Intro: Expensive Looking Sandblasted Glassware on the CHEAP!
Spend a bit of $$ up front (about $400, but you can go much cheaper ($160 ish) if you can borrow a vinyl cutter), make a LOT on the back (the Wife and I went to the U.K. for 3 weeks on the money I made on this PART TIME over a two year period).
I buy ALL my glassware at the Dollar Tree. You can literally get every type of glass you need. Heck, if you are a really cheap bastard, get your glassware at yard sales and Goodwill stores for even less!
In these included pictures are 3 of my most difficult patterns I have done. The were NOT my own design (thank you Google Image search!), but the laying of the pattern is time consuming.
Step 1: Material List: Must Have Item #1...air Compressor.
Harbor Freight Oil-less air compressor ($50 ish) GET THE WARRANTIES! They will die (on my 4th one in 3 years), but the warranty will replace them. 1/6th HP that gives about 58 psi.
This baby is QUIET! So quiet, I can do this in the house. It spools up the pressure needed almost immediately,
Step 2: Material List: Must Have Item #2...air Eraser.
There are a bunch of these on the market, and some are much better than others. But for convenience for me, I get this from Harbor Freight. Why? Because I get the warranty on this (IT WILL BREAK DOWN) and I can go the store and replace it for free within a year.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE about this air eraser and compressor. It is not "strong", meaning it will not significantly hurt your bare hands. It will etch glass just fine, so save some money on gloves since this will not really hurt you. Besides, handling glassware with gloves on is harder than it has to be in my opinion.
Step 3: Not a Must Have, But Saves a LOT of Money on "sand" - Clear Storage Container.
You don't have to have this, but for $5, you will save and contain your expensive "sand" (Aluminum oxide).
All I did was cut a pair of armholes in the side, and used some old sweatpants legs (the kind with elastic on the ankle) and hot glue them over the holes.
You may need a small hole also on the side for the air compressor hose. Or be lazy like I did here and just run the hose through the arm hole.
I used to just sandblast out in the back yard, but then you blow all your sand away. I went through 20 lbs of sand in a year and thought that was a total waste of product. With this, I am using the same 5 lbs of sand for the last year, and pretty much for the rest of time.
This is NOT a completely sealed system. SAND WILL LEAK OUT. That stuff is very fine. But, if you want to spend the time sealing the lid with something, go right ahead.
Step 4: Back Lighting
looking at your glassware through the plastic container is hard, so put a 100w bulb behind the container so you can see your work more easily.
Again, this is cheap! A yard sale clip lamp ($2) does the job!
Step 5: Your Most Expensive Piece of Equipment: Vinyl Cutter
$200 - $500 for this. Yes, that is pricey, but for what the Silhouette Cameo can do, it is a downright STEAL!
Just watch any DIY video on vinyl cutting with this machine and you will see the value right away.
However, if you have a MakerSpace with a cutter, or a friend with one of these, then you can save a ton of money.
Step 6: The Vinyl
Again, Dollar Tree for a short roll of what I call "pattern vinyl". This is the stuff I use specifically to cut my patterns to lay on the glassware. It usually comes in ugly patterns and colors, and is called Shelf Paper or Shelf Liner. Color and patterns do not matter, since all I am concerned about is the shapes I cut out of it.
In this picture, you will see a roll on top called CLEAR TRANSPARENT. I use this as Transfer paper (lifting the pattern from the cut piece to the glass). $1.00!!!! I foolishly bought a huge roll of actual transfer material from a vinyl store for way too much when I first started.
The cool thing about the Silhouette is that I have a whole other side business just cutting cheap vinyl window stickers for my Nerd Herd friends! In the second pic, that was a wood grain pattern I used to cut the AT-AT window sticker for a friends RV.
Step 7: Final Steps: Cutting Vinyl and Blasting
The following three steps took me 10 minutes.
#1. Using your vinyl cutter, cut a pattern. (This could literally take you hours due to how fast your creative juices flow!). Time from finding pattern to cutting and weeding (removing the part I will blast), 3 minutes.
#2. Place pattern on glassware. Again, depending on complexity of pattern, it could take 1 minute to 45 (I did a sugar skull storm trooper pattern once that took that long).
#3. Sandblast the pattern into the glass. Remove vinyl and wash.
Final Final step: Sell it!
I have made thousands of dollars in a few years doing this. I sell them on FB (Marketplace or via Trade/Yard Sale groups) and Craigslist. I join craft fairs and sell at booths. I make custom mugs for Mug Clubs at my local breweries.
Now get out there and make some EA$Y MONEY!!!!