Sand blasting instruction in New England?

I’d like some practical instruction in sand blasting. If there’s
anyone in New England who would like to show me how to do this,
please reply to me personally with details.

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts

Dear Christine, It is sometimes hard to give advice blind, so I’m not
sure this is what you are looking for. Their is a sandblasting
approach that I think is very interesting and has a lot of potential
for jewelry and gem work especially. This is more in the area of
advanced sandblasting to generate images and the like, instead of
the basic surface spritz of bead blasting that most jewelers are
familiar with. Glass artists use this material and process and I
haven’t yet noticed it applied to metals or stone.

Their is a company called PhotoBrasive Systems in Duluth, Minnesota.
Phone is 218-628-2002. Email is and web
site <>.

They make a wide range of UV sensitive sandblasting masks that can
be developed sort of like a contact print in photography. They
conduct workshops around the country in how to use their products
(called the Sandcarving School of Photo Resist). They also have an
instructional video, which I haven’t seen, but I think it may be
free with a sample order of their stuff.

I will be talking more about this product as well as other things in
my two day workshop in Tucson the weekend before the gem show,
February 1-2. The main topic is the development of production work
using jewelry industry technology as a studio jeweler.

You may also want to check in with Karen Christians at Metalwerx in
Woburn, MA. She runs a school that gives workshops and she is a
frequent Orchid participant. I don’t know if she teaches
sandblasting or has the equipment. Her website is

Happy blasting,
Don Friedlich

An alternative to sandblasting would be a rotary texture wheel. They
go on the spindle of the polishing machine. Can’t think of the actual
name of them at the moment, but they look like those big paint
remover wheels you’d see at the hardware store, but scaled down to
jewelry application size. A spool with horizontal rows of straight
stainless steel wires loosely fixed like spokes going around a wheel,
spokes that aren’t attached to anything on the outer ends. The wires
fly around like mad, striking the metal, producing a nice variety of
textures without any directional lines. From soft and satiny to a
dramatic bright bead blasted look (depending on the gauge of the
wire), it looks exactly the same as sandblasting! Easy to use,
nowhere as expensive as a sand blaster/compressor set-up and doesn’t
take up any extra room in the shop. Just be sure to wear safety
glasses and a mask. The wires occasionally break off and fly. I had
one impale my nose once…Ouch! …sort of like random acupuncture


Don, thanks for the info. The PhotoBrasive Systems products sound
interesting. For now I am interested primarily in cutting the
surface of plastic and glass, but I’m also aware of and like the
finish to metals that you get with the surface spritz of bead
blasting. I can imagine the possibilities for metal or stone.

I’m also the kind of person who learns very well by watching and
doing, or following a set of instructions; I’m not so good at just
experimenting; I have to make myself try things if I’m totally
unfamiliar with them. For example, I just bought a PanaPress from
Ebay (really good price) and I have no idea how to use the damn
thing, but I’ve heard so often how handy they are that I finally
succumbed to buying one because I intend to do a lot of stamping (and
I’m not about to buy a Bonny Doon, which would be overkill anyway,
but always very useful). So now, I’m stymied by the fact that the ram
has a 17/64 round hole in the bottom and none of my stamps
automatically fit that hole, so I guess I have to modify them.

I’ll definitely check out the PhotoBrasive website. I won’t be in
Tucson, unfortunately. And I know Karen very well. I do the website
for Metalwerx and will be going over there today, so I’ll make sure
to talk to her about it.