Recently, someone wanted to know how I sandblast my stone pendants. I did a tutorial on my personal blog but not on Love My Art Jewelry, so for this post I thought I would share my process.
First, it took about a year to even start sandblasting. I did tons of research, and then we went to work building or modifying all the equipment. It was very frustrating for me because I had a hard time understanding the mechanics. Thanks to my husband explaining to me hundreds of times, we finally figured it out! I still get confused with how my OWN equipment works! Then, I had to learn how the special film worked. What a pain! I went through tons because it wouldn't expose or develop right. Luckily, the companies I work with give you samples to experiment with. Even today, after five years, I still have issues with the film.
I really do enjoy this creative process though, and over the years have found many ways to use my sandblaster, including creating stamps for porcelain. (My current new obsession)
Here is the simplified version: You apply a stencil to a product and then sandblast the stencil image with a special abrasive applied at high pressure. The abrasive then erodes the surface in the open areas of the stencil and leaves a permanent carved impression.
Simple right? Umm, ya right. Here are the visual steps.
I either draw the image I want or I use a royalty-free graphic. I then upload the image to Photoshop where I darken it and scale it down to the size I like. Now it is ready to be printed on a special type of vellum paper shown below.
My father is an electrician, so together with my husband, we built this lightbox to expose the film. These are fluorescent black light bulbs.
The next step is to expose. I place the special film (I'm currently using Rayzist as my film supplier) on top of the vellum and turn the light on for 30 seconds.
After exposing, the next step is to pressure wash with warm water to develop the film. I use Ikonics Triggerjet and it works like a charm. You can buy washout boxes or just use a sink or shower.
Step FourI then place the stencil in my handy dandy Nesco food dehydrator. The alternative is using a photoresist film dryer or you can also use a blow dryer.
Step FiveAfter the film is dry, I remove the carrier sheet and apply to the pendant.
I then position the film and remove the protective carrier sheet. I wrap the film around the stone and tape the back so the stone doesn't get damaged in the sandblasting process.
The next step is to sandblast the piece. I bought this equipment from a very nice gentleman who hand makes these out of Texas. We modified it to use a foot pedal so there is better control and installed a smaller more fine tuned tip for blasting.
When I sandblast, I use a half mask respirator, eye protection, and cover my hair. I also open the garage door for ample ventilation.
The final step is to airbrush, or hand paint the sandblasted piece with the film still on. I use non toxic acrylic paint with metallic colors. I then spray a coating of acrylic top coat to seal in the paint and to give it a shine.
I let the piece sit over night so it's nice and dry and then I remove the film and clean the stone.
There you have it! You can buy sandblasting equipment, but at the time I started it was very costly. Maybe the prices are better today? That's why we decided to build our own setup. I'm glad we did because if a part breaks, we can fix it ourselves. Well, my husband. He fixes it. Ha!
Thank you for reading!