Lather, Rinse and Repeat.

18 07 2011

That’s sort of what sandblasting is like.

Picture spending 8 hours in a dust mask, surrounded by the noise of a very loud construction zone, and waving a difficult-to-maneuver magic wand back and forth over a surface that’s less than 6 inches square. You can’t actually see anything happening. But inevitably, after 6 or 7 passes at a very slow speed (or roughly the time it takes to listen to half of a typical rock-n-roll song per magnet), the surface of the piece of glass I’m working on will have a noticeable difference in elevation from where I’ve been blasting when compared to the original surface of the glass.

The sandblasting pile for this week

Sandblasting experts will, no doubt, criticize me on how slowly my sandblaster works, and tell me to up the pressure or some other fix to make it faster. I’ve tried changing every variable I can think of to make it go faster, trust me. The end result is that I wreck a lot more product that way, and some of the glass I work with runs about $1/square inch. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Many of my designs have exceedingly fine lines, or some aspect of them that is definitely pushing the envelope on what the resist will stick through. So I shrug my shoulders and do it the slow way.

It’s hard work. No blasting cabinet was ever designed for a human of normal proportions. I’ve owned two cabinets now, and, over the years, have had at least five different people in front of them putting in a sandblasting session. Not one person has walked away from a session without a stiff neck, red lines in their face from the dust mask, and a sore right hand from holding the trigger down for hours at a time.

But hey, all jobs have parts that suck. (That was a pun. Sandblasting – for the uninitiated – involves a shop vac or some other suction device that removes excess dust from the interior of the sandblasting cabinet.) I pun about sandblasting because it’s like every other part of any other job that stinks. If you don’t keep your sense of humor about it, it becomes a job you dread, and one you’d avoid if you could.

Me in my sexy dust mask

When you’re the only b*tch cracking the whip about what gets done around the office… er, studio… it becomes a task of epic proportions if you don’t keep a sense of humor about it. So I offset blasting days with rewards!

Reward #1: I have an entire playlist of naughty music (mostly by folks on the Renaissance Festival circuit) that I’ve listened to so many times now I can sing along at top volume. (Which I typically do when I’m sandblasting.) It includes the Tartan Terrors, Iris and Rose, Fascinating Aida, and Heather Dale (In the furthering of self-employed artists like myself, here are some links to buy CD’s from these artists if they catch your ears).
The Tartan Terrors
Iris and Rose
Fascinating Aida
Heather Dale

Reward #2: Ice cream for lunch. There’s a tiny sweets shop in Seville, the one-stoplight town where my studio is located. If I end up sandblasting for more than 4 hours I figure I’ve earned ice cream for lunch.

Reward #3: I whine about it. (I’m kidding. Whining is unattractive in anyone, more so if that person is over the age of 5.) Really, though, if I mention I’ve been sandblasting and ask my other half for a neck rub, it happens. He’s awesome that way.

If anyone wants a sandblasting demonstration, give me a shout. So that you are aware in advance, the best way for me to demonstrate it is to give a hands-on experience. (Snicker.) Just think of Tom Sawyer’s fence painting duties, and you’ll understand why I’m giggling. If you haven’t read Tom Sawyer, follow the dang link and educate yourself. (Yes, education is a commonly stood upon soapbox around here. If you don’t like it, don’t subscribe.)

Catch ya later. I’ve got to get to the studio. There’s a pile of stuff that needs sandblasted that’s waiting for me.




2 responses

19 07 2011

Hi Molly! If possible, consider a foot pedal instead of a hand trigger. Perhaps it will not have the fine tuning you need, but it sure cuts down on hand fatigue. Either way, I agree, afterwords you DESERVE ice cream for lunch, especially the good stuff! Hope you and your family are well.

20 07 2011
M. Sotherden Art Glass

Hey Constance! I’ll have to look into that. Thanks 🙂

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