sandblasting

In the Window by Sasha Ward

Left, roadside front window before. Right, kitchen window.

Left, roadside front window before. Right, kitchen window.

As you can see in the two pictures above, the windows in my friend’s new house have restricted views. At the back, the kitchen looks on to a concrete wall with tiles and objects positioned wherever they fit. At the front, there is a busy stretch of main road and a pavement close up to the low window. Although she has made it look great with her objects and stick on patterns, she wanted some pieces of my glass in front of the window to block the traffic in a more colourful way.

This was after seeing the rows of random samples I always have in my studio window, slotted into wooden grooves fitted across the window frames. At the moment (below right) I have my most recent samples, some colour test strips and a few samples that stay every time I have a reshuffle so I suppose they must be my favourites. I’ve used grooved wood for shelves in the window since I was a student at the Royal College of Art (years ago, picture below left), with a great view of the Albert Hall and a changing display of the pieces I was painting on top of a backlit piece of glass.

Left, my window at The Royal College of Art in 1985. Right, my studio window this week (2019).

Left, my window at The Royal College of Art in 1985. Right, my studio window this week (2019).

Left, roadside window after. Right, colours through the glass.

Left, roadside window after. Right, colours through the glass.

Choosing glass offcuts or old samples, cutting them up and arranging them in a row is like making a fragment-style stained glass window. That is, anything looks OK but there is an art to the ordering and cropping. These pieces are big at 400 mm tall, and from many different periods so I did a bit of work to unite them with two rows of circles sandblasted out and filled with green enamel. It means that you can still play around with the order and orientation of the pieces. The best part, as always, was seeing the colours projected through the glass on to the carpet in the afternoon sun (above right).

Detail of three panels, originally samples for The Centre Livingston, private house & Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Detail of three panels, originally samples for The Centre Livingston, private house & Manchester Children’s Hospital.

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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