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SQ - Volume 2, Number 2 1998

Volume 2, Number 2 • 1998

Randy Willis

April Sparr

Contributing Writers
Kathy Bradford
Art Aguilar
Jim Jones
Billy Willis


Siphon vs. Pressure Pots, Part II

Words To Live By
Avoiding Shipwreck

Sales Strategies
Product for a Target Market

Tips and Secrets
Laser Film


Words to Live By
Avoiding Shipwreck
by Roger Souders, President

I would like to introduce myself to you by speaking to you about our company and some general principles for business and life. Let me start by thanking you; your belief in and support of Rayzist products and services has contributed to building Rayzist into the leader of sandcarving products and in creating a brand name that is recognized globally.

Keeping the Boat Afloat
We have enjoyed steady growth over the years and could assume that our customers are satisfied and everything is fine with our product. The management of the Titanic had this kind of mind set which proved to be disastrous. The bottom line is, we are all in the same boat and if you, our customers, are not a success in reaching your goals, then neither are we. I believe that this truth holds true with you and your customers as well. On the subject of customers, we will do well if we continually remind ourselves that the greatest products and services are worthless without them. It is very easy to take pride in our products and services; I believe this is a good thing. Pride, however, should follow and be the result of taking pride in our customers satisfaction. Thinking you have the best boat in the ocean can cause you to spring a leak. On the other hand, when our customers have become satisfied then we know our products and services are good.

Structural Integrity
The actual reason the Titanic sank was due to poor judgment and a flaw in the internal structure of the ship. But perhaps the larger problem was the thought "we’re unsinkable." If you allow yourself to think this way, you stop making sure things are working right and forget that the success of others is dependent on you. This is called complacency. Keeping grease in the bearings and believing you can improve will give you the integrity to make it to your future destination. Simply put, complacency kills.

Keeping Ship Shape
At some point in our relationship, you may not have been completely satisfied with our products or service. In some cases we hear about it and some we don’t. Too often criticism is viewed from a negative perspective instead of an important ingredient for improvement. Making needed corrections in your course is many times encouraged by criticism. Criticism at the time given, is rarely viewed as something positive. It is only after one has used it for improvement that it is referred to as "constructive criticism". Viewing criticism as an opportunity to repair and improve can calm the seas and make for smoother sailing. Thanks to all of you who have helped us improve the ride along the way: we’re still afloat and on course.

Clearing Away the Fog
It is important not to stray away from the settings on your compass. Most small businesses become successful because they build relationships and deliver customer satisfaction. As business begins to grow, the demands to stick with your original settings become more difficult. You have heard the saying "being busy is a good problem." But that’s just it, there is a problem. The fog can come rolling in, and before you know it, you’re off course. There is no easy prevention. Just more hard work so as not to loose focus on what’s important and what first made you a success. Take time to think about these words, "We’re in the same boat and we need each other to get to where we are going." We can go a long way in life if we are living by these words with our families, friends, and business relationships.

Editor’s Note: Roger Souders comes to Rayzist Photomask from the Easton company, a premiere manufacturer of sporting equipment, where he served as President for 7 years. He has been working with Rayzist for the past two years as Vice President of Operations. Randy Willis is still the owner of Rayzist Photomask and has moved into a full time position as President of Honor Life Memorials, a wholesale monument and service company.

Siphon versus Pressure Pots Part II
by Kathy Bradford, contributing writer

Drink.jpg (8417 bytes)When I read last quarter’s story on "Siphon vs. Pressure Pots" in the Sandcarving Quarterly, I was so offended by its content, that I wrote a letter to the editor explaining that some of the information was not accurate. Of course, in all fairness, Randy Willis called me and asked if I would write an article to explain why I felt the way I did. In last quarter’s article, (Fall 1997, Vol.2, No.1) Art Aguilar compared the siphon system to the pressure pot as one might compare "taking a bullet and throwing it at someone, (siphon system)" to "sticking the same bullet in a gun and pulling the trigger (pressure pot)." My response was, "yes, a good way to murder your work."

Use of a Siphon System
A siphon blaster can be just as powerful as a pressure pot, especially when sending 160 lbs. of air through it. However, since the siphon nozzle is larger, it takes quite a bit more sustained pressure to achieve what a pressure pot can do more easily. A siphon system pulls its air directly from the compressor, whereas the pressure pot compresses both the abrasive and the air. A siphon system normallyRocket.jpg (7254 bytes) requires significantly more time to achieve the same results as a pressure pot since the user may have to wait for pressure to build up again and again . I submit to you that a well equipped studio would have both systems, enabling the artist to use the appropriate piece of equipment for the job.

