seriously. 3 hours of exposure to silicon carbide, ground glass and a detergent-glycerin-water mixture have done something weird to my fingers so that my phone no longer thinks they’re human. ooooh…..), and as a bonus I moved on to the next finer grade of abrasive!
So I arrived at the class this afternoon, dodged a thunderstorm getting my mirror making kit from the car to the workshop, and ran into an immediate problem: I didn’t know which cannister of abrasive to open. See, I keep all the sponges, salt-shakers and grit containers from each stage of grinding because even though it’s cheap stuff, it still costs time and money to replace. To avoid cross-contamination between different grades of grit, each set is neatly sealed into a labelled ziplock bag. No doubt in the movie of my life, they’ll replace that lot with an elegant system of machined and polished stainless steel cannisters (because Hollywood knows of no other way for technology to be packaged), but I like it for being cheap, simple and effective. Except that at some point I forgot to label two of them, leaving me uncertain which contained #220 grit, and which contained #320. Getting them mixed up would be a disaster, since using #220 grit on a #320 ground surface means going back a stage. And what with the baby and all, that particular stage took me about 8 months. So I sighed, dumped the abrasive from both packs into a flowerbed, washed both packs, and fetched a clean supply of #320 grit. An hour’s grinding later, I showed my mirror to one of the class Elders, who advised that the fresh pits appearing on each wet were likely not a result of subsurface fracturing, but simply being dug by larger than expected particles in my grit supply. There’s a margin of error in the filtering and packaging process, not to mention the risks taken every time we decant from the manufacturers original packaging into smaller cannisters. He suggested that I do a few wets at #400, and if the progress doesn’t look good then simply return to #320 for a few more hours.
So I did that, but I’ll share a secret: the little sabbatical I took has left me a lot less perfectionist and finnicky than before. It’s been 8 months, I need to see progress NOW. Psychologically speaking, if it turns out that I’m not actually ready for #400, I will likely not admit it to myself. Ah the impetuousness of youth…
I’m still finding my feet in the new year, and haven’t really regained mastery of my time since the baby was born, so I’m not sure how much work I’ll be doing at home between now and completion, but at least I’ve resumed work and am glad that at no point since this time last year have I forgotten about the project or contemplated giving it up. It’s just a matter of time, now, before I have a happy little 6″ Newtonian all of my own!
Addedum, next morning: Good news everybody! My fingers are back to normal. I can use my phone again!