Exploring the Art of Sandblasting

Some artists, having studied glass at University have proceeded to take on some wonderful commissions for glass sandblasting in architecture. Artist Marie-Therese King is such an artist this is a technique she explored and very much enjoyed incorporating into her portfolio of works, loving the alternative artistic flair it has allowed her to achieve. Using the added dimensions of light, King has been able to create a series of panels for doors, windows, partitions and fanlights in varying architectural locations, using different depths of sandblasted glass. Although this technique is sometimes known as abrasive sandblasting there is nothing abrasive about the results it can achieve. Much of the work King has been commissioned with, has shared similar influences to her batik work, so naturally the decorative, sinuous curves of plants, flowers and birds has played a role of artistic freedom in these designs.

Working with glass is always rather a privilege and when we see the work of artists like Rene Lalique (1860-1945) most of us are in awe of his intricate skills. Although renowned as both a jeweller and designer, maybe not someone we necessarily always associate with sandblasting, nevertheless he was a glass maker and we think most people probably associate him with his glass works and the stunning perfume bottles he created. His attention to detail established him as one of the most significant Art Nouveau artists at the turn of the century and he was certainly one of the leading artists using glass in architecture and we are big fans !

The sand blasting process involves smoothing, shaping and cleaning the glass and then etching the designs onto the glass. The harder the pressure the deeper the etching can be achieved which provides a wonderful sharp three dimensional effect to works. Somehow this seems to bring nature alive in an even more realistic manner as the works become so interactive with their environment, taking on new appearances, colours and shapes depending on the light and dark wherever they are situated.

One of Marie-Therese King’s larger commissions was for a Jewellers front window, called Parry’s. She took on the commission of transforming this traditional shop with a stylish Art Nouveau themed window, which she was inspired to replicate no doubt through her love of nature and flowing shapes and patterns. The method of glass etching enabled her to create a frontispiece that is almost stage like, as if the curtains are just lifting to reveal all the treasures of the stage and of course customers need to come in to see more! Sales went up by 50% after the transformation, so obviously customers loved it as much as the artist herself.

King also had the opportunity to design eight huge panels for St. Mary & The Holy Trinity Church in Dodford, which was a huge honour. These pieces really do highlight the beauty and power of light as it shines through the beautiful stained glass windows enhancing the birds on the branches of the etched glass. Etching onto glass means you do consider what will appear behind your work, more so than painting works on canvas – you are creating a work of art that interacts with light, is 3D and interacts with people and almost takes on a life of its own after you leave it, which is a wonderful feeling.

So never be afraid to explore new artistic techniques, there may be something out there that will inspire you as much as sandblasting has for other artists.

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