My Modest Invention - A Simple Thumb Cushion
Given that I'm playing a difficult recital soon, I've been concerned about getting a split between my right thumb nail and skin, a painful problem that happens to me when I'm doing heavy playing. None of the usual solutions, a piece of surgical tubing on the bow, surgical tape, a pencil holder, a sponge of one kind or another, work well for me and all of them interfere with my other fingers' comfort on the bow and the stability of my bow hold.
So - here's a solution that I came up with last week: this goes onto the thumb itself. It starts with a vinyl medical or all-purpose glove (from a box of 50, about $5, which you can buy practically anywhere). Cut off the thumb of the glove and stuff into it (with a pencil or pen) a piece of soft sponge to go over the entire end of your thumb. I'm using soft packing sponge from when I moved here, cutting pieces about 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches by 3/8 inch). When you put your own thumb into the middle of the sponge in the vinyl thumb, it's necessary to adjust it into a comfortable, non-bunched up position. It makes a very comfy pad for the end of the thumb without affecting any of the other fingers. As long as the vinyl thumb is firmly ensconced it does not come off by itself. I find that the padded vinyl thumb cushion also doesn't slip on the bow the way my own thumb tends to do. I can turn pages more easily with it. The main downside is with pizzicato. It's possible to do thumb pizzicato, but more difficult and doing an arpeggiated pizzicato with the thumb cushion sounds like the lute stop on a harpsichord. I'm experimenting with substituting first finger for arpeggiated pizzicati which would normally be done by the thumb.