Epic Sandblasting / by Sasha Ward

 Ten versions of my design for the left hand door, the design is mirrored for the right hand one.

Ten versions of my design for the left hand door, the design is mirrored for the right hand one.

The epic sandblasting project is for the Moravian Church in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, currently being renovated by the Friends of Athelstan Museum. My brief was for a design to be sandblasted onto two huge (2.5 x 1.8 m) internal sliding glass doors at either side of the building. The design chosen by the Friends from my initial sketches is the one that was considered the most simple - top middle in the set above.

 Computer cut adhesive vinyl stencils, weeding out the design before applying stencils to glass.

Computer cut adhesive vinyl stencils, weeding out the design before applying stencils to glass.

There will be more about the design and the building itself when the renovation is finished, this post describes the process we used to sandblast the doors. Normally I do my sandblasting in a booth in my shed or, for bigger projects, at a glass processing factory. In this case we wanted to avoid moving the heavy toughened doors from place to place, so all the stages had to come to the glass which was laid out on pallets under a carport belonging to the hospitable building contractor. The photos below show the glass in the picturesque carport, we have applied the stencils and in the back corner Ray is tidying up the edges.

 Glass doors covered with vinyl stencils under a carport near Malmesbury.

Glass doors covered with vinyl stencils under a carport near Malmesbury.

To do the actual blasting I hired Terry who had a generator towed by his van, in the back of the van was the hopper full of white blasting grit. I banged the hopper (every type I have ever used seems to get blocked at some point) while Terry blasted the panels. The workplace was filled with beautiful colours - pink van, yellow stillage and hose, blue stencils, purple carpet - although for once the artwork would be monochrome.

 Sandblasting in progress

Sandblasting in progress

 Lifting a corner of the stencil to check the sandblasted marks; glass arrives at the Moravian Church.

Lifting a corner of the stencil to check the sandblasted marks; glass arrives at the Moravian Church.

 Stencils are pulled off the glass and discarded in a heap.

Stencils are pulled off the glass and discarded in a heap.

The glass doors were taken straight from the carport to the church and installed in channels on the floor and the balcony above. I saw them in daylight (below right) then changing in tone and throwing shadow patterns when the sun came out (below left). When the doors are in the open position, they slide across a row of white cupboard doors so the design is always on view. The quality of the sandblasted detail is excellent and everyone is pleased with the result. The doors look just right for the space and I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful interior fully renovated.

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