Sparkle & sandblasting prep

Here’s why I use hand-made (mouth-blown) transparent glass in my windows. It’s beautifully sparkly! (watch 12 seconds of video)  As you may perhaps have guessed, this is my first ever movie. Please excuse the creaky tripod. My dear husband suggests I should stick to making stained glass!

Now, on to the sandblasting…
There are thimbleberries in the foreground of the window cut from flashed ruby glass. Yesterday my assistant Sam began applying masks to these pieces of glass to prepare them for sandblasting. Flashed glass is blown with a thin skin of one colour fused into the surface of another, usually lighter, colour. The rubies I’m using for the thimbleberries are flashed onto green or grey glass. Unmasked areas get sandblasted away to reveal the ‘body’ colour of the glass. Masked areas stay ruby. In this case, it’s the little red berries that remain transparent, sparkly red. I will paint foliage on the gray/green areas.

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Today I went to glass sculptor Bill LeQuier‘s studio to sandblast the thimbleberries, Joseph’s undershirt, Mary’s sandal, and the white hair and beard of the grandfather figure……….

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…………….here’s a photo of Grandad under the sandblasting nozzle. This is the view through into the sandblaster as I work, and the blob on the left is the thumb of my rubber glove. The image appears to be reversed. At this point the darker beige is the flash colour (just about to be removed) and the lighter shade is the mask.

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Removing Grandad’s mask to reveal white areas for his hair and beard. You can also see a little pile of thimbleberries on the tray (red glass still masked), and Mary’s sandal with the foot partly exposed.

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Learn more about flashed glass from the manufacturer, Glasshutte Lamberts.

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6 thoughts on “Sparkle & sandblasting prep

  1. Thank you … and good morning from PA!! I just found a place not too far away with a sand blast set up I can use…. Now to find the time to get there and get the rust off what I know about it…. this post helped light the fire.

  2. Now that is something I have always wanted to do…so much to learn and equipment to find! How nice having Bill’s studio available! Thanks again for all your posts!

  3. At what temporature do you fire the glass to polish it? Some people etch glass and fire polish it with the intention of leaving it sort of milky or opal rather than back to a purely transparent state.

    • Hi Chris,
      Re. firepolishing. I take the glass up to 675 degrees Celsius (approx 1250F I think) and soak for 15mins. You can try a slightly lower temp and longer soak. Since all kilns are different, and you’re aiming for such a precise temperature (you want the glass to ‘polish’ but you don’t want to pick up too much kiln shelf texture on the back side) it’s best to run a couple of tests on the same type and thickness of glass first.
      Just to frustrate the perfectionist, some glasses are softer and will firepolish at a lower temperature/shorter soak. Same with thinner pieces. If your results seem to be inconsistent despite careful tests, make sure that your kiln heats evenly over it’s entire area. Some kilns are cooler at corners and edges. Good luck!

      • Thanks, Debra. I sandblasted some samples of Lamberts and GNA then heated them to 1325 with no soak. It took the dull gray sandblast look out leaving them clear and sparkly, but still with the pitted sandblast texture. Something to file away, but not what I was after. I’ll probably use a light mat of obscuring white instead. I’m not fond of the stuff. It seems to be really difficult to mat smoothly. It doesn’t flow and settle out like other paints. It’s like trying to mat with mayonnaise even thinned out. I could use a paint gun or airbrush, but I’ll just take my chances with a blender.

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