The Difference
If a project requires a lot of carving, then the pressure pot would be the most effective tool (as in the case with most photomask jobs). Frequently, large, open areas of a photomask can be carved all over the work at the same time. This of course would speed up production. The other advantage of a pressure pot is that it can be set at any pressure you want, even a very low pressure, and be held consistently. A siphon system’s pressure is controlled by squeezing the trigger of the hand piece. The user is able to squeeze it ever so slightly, to the point of emitting individual granules of abrasive. The more the user squeezes, the more pressure and abrasive is released. One actually has infinite control in the amount of pressure being used. However, it is easy enough to squeeze too hard and possibly damage your work.

The real beauty of the siphon system is the issue of control. When carving artistic pieces in the absence of a photomask, a pressure pot’s delay from the foot pedal to the nozzle is not nearly accurate enough for delicate work. Some pressure pots offer a "dead man" device which is a piece of metal covering the nozzle. I have not used one of these but I understand that they have to be held in the "on" position for the duration of blasting (much like a siphon), and they are heavy and cumbersome to work with. Still, they may be a satisfactory solution for some carvers. You might compare a siphon system to an air brush. Even though it is larger than an airbrush, you can still achieve very small detail easily. For instance, due to the delay of a pressure pot’s footswitch, it may be more desirable to bring the hand piece of a siphon system right up to the spot you want to work on (such as an animal’s eye) and achieve the most delicate results. A siphon system is invaluable for last minute corrections and its instant on/off capabilities make for very controlled shading. It quits when you want it to, not half a second later. I consider the siphon system to be the tool of choice for very delicate work. Use the pressure pot for simpler, broader designs, usually involving a photomask. Many of the best known sandblast artists out there are using a siphon system. If you had a chance to ask why, they will all tell you the same thing - control.

Tips & Secrets
Laser Film
by Billy Willis, contributing writer

Laser FilmFilms.jpg (24033 bytes)
Laser Film is a new product Rayzist Photomask is supplying for sandcarvers who require maximum detail quality for their in house photo resist processing. This new laser film produces the same quality photomasks you could expect if using a film positive for much less than a forth of the cost. Additionally, laser film has the same conveniences that you are used to when using vellum; easily used with either a laser printer or a copy machine. Unlike vellum however, laser film has only one printable (matte) side.

Better than Vellum
As with a film positive, laser film will allow you to achieve twice the fine line detail of a vellum with any photo resist product simply because it is twice as translucent. This allows twice the ultra violet light to pass through to the photo resist film resulting in sharper, clearer, images... particularly if you are using SR 2000TM photo resist material.

Better than Transparencies
Use laser film when printing photo halftones or when small fonts (10 points or smaller, usually upper and lower case, and/or thin serifs) are required. If you have tried using a transparency film for your high resolution detail or halftones, then you more than likely have encountered two main problems: 1) Opacity - transparencies tend not to be very opaque, frequently fading toward the center of bolder areas within the design. As with any film tool, areas where the blacks are not dense enough will not wash out clean. It will appear to be "stubborn" and may incur long wash out times. 2) Durability- the toner on transparency film tends to flake off easily, eliminating the chance for repeat usage. Laser film holds opacity very well: in testing the product, we found that even on older printers, the density of the blacks held better than on vellum using the same designs. While the toner on laser film can be scratched like a transparency, it will not arbitrarily flake off. We recommend you handle your printed laser film with care for precautionary measures.

Why it Works
Laser film has a special coating resulting in a highly translucent milky appearance. This special coating is what becomes the receptive layer (matte side) for printing artwork. The back side, or clear side, has a unique anti-static treatment to allow for problem free printing or copying. The high fusing temperature of either your laser printer or copier actually maximizes and seals the toner deposits for sufficient density while the laser film is passing through.

Sales Strategies
Product for a Target Market
by Jim Jones, contributing writer

Have you noticed lately that some really good carving ideas seem to keep jumping into your head? Like most people, if you spent time trying to develop every good idea that came to your mind, you would likely never get anything accomplished. Sometimes the curse of a carver’s brain is the feeling of always "spinning your wheels." The cure of course, is learning where to focus your efforts.

Where to Start
One of the problems with carvers (especially newer carvers) is that the amount of excellent ideas for carving product can often seem overwhelming. Most of you are thinking, "I’ve been there!" Perhaps you haven’t settled into a product line yet. Maybe you don’t even know what you want to produce. Focusing on a product line or a basic theme will help you determine which jobs you want to do and which ones you really don’t want to do. So, how do you get from great ideas, to producing something, to getting it sold?

