Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sandblasting Glass Part II

I thought I'd elaborate on my previous post and supply a little more information on the sandblasting.

Firstly, the title of this post and the preceding one are a little bit of a misnomer (though technically correct) as no sand is involved.  Sandblasting using sand (i.e., silica sand) is a method of etching glass, but not the one I used.  I used aluminium oxide (an alternative abrasive to sand) to etch my glass.  [As an aside, did you know that sandpaper is usually made from aluminium oxide and not sand?]

Why did I choose to use aluminium oxide over silica sand?  Well, the research I did on the types of abrasive that could be used indicated that silica dust particles generated during blasting with sand are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs. This inhalation can cause a number of health problems, including silicosis and lung cancer (both of which can be fatal).  If you are using silica sand, you must take precautions so that you don't breath in ANY of the dust. For example, by using fully enclosed cabinet held under negative pressure that filters out the air discharged from the cabinet.  These types of cabinets allow you stand at a safe distance from the abrasive and manipulate equipment and items in the cabinet with the arms and hands in sealed gloved armholes.   The make-shift cabinet I pictured in my previous post would not qualify as it is neither fully enclosed nor under negative pressure.

Aluminum oxide is an alternative abrasive that doesn't contain silica and therefore is a safer option than silica sand.  You should still wear respiratory protection and take other appropriate precautions when working with aluminum oxide because it does generates dust.  Eye protection is also important because the abrasive particles can cause serious injury if they strike your eyes.  Despite having the box that contained a lot of the dust (and allowed me to collect the aluminum oxide for reuse), I still did my blasting outdoors, wearing thick rubber gloves, a dust mask and eye protection.

OK, lecture over - time for a project.  A wine glass I etched with a beaver (the official emblem of Canada) as a present for a friend's birthday (she's going to be mad at me because we are not supposed to exchange gifts). First, here's a picture of  glass covered with the vinyl stencil that I cut using my Cricut Expresssion, extra vinyl and masking tape added to protect the areas on the glass that I didn't want etched:

Here's the wine glass after it was blasted and the vinyl and masking tape was removed:

I am very happy with the details that showed up after the blasting:

Supplies Used:
Cricut Expression & Cricut CraftRoom Application
Go Canada Cartridge (beaver)
Sans Serif Cartridge (stretched # for beaver's tail)
Outdoor grade vinyl (scraps from a sign shop) 
Wine glass
Masking tape
Aluminium oxide.


Bad Kitty said...


free2danz1960 said...

is it possible to use my cricut with using the cartridges. What is the cratroom used for. I do have that saved to my computer.