At Nashville’s Class Glass, the art of sandblasting and etching takes on hew heights

By Olivia McClure

Karen Martin knew how to turn her design dream into a reality — and with her company, Class Glass, she helps other people do the same.
Hailing from the Northeast, Martin lived out West for ten years, where she worked in America’s national parks system. After that, she lived in Europe for a couple of years, before finally settling in Music City.

After visiting her uncle’s sign shop in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin decided to pursue a career in the engraving industry. Acknowledging the popularity of college sports in the South, she started to create licensed products for the Southeastern Conference, carving logos onto glass to be used as wall art.

“I would go to the different universities and sell them to the college bookstores on campus, and then to the actual college bookstore itself,” Martin says. “I’d work in the shop, create some work and then I’d peddle my wares.”

Eventually, Martin began to try her hand at different forms of engraving, which led to the formation of Class Glass. Her business offers sandblasting and engraving on a variety of materials, including glass, stone, granite and marble.

According to Martin, a large part of her job is working with clients to realize their dreams for a space.

“I was going to say, in Nashville, it’s kind of fun, too, because you’re going to have people that have stumbled upon sandblasting or etching, and they absolutely love it and think it’s a beautiful form,” Martin says. “But they are clueless as to what they like. So, when they come, we usually try and harness for them some ideas.”

While Class Glass does a considerable amount of commercial work, the business also caters to residential properties.

“We do a ton of interior doors,” Martin says. “So, we do a ton of pantry doors, a ton of wine cellar doors, a ton of laundry room doors, a bunch of game room doors or studies, that kind of thing.”

Martin admits that many people are intimidated by her trade. Yet, she says her work is not as complicated as it appears, since her team is there to guide customers through the process.

“If you know that you like the art form and you appreciate the subtleties or the nuances of it, and you know that you want that somewhere in your home, then the rest is pretty easy,” Martin says. “So, all we have to do is harness your vision for you and help you identify your vision. And that’s the part we’re good at. I mean, that’s the part we cultivated for 20 years.”

Class Glass
208 Fesslers Lane, 615-254-7744