Prepare a Proper Workspace for Sandcarving

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

Tables for product preparation and cleanup and/or color application help make up a complete glass etching venue. One to two 8-foot tables are a good space, and if you are going to do a lot of color application, a spray booth may be a good investment (about $350). Access to water will facilitate the clean-up process since photoresist floats off any substrate once submerged for a short time. 

Your preparation area needs to be a clean space away from blasting activities. Your table needs to be covered with carpet if you are applying stencils to glass objects. This helps you prevent scratches on glass as the glass is cushioned by the carpet and any small debris items will fall into the nap of it. A couple of tape dispensers help in the preparation of items to be blasted as well as a roll of cling wrap. The most common items used are paper towels or wipes and a glass cleaner without ammonium. Large trash cans help keep your work area clean.

I mentioned two tables: use one as a clean table for preparation and another, in a separate spot, for cleanup, which may mean some abrasive can be present. 

—Ruth Dobbins, Professional Glass Consultants

Read more about what you need to start etching glass awards and gifts in the April ’18 issue of A&E