Sandcarving Safety: Masks

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 are using a laser to cut your masks, you have to be careful about the contents of polyvinyl chloride in any masking material, which can fog up your laser’s mirrors and is not a good thing, not to mention it is not healthy to breathe such fumes

But even if you do not use a laser, the reason not to use sign vinyl is a big one: those materials are made with strong adhesives which are meant to keep the material glued to a substrate and not release easily. When trying to remove such vinyls after blasting, they often leave much of their adhesive on the glass, which then must be removed with a solvent of some kind. It is not only not desirable to be exposed to solvents, but also costs extra time and labor, affecting your bottom line.

—Ruth Dobbins, Professional Glass Consultants