Doing What you Enjoy
Everybody thinks that you have to start with the product. Sometimes it helps to start at the other end. If you are having a problem with selling product, ask yourself these questions: What market would I enjoy selling in? Do I have an advantage in any particular market? Do I have knowledge of or know someone in a particular market? The right answers to these questions can save time and frustration. There are too many people who don’t seem to enjoy there vocation, don’t you be one of them. People should sense that you really like what you are doing. Ultimately, this will help you to sell better. Enthusiasm encourages others to get excited about what you are producing and helps your customer to see the value much more clearly. Does it matter to you whether or not you enjoy what you are doing? Working in a market that you enjoy makes it that much more worthwhile. Why carve cars all day if you hate cars? Why not carve trees if you love trees? In carving, it is fairly easy to tailor your own market. Look at mood rocks for example: regardless of the region they are sold in, they seem to do quite well. The sayings or slogans may vary from place to place and they can be sold anywhere from grocery stores to mail order magazines. Their price may even vary from $3.00 to $33.00 or more depending upon size and where they are being sold, but their popularity seems to remain constant. This is a good example of an item carvers have made "trendy" in the ’90’s. It is possible that like the Chia Pet of the ’60’s, people will eventually not want them any more. However, the great advantage of being a carver is that the nation on the whole is not really aware of carved product to begin with. In most industries this could be considered detrimental, but in carving, it can work well to our advantage. Consequently, it is probably easier to tailor your own market then you thought. Additionally, trends enable you to "ride that wave" for years to come and seem to always have a way of reviving after they have long been forgotten.

Targeting Your Market
Is foreknowledge important in targeting your market? If you take your past experiences and use them for your present endeavors, don’t you think your present action will be stronger, better, more meaningful? For instance, if you like and know guns, carve guns and market into where the gun crowd goes. When it comes to getting product sold, ask yourself a few more questions: Is there someone out there that I know who can help me to get my product marketed? Where are they? What is the market? My sister lives in Lake Havasu City, AZ. She owns a bridal shop in the British Village where the London Bridge is. If you were me, this might be someone who could help your marketing efforts. I can see flutes, plates, and curved glass being sold at this shop. If one of my friends or neighbors had a home party business, I’d be talking to them about adding glass and crystal to their line. The point here is that you can reach a target market through people that you already know. You are way ahead of the game if you can reach into a market that you know you will enjoy. Using your knowledge and experience, finding out if you know someone in a particular industry, or fields related to that industry, will help you to market very specific products. In the end, this makes it easier for you to start thinking about product you want to produce.

More Ideas
I have spoken to you in the past about carving fish and game pieces and seeing your local outdoorsman shops. What about placing fish carvings in your local landings where the charters are? How about mail order catalogs that cater to the outdoorsman? We have spoken in the past about the bridal industry. Unless you absolutely do not want a thing to do with carving flutes, plates, and frames, this is a great place to start. Get your carvings where the brides, grooms, and bridal parties will see them. This is a highly visible, highly lucrative business and is easy for new carvers to tap. How about a bridal fair or a bridal trade show? They really do have them all over the nation and there is plenty of room for competition among carvers. Here’s a great idea: How about a direct mailer into any industry that you want to target by using the yellow pages? If you would like carving motorcycles, there are a lot of motorcycle shops in the yellow pages. The same goes for animals. Have you ever thought about selling product through a veterinarian? A beautiful carving of a cocker spaniel is going to sell where the owners of cocker spaniels go. A very close friend of mine sells a lot of product through a chiropractic office. Pet stores may be very open to adding a gift type of section to their counter display. What about high schools? Every single one of them need to raise money for something. Why not contact the student government board and find out what the souvenir for the senior prom is? Every class usually has its own major event or dance. Perhaps a blasted mug with the school logo or flute for the prom may be in order. How about doing recognition awards for the school’s different clubs, athletic teams, or the marching band? For that matter, why not find out what the grammar schools, colleges and churches in your area are up to. Most all of them, at the very least, have a book store where gift items are often sold. Ideas for targeting a market can be as numerous and inventive as the ideas for carving product. Bridal, fish, game, corporate awards, awards of recognition, household pets, newborns, trophies, and custom or classic cars are just a few ideas.

Hitting the Mark
I believe that it is important that you go into markets that you know you will enjoy. It is important that you use your knowledge and experience, and do the one thing that people tend to forget: Get people you know to help you market your product! If you’re not having as much fun with the selling of your product as you are with the making of your product, then remember, there’s always sales representatives.

© Copyright 1999 Rayzist Photomask

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