natural stone sandstone sandcarving uneven stones

Sandcarving Rough and Uneven Stones

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

Rough, uneven stones are our biggest challenge. We blast natural sandstones for a funeral home on a regular basis. These stones have to first be washed thoroughly, since the irregular surfaces hold a lot of dirt and dust, which in turn prevent stencils from sticking to them. After washing, the stone has to dry for quite a while to avoid “sweating” after the stencil application, which can result in lift-off during blasting.

Since all photoresist has a stiff cover sheet on one side, it is not the best choice for this substrate. To blast these stones, we use a soft vinyl material that comes in a roll that we pre-cut with our plotters. Before plotters, we hand-cut the stencils from this material. The 11 mil-thick resist is soft and flexible, which allows it to adhere to uneven surfaces without a problem. The adhesive is also strong enough to stick to these porous surfaces for prolonged blasting to achieve depth. For these stones, I usually blast at 40-50 pounds of pressure while holding my nozzle about 10-12 inches away.

—Ruth Dobbins, Professional Glass Consultant