Sandcarving is a method of decorating or personalizing glass, crystal, marble, stone, plastic, wood and the like. Sandcarving, often referred to as "sandblasting" has been used for many decades in the decorative and architectural industries. In order to transfer a design to an item, a “mask” or stencil is required. In the early days, this industry had to design, trace, and then cut the stencil by hand (until machine plotting became available) in order to produce the image being engraved.

Photo resist technology was first introduced into the market in the early 1980's. The ability to create stencils photographically instead of manually began to revolutionize the sandcarving industry. Now businesses could create their own sandcarving stencils in just a fraction of the time it used to take. Although photo resist film is expensive compared to the traditional hand cut vinyl and rubber mask materials, the image detail possible with these methods cannot compare to images cut by hand.

In addition to consistency and detail, with sandcarving, we can create simple to complex multi-stage carvings for a three dimensional effect in just minutes. Alternatives such as laser engraving, rotating engraving tools, or diamond cutting, are fine for some materials, but sandcarving gives us one more personalization tool that is particulary appropriate for glass, crystal, marble and granite.

Sandcarving Equipment and Examples

Sandcarving Cabinet

The Cabinet is primarily a containment vessel. The design we transfer to the target is accomplished using an abrasive (sand) under pressure. Without the cabinet, we would have safety issues, not the least of which would be inhaling dust. The compressor used to convey the sand to abraid the target surface is not shown.

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Vase inside the Cabinet

Image descriptionSandcarving is achieved by propelling abrasive (usually aluminum oxide) onto a surface (usually glass) under compressed air. Wherever the abrasive contacts its surface, it roughens and subsequently erodes that surface. When used with a photomask (stencil), sandcarving can quickly and effectively reproduce a wide range of personalization, designs, and logos on numerous surfaces with phenomenal detail.

Curved Glass Surfaces

Image descriptionThe curved glass award (left) is particularly suited to sandcarving. The radius of the glass is too large to be comfortably lasered, but that is not an issue with sandcarving. The glass (below) is another perfect fit for sandcarving. The compound curved surface can be perfectly detailed with this method.

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Image descriptionThe size and weight of this piece is not an issue with sandcarving. The piece will fit into the cabinet and can be personalized. Depth can be an issue with stone, but with sandcarving, additional depth is achieved by making additional passes with the abrasive.



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We didn't have a family crest to experiment with (ideal for a glass or crystal gift), but we did find some stylized iris for this test piece. If you have a crest or other art in a crisp black and white format, it could easily be transferred to glass or stone with sandcarving.