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The sandblasting process

People are often surprised that sandblasting glass is such an industrial process considering the delicacy and detail that can be produced.  It's noisy, dusty and just a bit magical.  At its most basic sandblasting is firing grit ('sand' is a bit of a misnomer) under pressure at the glass in order to abrade the surface but of course there can be much more to it than that.

Every sandblasted piece begins with a design, usually hand drawn by me but sometimes using a specific image that the customer has asked for, maybe a logo or photo.  Once I'm happy with the design, and had it approved by the client if it's a commission, I scan it into the computer and send it to my vinyl cutter.  When the vinyl has been produced I take it to my studio and transfer it to the glass that I'm using.  If the piece requires single stage blasting I remove all the vinyl in the areas that are going to be sandblasted so that the clear glass is revealed, take it to my sandblasting shed and do it.  Multi stage blasting is more complicated and can require multiple trips to the sandblasting box.  Multi stage means that different areas of the glass are sandblasted for different lengths of time and/or at different pressures to create different effects.  I remove the vinyl and blast the deepest areas first before returning to my studio to remove the next layer that I won't blast as deep as I want to keep the contrast between them.  If I'm using thick glass the initial layers can be so deep that you can really feel them whilst the final layers may be a light dusting that you can hardly see.  

Once all the sandblasting is done I carefully clean the piece and remove any remaining vinyl, often the areas not blasted are just as important to the design as those that aren't.