Picture a glass trophy that has a design etched or engraved in its surface. Sandcarving, also known as sandblasting, is the process used to produce that effect. It is one of the simplest and most accessible methods for personalizing or decorating glass, crystal, marble, stone and other surfaces. And, with a low entry cost, sandcarving is surprisingly affordable.
The Sandcarving Process
The sandcarving process is relatively straightforward. First, a photomask is applied to the surface that’s being carved. Then, an abrasive, sand-like material (such as aluminum oxide) is propelled onto that surface. The abrasive carves the surface only in the open areas of the stencil, while the areas covered by the photomask remain smooth and spotless. As a result, the impression made in the glass, crystal or stone cleanly follows the pattern of the photomask.
Anyone who has the right sandcarving equipment can easily produce intricate, three-dimensional designs on glass, crystal, marble, stone and other surfaces. The finished product can be kept for personal enjoyment, or sold for a profit.
Sandcarving as a business
Sandcarving is an important technique for the decorative, architectural and recognition industries. The specialized segments of these industries that rely on sandcarving include:
- Ad specialty
- Trophies and awards
- Stained glass
- Architectural glass and restoration
There are other etching and engraving techniques, such as cream etching, hand cutting, engraving with tools, diamond cutting, wheel cutting and laser engraving—but all of these have some limitations relative to sandcarving. For the most part, sandcarving is the most versatile of these techniques, because it can be used to produce very simple or very complex designs.
The finished sandcarved product also has a higher perceived value in the marketplace. What would you rather have to commemorate an accomplishment: a low-end wall plaque that’s easily replicated, or an intricately engraved crystal trophy? Most consumers feel the same way, which is why the demand for sandcarved glass, crystal, marble, granite gifts, trophies and awards is quickly replacing the demand for carved wood, engraved metal and other etched products.