How to Etch Glass by Sandblasting

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Sandblasting glass creates beautiful frosted and carved designs in glass. Items as small as a pendant and as large as front doors can be sandblasted. The technique takes practice and the right tools, plus a delicate touch if you're etching glass.

  • Clean and dry the glass with your favorite glass cleaner. Apply a mask, which covers all the areas of the glass that won't be etched. Many artists recommend using white contact paper. Apply the first layer, then carefully rub it in so it adheres completely to the glass. Then apply a second layer of contact paper.

  • Place your design on the contact paper. The design can be a drawing or a stencil. If using a stencil or a drawing from a computer, apply spray glue to hold it down onto the contact paper. Make sure the design won't move when sandblasting.

  • Use an Exact-o knife to cut out the design. Make sure you have a very sharp blade so your cut is clean and doesn't pull on the contact paper. Remove the pieces you've cut out. Rub or burnish the edges of the contact paper. Rub the edges thoroughly where the cut was made, so sand doesn't creep under the contact paper. "Fogging" occurs when sand seeps under the paper and etches areas you don't want touched.

  • Begin sandblasting. The sandblasting machine consists of a compressor, tank, nozzle and gun. Sand or abrasive material is applied under pressure to the glass. If there is a protected area to work in, you'll avoid spreading sand all over the area. Many artists use a blasting box.

  • Practice safety when sandblasting glass. Wear a respirator and safety goggles. Minute shards of glass are being removed, so your protect skin by wearing a long sleeve sweatshirt and gloves.

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