Volume 38, Issue 2, February 2003

Can’t Get to the Shows?
Expert Relays the Latest Trends 
in Sandblasting
by Lori Mitchell

Photo courtesy of Butch Young.

My father, Jerry Howard, established Glastar Corp. in 1978 and added sandblasting to the product line in 1989. During the last two-and-a-half years, I have traveled all over the United States, Europe and Mexico exhibiting at countless trade shows. 

I know that many of you cannot close up shop and go running around the world to see what’s new in the industry, so I hope some of my experiences and observations will help you plan for the future and assist in expanding your business.

What’s New in the West
Photo courtesy of Butch Young.

In the Western end of our country, particularly California and Nevada, sandblasting can be seen in almost every hotel, restaurant, bar and casino. Additionally, mid-range to high-end entryways, doors and skylights, residential or commercial, have decorative sandblasting products on display. Even automobile and RV windows can utilize custom sandblasting to fit any personality. 

When working in a well-saturated market, the ability to do original custom artwork is essential to success. Shower doors and bath enclosures continue to be popular. In fact, displays by numerous companies at trade shows exhibit a wide range of artistic and innovative designs. 

“I contract more and more orders for ‘Old World’ scenes and designs that match existing decors,” said Nolan Everitt of Nolan Everitt Designs, a well-known California studio. 

However, Everitt adds that it is difficult to find competent sandblasters to do this type of work. “
Due to the vast amount of competition in the Western part of the United States, quality artwork is what the customer wants,” he said. 

Unique to the East
Moving eastward to the mid-section of the country, there is an abundance of plate glass shops. New sandblasting applications in constructions for both commercial and residential jobs are beginning to thrive. 

ART1Photo courtesy of Butch Young.

“Shower doors, bath enclosures, entry doors or windows are a natural for most plate glass shops,” said Norm Dobbins of Professional Glass Consultants, an internationally known sandblast artist and author. “These shops already have knowledge of local construction codes, structural knowledge and installation experience. The biggest problem is the lack of competent instruction in decorative sandblasting techniques.” 

Dobbins and his wife, Ruth, give instructional seminars all over the country and at countless trade shows. 

“The vast majority of people doing sandblasting do not teach classes,” said Dobbins. “I find it rare when a representative from a plate glass shop attends a local trade show—much less exhibits his work.”

The Eastern section has its own unique style. Sandblasting is found in common places such as restaurants and hotels. However the most spectacular artwork is located in high-end homes. Also, a significant portion of work in this area is restorations. 

“We have found that in the past few months, there is a strong trend toward neo-classic designs. These range from the Fleur De Lis to very intricate Victorian scrollwork,” said Sheri Law of Sheri Law Art Glass Ltd., a professional sandblasting studio in business for 30 years. “Another emerging trend is the addition of color to etching in ornamental designs such as landscapes, foliage or custom signage.” 

Latest Machines Unveiled at glasstec
SIT-DOWNCAB I recently returned from the glasstec show in Düsseldorf, Germany, which boasts nine halls full of every kind of glass work imaginable. The displays of computer-guided sandblasting machines were everywhere, including everything from small cabinets to large blasting rooms. These machines come with a hefty price tag, however, and the blaster does not even have to get his hands dirty. It seems the sandblaster of the future will need to have design, engineering, structural, construction, installation and computer skills. 

Another point of interest was the variety of hardware, still a large source of income for sandblasters all over the world. The detailed works of art carved from large blocks of glass and custom waterfalls or fountains, which incorporated decorative sandblasting, were quite spectacular. 

So, while you may not get the time to travel to various trade shows to see the latest equipment and trends in sandblasting, know that the industry is evolving continually and holds a wealth of opportunities for those involved in this unique process. 


LORI Lori Mitchell is the chief executive officer for Glastar Corp., based in Chatsworth, Calif.


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