Needling is a description of the fine points emerging from the edges of glass.
This occurs in two conditions mainly.
The one that is most commonly seen is in the fusing of single layers of glass. The surface tension of the glass pulls the glass in from its original size, trying to achieve the 6-7mm that is a thickness equilibrium at full fusing temperatures. If the surface the glass is resting on has any rough areas, and most surfaces do, some of the glass will stick and the rest retract. This leaves short, thin and extremely sharp “needles” extending from the edges.
Two common surfaces allow these sharp edges. Fibre paper of 0.5mm and greater is rough enough to allow the hot glass to stick to tiny depressions in the paper. Kiln wash is often not smooth enough to prevent this kind of sticking either. You can smooth powdered kiln wash or aluminia hydrate over these surfaces to reduce the grabbing of the surface by the hot glass. However, the powder is often drawn back with the contracting glass. Thinfire or Papyros paper is fine enough to avoid the needling most of the time without any addition of powders.
The other main condition is in casting, mainly box casting or damming. In this case, the stack of glass sheets or cullet is higher before firing than its final thickness. This means the glass flows out to the dams and sinks down to its final thickness during the firing process. As the glass touches the fibre paper or other separator it behaves just as the single layer of glass does. Some sticks to the surface while the rest is dragged away by the surface tension and reducing thickness of the stack of glass.
Prevention of Needling
Separators for dams