How to Properly Sandcarve Acrylic

With over 35 years in the glass business, Ruth Dobbins offers experience in fused and cast glass, as well as in glass-etching techniques. Ruth holds a Master's Degree in Printmaking and Art History and has been a partner in a stained and fused glass wholesale supply company in Europe, which also placed great emphasis on a training program. For the past 20 years, she collaborated with her husband Norm Dobbins in commission work, writing books and creating videotapes on how-to techniques for glass etching. Ruth taught these techniques for 30 years in the U.S. and other countries. Ruth continues these venues by offering a complete training program at Aliento School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and by teaching at various trade shows, including The Awards & Engraving Show. One-on-one training and consulting services are also offered. You can reach Ruth by email at, by phone at 505-473-9203 and by fax at 505-473-9218. Check out the website at

If you sandcarve on acrylic, you find out quickly that you cannot blast any real depth into it because the friction of the prolonged blasting partially melts the acrylic, turning it an ugly brownish color. Therefore, with this material use only the standard thickness of photoresist, which is 3-3.5 mils. The pressure setting is similar to the one for glassware, around 20-25 pounds of pressure with a nozzle distance of 6-8 inches.

Surface frosting is the name of the game with acrylic. You also have to be more careful in handling this material as it actually scratches easier than glass does. 

—Ruth Dobbins, Your Professional Glass Consultant