sandcarving smooth ceramic tile ruth dobbins professional glass consultant A&E magazine

The Trick to Sandcarving Smooth Ceramic Tiles

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

Smooth ceramic tiles are tricky to deal with when it comes to resist thickness since it is hard to anticipate the thickness of the glaze that you have to blast through. My recommendation is always to get a few extra tiles to try blasting them with the standard photoresist thickness. If that fails, you know you will have to switch to the heavier material. Blasting pressure is between 30-40 pounds of pressure, depending on how deep you want to go and how detailed the design is; the more detail, the less pressure you want to select. Ceramic tiles always give you a two-tone effect: the color of the glaze and the color of the ceramic exposed through the blasting. Color-filling is not necessary, but optional. 

—Ruth Dobbins, Your Professional Glass Consultant