Design/Etch By Richard Smith
Questions and Answers Version 7
April 4th, 1998

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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.

Quick links for Version 7: Answers | Hint | Useful Links

Answers #7 from me:

From W. Bowen @ aol:

"I am looking for a place to purchase etched glass tools, please send any info you might have as to where I can find tools. I am new to this and need all the help I can get. Thank you."

Can you give me an idea of the tools that you are looking for? Are you looking for sand etching, acid, or drill/diamond point? Many of my previous versions of this Question and Answer page have suggestions and links for starting etchers.

From D. Bethune, in Ottawa, Ontario:

"I was hoping you could set me in the right direction for learning how to do the etching for different depths. In reading your page, I see that you use "glass ink", I have looked all over for something to paint the etching with and the only thing I have found is "Permenamel" which is basically used for painting ceramics (tiles, hot plates, etc.). Where would I find this kinda paint you use. and could it be called something else? One more question, where is it you find all these nice designs to do? "

One problem about glass etching is that there can be so many different variables. For instance, what are you using as a resist for your deep etching? What abrasive/air pressure/type of blasting gun are you using (pot or pressure).

Glass inks - the colouring that I use is just that, commercial glass inks which are transparent. I am afraid that I won't recommend the specific brand, as when I got them the warnings on the cans are enough to curl your hair (see Q&A # 6). If you are interested in using the same type of product, contact a local screen print/ink supplier and check out what they might have.

Where do I find the designs - that is a tough one that I guess I could best answer with here, there and everywhere. Very often I'll see something in a book (not any specific book, it can be anything) and then work from that and adapt it to my purpose. A good imagination helps!

Let me know the answers to paragraph one above, and I'll try to help you out.

From L. Bates, London, Ontario:

"I was looking for crushed glass to be used for ceramic applications and came onto your web page. My supplier no longer carries this product and I am looking for another supplier. Do you have such products available?"

I'm sorry, but I don't sell products like that. I could suggest that you check with a local company that would sell sand blasting supplies, and ask for glass beads (I presume this is the same product as you are looking for - glass beads are simply crushed glass that is used for "sand" blasting glass and machine parts.)

Hope this helps some.

From S. St. Croix-Deering, in Ontario:

"I came across your page and was pleased to see someone else do what I do. The only difference is I call myself a glass carver. I usually specialize in 3D carvings or multi-layered sand blasting. I am self taught and have met only 3 others in Ontario that do what I do. I am happy to see there are others. Did someone teach you how to do sandblasting? I am interested in how you do your pricing as well. I have been told by some very nice people that my prices are too low...while others gasp and say they are too high! I can't seem to win, heheh. I have been doing this for 8 years now and it can still be a struggle to get people to understand and appreciate the work."

I think that most of us etchers/carvers are self-taught, personally I think it's better that way, as you don't have a whole class (or classes) doing what someone else has done. But, maybe I'm prejudiced seeing as I was home schooled, I feel that most people can learn much if they want to!!

I agree thoroughly about your problems with pricing, some people say that my prices are fair, and others say "who would pay that"!!! I guess that it just depends on the person. I too find it very difficult to arrive at a price, I usually try to figure out how long a project will take me, than charge for materials and an hourly rate. Or, sometimes I'll work on a square foot basis - just last week I gave a square foot price to a glass company here, and the fellow I was talking to said that he would add some extra on top just to make sure!

It boggles my mind sometimes what some companies charge for things, and they get enough work to keep going, for instance, the largest sand blasting shop here only charges $60 an hour if I would like the privilege of having them do my work. Another shop charges $50 an hour if I want to use their blasting booth - even if I'm only to take 1/2 hour. THEN, I came across a glass etching website in California last evening on the web, they only charge $75 US an hour. At these rates my prices would be about 4-5 times what they are, who would get them to do anything??

ENOUGH of complaining! I find the biggest problem getting enough time to do all the things I want to try out - (Oops, I'm still complaining!).

From R. Fisher, in Independence, MO:

"I am currently using 100 grit aluminum oxide, I find the result to be a little too soft, so I am considering changing to 80 grit, but I have also heard that glass beads are better. So confused, please help"

What are you using for a resist, and a blasting gun?

If you are using self-adhesive vinyl, your choices for aggregate are many - if you want a "heavier" appearance etch, try using "o" or "oo" (pronounced ought, or double ought) silica sand. This will give you quite a coarse etch. The silica will not stay as sharp as, and will pulverize faster than aluminium oxide, but it is MUCH cheaper. The finer the aggregate, the finer the finished etch will be.

If you are using a photo resist, you have fewer options. Depending on the thickness of the resist, and the detail involved in your etch it will determine the size and type of aggregate used. 80 grit should work OK as long as there is no real fine detail. I am using 220 AlumOxide for some photo resists, and find the etch could be mistaken for an acid etch - it is very fine.

Glass beads will give the same kind of etch as fine AlumOxide - they are after all the same material as you are trying to etch.

From S. Clelland in Toronto, Ontario:

"I found your site to be most interesting. You do very nice work. I do have a question that is related specifically to glass etch. chemical. I am looking for etch cream in a user-friendly (1/8 ounce approx.) to etch vehicle glass. Do you know of anyone in Canada who may be able to supply same?"

I believe that The Glass Place Mail Order in Montreal (1-800-363-7855) sells the 8oz bottle. Also Lee Valley tools in Ottawa sold it a few years ago (both would sell the product "Armor Etch"). I have also found it locally in craft stores, so I would imagine that you could probably get it around Toronto.

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Hint #7:

NEVER keep two versions of the same project, or measurements lying around on your desk when you are laying out the resist. I found out the hard way just recently, and had to move eight intricately cut resists over by an inch. (I was working from my original drawings, as they were actual size, but the approved design - drawn to scale - wasn't quite the same position as the original drawing - stupid mistake!)

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

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Useful Links #7:

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.

I haven't had the time this month to do much surfing...

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