Bob Nunes' experience custom-painting hot-rod cars at an auto shop in the 1960s prepared him for a career carving glass into works of art. The Paso Robles resident now creates one-of-a kind designs of glass pieces, wine bottles and mirrors by chipping away the glass with a sandblaster.
"The knowledge I gained from the body shop enabled me to work with (the big pieces) of equipment," he said.
Depending on the setting he uses with the sandblaster, he can cut fine shapes or deeper engravings. The detailed designs can be especially difficult because the etchings are done from the back of a piece.
Unlike paint on a canvas, glass is an unforgiving medium -- the sandblaster allows no room for mistakes since the smallest cut in the glass is obvious to the eye.
"Even if I've put 100 hours into a piece," he said. "You can't fix a mistake on glass like you could with a painting."
What you see: Nunes encourages clients to run their hands over the glass pieces so they fully understand the detail of his work. The use of light through the glass makes the intricacy of his work easier to see.
A large air compressor and sandblaster take up a good deal of space in his small studio. The loud sandblaster can create quite a mess with the sand blowing, he says. Nunes, however, doesn't mind the noise and mess because he's passionate about his work.
"I treat the sandblaster like it's my paintbrush," he said.
What he sees: The cost of his artwork begins at $300 and varies by the client's desires.
"It depends on how intricate the work is," he said. "If I make a mistake on a $5,000 piece of glass, I have no choice but to start over."
His work includes carvings of women, birds, flowers and flames. He enjoys painting or designing images of people the most.
"I think all of the great artists painted people," he said.
What he likes: There are few artists in the world who carve and design art into glass, Nunes said. He likes being part of that select group of artisans.
"I love the challenge of my work," he says. "It takes great attention to detail."
What he would change: Nunes wouldn't change a thing.