Sandcarving Smaller Signage for Profit

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

There are several products you can make that are in the smaller item category. Nameplates are one such item, along with room number signs or room name signs as you would find in hotels, professional buildings, galleries, and museums. I am sure you can think of a few more applications for smaller signs. Most of these small signs look best if blasted from the back of the glass (if glass is your substrate) and blasted to a nice depth, which gives the text a three-dimensional look.

Nameplates usually don’t require any special treatment so that they can be read easily, but room signs, if made from glass, often need a dark background as well as some means of attaching them to the wall. In many scenarios, we end up having a piece of metal fabricated that is slightly larger than the glass itself. Using metal as a backdrop can be finished in many different ways, from a flat solid color application to a patina imitating a variety of looks.

—Ruth Dobbins, Professional Glass Consultants