February 10, 2013

Hey everyone!  On Sunday we had an exciting meeting at the Ruffin Hall Woodshop in preparation for making our slate sign for the garden!  Chelsea got in touch with Melissa, our fabrication facilities manager at the A-school, and she told us about two options for our sign.  One is using the laser cutter which will precisely cut our letters and TJ’s quote into the slate sign.  The other way is using the SANDBLASTER, which is a machine that uses high pressure air to blast sand at a surface in order to smooth it, remove rust, or etch.    None of us had used one before, so naturally Chelsea, Marissa, Emily and I were extremely excited to get in the shop and learn how to use some new tools!  I personally have never even seen a sandblaster before, so I was pretty intrigued as to how they work.   Our advisor in the shop taught us how to use the sandblaster by first showing us how to remove rust from a rusty tool.  Surprisingly, using the sandblaster was relatively simple!

Our sample of slate -- ready to experiment with the sandblaster!

Our sample of slate — ready to experiment with the sandblaster!

View inside the sandblaster!

View inside the sandblaster!

First you have to connect the sandblaster to an air pressure hose, and then place the object (slate sample) in the sandblaster box.  Then you turn it on, put your hands through these gloves inside the box and hold your object while you hold the air pressure gun that you power with a foot pedal depending on how much air pressure you want.  Each of us got to have a turn sandblasting part of the sample, and then Chelsea had a pleasant surprise for us!

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Our mason jar souvenirs – ready to be sandblasted!

She used the laser cutter to create labels of our favorite plant in the garden along with the words “TJ Demo Garden”  and pasted them on mason jars for us all to sandblast!  It was alot of fun to practice using the sandblaster and to come away with a really cool souvenir of the garden!  I will definitely be using the sandblaster to create more crafts in the future.  It’s such a simple machine and it really created a beautiful finished product!

My sandblasted mason jar! (Flax plant on bottom)

My sandblasted mason jar! (Flax plant depicted on bottom)

Overall it was a fun, successful day in the shop learning new skills!  We got to compare the laser cut text on slate with the sandblasted text on slate.  We noticed that when the slate was wet, the sandblasted text was harder to read than the last cut text, so we are thinking of laser cutting the main text on the sign, and possibly sandblasting an image of a plant for the bottom with the quote by TJ.  Whatever we do, I’m sure it will be a beautiful addition to our garden!

Looking at our sandblasted product and comparing the laser cut/sandblasted text

Looking at our sandblasted product and comparing the laser cut/sandblasted text

Next Sunday, February 24, we are having a garden workshop starting at 2:00!  We will be discussing what plants we should put in the experimental garden plot and the overall new design of the garden.  A couple days ago, Marissa, Emily and I met in Clarke Library to do some research on possible plants native to Virginia that we could include.  We came up with several really interesting possibilities so now we just have to discuss them as a group and decide on a couple we think would be best!   Overall it’s been a pretty productive week and I think all of us are very excited about what’s happening in the garden!
~Kari

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