One night I tossed and turned in bed, sore…so sore. I started think about my day and to try to diagnose the causes for my pains. My hands hurt. That is easy to figure out…I work with my hands. While I’ve had TWO carpel tunnel surgeries, my hands and wrists still hurt and still go numb. I found this article about exercises for hands. It reminded me that my hands and wrists would benefit from stretching and flexing exercises. I am trying several of their suggested exercises in the morning before I get out of bed.
My back and neck hurt too. “Oy! The pain in my neck and back are killing me.” Okay, maybe a little dramatic. I was complaining to a friend who figured that my bench is too high. I made my bench…it’s a Franken bench—and in theory it would be easy to cut some off the 2×4 legs. Having tried this in the past and unsuccessfully cut each leg the same… I’m looking into a higher chair or a chair that adjusts better. My studio chair was a road side find…so I’m sure there are better chairs to be found.
My body also hurts due to decisions I made while in my twenties such as jumping out of “perfectly good planes” with a parachute in the army. I have aches and pains that make sitting for long periods impossible. To compensate I’ve learned to do many tasks standing up. I added a rubber gym mat where I stand to work, that helped. And I added more lights—this may sound strange but more lighting improved my posture! I wasn’t working at weird angles to get the best light.
Where I store my tools is also important to help keep my body happy. I have a small studio and so I take advantage of all and any areas for storage. Under my bench I put a set of drawers. I added wheels and some pegboard to the side. The idea was that I could pull it out of the way while using the bench and it would provide handy storage. That is the theory. In practice–I haven’t the room to pull it out, so I work squished to the left of the bench, the tools on the peg board are hard to get. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve dinged my head on my bench pin as I bent over and down to get a tool!) Having tools handy is obviously important. I think I’ve held on to this “system” too long and despite the time I spent building it and painting…it has to go.
I hope I’ve started you thinking about where you work and how you work. For further reading, I recommend this paper that was presented at the 2010 Sante Fe Symposium on the topic of studio ergonomics for jewellers. In the article, the authors show many examples of solutions from jewellery studios.
Jeannette Froese LeBlanc is the editor at Cre8tiveFire.com and a jewellery artist. She is definitely “A glass 1/2 full kind of person”. She has learned to enjoy the journey and not solely focus on the destination, which is something her kids taught her. Look down, look around, enjoy where you are.