Design/Etch By Richard Smith
Questions and Answers Version 5
September 16, 1997

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Please Note:

If you could check through my previous Q&A pages before you email me with a question it would save me some time! Many of the questions that I have gotten lately I have already answered in previous versions.

If you have an etching question, email me, and I will attempt to answer it here, if I can't, or have no experience in it, I will post it under questions below. My answers are based upon personal experiences. There are many variables to consider when sand etching, I do not guarantee results, and assume that you take appropriate safety precautions when working with glass and sand blasting or acid.
I prefer to use your name, and city, for your questions, but will not include your email address.
I appreciate hearing back from you whether my comments and suggestions are helpful or not; as I'm not getting any monetary return out of this, this is the only reward - right? :-)

Quick links for Version 5: Answers | Questions | Responses | Hint | Useful Links

Answers #5 from me:

From K. Espinoza, in Grandview, Washington:

"I want to learn to put peoples faces on glass. I am familiar with Raysist and Photoresist and have all the equipment to implement this process. I have all the necessary computer equipment also."

The photoresists can be used for this purpose, but the difficulty being that the highest resolution that you can use is around 35 DPI. The manufacturers of your specific resist would be a better place to find out the exact details from.

"I am looking for a glue for glass. I want to glue a 6x8 in. bevel oval onto a smaller square, oval upright so that the smaller square will be the stand. Do you have any help along that line?"

I could suggest the glue that is used for chipping glass "animal hide glue" or "glass chipping glue" and can be purchased from most stained glass retailers. Or, you might try a automotive windshield shop - they have glue which they use for gluing the rearview mirrors back onto new windshields.

From R. Rock in ________:

"I am now working in stone - smooth concrete sidewalks actually. And I am in search of recommendations for a quick and inexpensive (photo-sensitive?) masking process for medium deep etching (mostly text) into fairly generic concrete surfaces. I get good results from using computer/plotter-cut stencils from conventional vinyl letter sign makers but the cost is about $50 to $75 per 3 sq. feet and is too costly for a mere temporary masking.
I have looked into a product from a company called "Rayzist" but I am wondering if you can steer me elsewhere."

Ah, what we all would like! There is another manufacturer of photo-sensitive resists PhotoBrasive Systems, (See Q&A#2) but again, they are not inexpensive - the material running at about .10¢ a sq. inch. I am assuming that you can't use self adhesive vinyl and hand cut the resists? Down in the links section of this version, there is another article by Bob Pickard called: Temporary Resist Stencils. He has some interesting ideas for use as stencils. As he says, many different materials can be used for resists, but care has to be taken as to the pressure and aggregate used (also dependent upon the blasting system that you have.

From L. Lake, in San Antonio, Texas:

"I would like to find out if you have a book to look at, and if you sell the etchings to do myself. I would appreciate any information you could possibly give me."

I don't have a book (yet?!) although I have often thought about writing one. When I was starting with etching, I also looked for books and information on the subject, but I could find very little written on it. Most books are written about glass engraving, and one chapter (if you're lucky) touches on etching.
If you are looking for pre-cut stencils (resists) there are links to a couple of places that sell them back in Q&A #1. I don't resell precut stencils - all my resists are custom cut.

From "lagimp@":

"I have a very old, large mirror, which now has quite a few lines through it. I have been looking for some way to resilver it at my home as it is so large and heavy. Do you know of some solution, on the market, that is available for the purpose of resilvering?"

I have been asked a number of times about re-silvering mirrors, so I tried some web surfing to find out the answers - see below in the useful links section.

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Questions #5 for you:

If you have information, or can answer a question for these etchers, email me, and I will post it in Responses next version.

From K. Allen, Boca Raton, Florida

"Looking for a source for mercury mirror. can you help? I am a wholesale framer in need of a distributor."


"I am looking for a library of prescanned patterns that i can import into signlab. Clip art is a real hassle. I'm looking for specific patterns geared towards sidelites, doors, windows, etc. so i don't have to do allot of work and so i have a catalog of designs to show to a customer so they can choose without having to use their imagination."

Yes, it is difficult to try and describe to customers how some piece will look, when you can see it in your mind's eye, and they don't have a clue!

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Responses #5:

From C. Lott:

"I was very pleased with the outcome of using rope light to illuminate my carving. One caveat is that I've heard rope light tends to turn brown when enclosed. So I'll have to wait and see."

Great! I haven't found that there is enough light given off from the light rope for most applications that I have tried.

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Hint #5:

This version's hint from Steve Carter -

"One thing to mention when sand blasting a mirror on the back side. I find you must reseal the silvering or it (the design) will bleed through over time! I use a clear coat to reseal the silvering and have had no problems since resealing!"

If you have a hint that you would like to pass on to others, you know what to do.... click here.

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Useful Links #5:

If you know of a link to a website or suppliers dealing with some aspect of glass etching, email me, and I will post it here next update.

There is an article about a booklet untitled: Mirror Resilvering, A How-to Guide for the Antique Restoration Craftsman, by Douglas A. Low. For information on obtaining the booklet, email him at:

The Refinishing Store has a question and answer page the second question is: "...resilvering mirrors isn't done much anymore. Why is that and how would I go about learning how to do it?"

Back at the A&E site there is another very interesting article by Bob Pickard called: Temporary Resist Stencils.

And, from Steve Carter:

Monday nights 9:00 to 11:00 East Coast, American Online chat room just for glass etchers: "GLASS HOUSE"

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