A couple of years ago, we did some glass work for Tommy O’s in downtown Vancouver WA. – one piece was their logo deep carved and edge-lit near the front door, the other, a simple sandblasted divider panel with banana leaves and bamboo. We got a call from them several months ago about a new location they were in the process of remodeling and were thinking about having us do some etching for it. This time though, the question was, could the work be done “on site”?
Good Question – one that requires careful consideration to be sure. The situation was that they had a dining area enclosed in existing glass that needed some artwork so as to give the clientele less of an “on display” atmosphere without completely obscuring them. On site sandblasting is not always an option – it’s noisy, messy, and can be hazardous or even dangerous to the public, so when I went to go check out the job site I had to be prepared to disappoint our client.
Much to my relief, when I looked at it, I saw that not only was it do-able, it was ideal! It was basically going to be just like working in a very large sandblast booth. After masking off the interior with heavy plastic I made a make-shift air system using a work table, and some blankets that spanned the short distance to the back patio. Creating negative air pressure by pulling air out with a large fan at the end of the “tunnel” kept dust from roaming out into the rest of the interior.
One of the greatest benefits of working on site is that you are seeing the etched glass in its real world context, with the actual available light, the changes of the light throughout the day, and how that light affects the background. This was very different than the controlled and static environment of the sandblasting booth. It allowed for customizing the approach, strengthening when necessary, as well as seeing more easily which areas could or should remain subtle.
There were also some interesting lessons learned, for example how gravity can become the enemy of the arm and shoulder when the work is in the vertical – that, and the shear size of the job added up to quite a work-out. It was an excellent experience, one I wouldn’t hesitate to do again.
The new Tommy O’s is located in Camas, Washington, at SE 34th and SE 192nd.