Introduction – Glass etching in the woods
As an Arts & Crafts teacher at Brown Ledge Summer Camp in Vermont, I am always on the lookout for new methods for campers to create media. Once I saw David Schulte’s glass etching blog on the Vaniman website, I was immediately intrigued, but had several reservations:
- Is the sandblaster safe?
- Is it easy enough for kids to use and enjoy?
- Does it require complicated and expensive maintenance?
- Can it withstand the Vermont humidity and messy conditions of a summer camp?
After talking on the phone with Vaniman, my worries were put to rest. Their helpful team gave me full instructions on the unit and how truly simple it is.
This simplicity, they said, not only made it easy to use, but also to maintain. Wear parts were designed to be easily and inexpensively replaced, and controls were intuitive to the user.
I also learned that while David’s ability and results were extraordinary, the blaster could be used with stencils to allow for easy use. A week later I was setting up a Problast 2 and an AbrasiveVac in Vermont.
Setup was easy. All I had to do was fill the tanks with abrasive — one tank with smaller abrasive and one with larger to allow for some variation in glass etching.
Using the white 2-1/2” hose, I connected the blaster to Vaniman’s Accumulator. As we found out, this collects media before it can make it to the vacuum, saving on filters. After connecting the blaster to an air compressor using some fittings found at the local hardware store (Vaniman’s blog on air connection was very helpful), I flipped the light switch and was ready to go.
Time to start glass etching
We printed out stencils using a Cricut Vinyl Cutter in the shapes of different activities at camp and even taped plastic stencils that we had on hand to the glass holding them in place.
At first, the kids were nervous to use this industrial looking machine. But once done with their first piece, they were quick to prepare a second for etching.
After a full day of blasting, we didn’t have a single issue — just tons of smiling kids and beautiful artwork.
After seeing the kids have all of the fun, some of the counselors joined in. It’s a tradition at this camp to create awards for campers’ advanced achievements, some of the awards taking hours to construct.
Woodburning had always been the method of choice, but the sandblaster provided a new option. Several counselors took advantage and created professional looking awards in a short amount of time.
We love this addition to our Arts and Crafts arsenal, and are excited to continue to experiment. Thanks to Vaniman for your assistance and helping us think outside the box!