Glass Etching
Art On Glass Framing & Preservation

For hundreds of years men have been fascinated by the beauty and elegance of glass which was used then and now in its different forms and applications. The search was on – trying to find more ways to decorate and manipulate glass, using both hot and cold processes.

In the late 17th Century the use of acid was discovered to etch the glass surfaces of window panes to decorate them. This gained high popularity, especially in the Victorian Era as etched table ware and kitchen ware became in demand.

What is Etching?
The term ETCHING originally refers to the reaction of hydrofluoric acid on glass or metal substrate as it abrades or erodes the surface. This approach of decorating the glass was slow to develop until the creation of sand blasters almost one hundred years ago. Today we can literally choose from several techniques available to cut, etch, carve and decorate the glass. Yet the term ETCHING, through common usage, when applied to decoration of glass surface, has come to mean the effect of any process that erodes the glass surface, to produce a frosted appearance. ETCHING, then, is a label that is technically inaccurate but nonetheless pervasive.

A Range of Techniques
There are various techniques for Glass Etching. Techniques commonly used are SURFACE ETCHING, CARVING and SHADING, or the combination of all of these for a richer and more dramatic finish.

SURFACE ETCHING is the type where elements of design are separated by clear outlines and blasting is done one time with the same depth throughout. This can be coloured or left as is, depending on the chosen design or usage.



CARVING, on the other hand, is a multi-stage technique where elements of design are made distinct from each other by the varying depths and extent of blasting done on any element that touches other elements. CARVING can be done the POSITIVE way which simply means carving the front side of the glass, or the NEGATIVE BAS-RELIEF which means carving is done on the rear side of glass, although it is viewed from the front. Positive carving can be coloured as well as the Negative bas-relief, yet the latter is also more outstanding without colour, but back-lit against a darker background.



SHADING, like the CARVING technique, is also very complex and intense as this is also done in multi-stage. This affects only the surface of the glass and is therefore applicable even to the most delicate crystal classes and tempered ones. Unlike SURFACE ETCHING and CARVING, SHADING cannot be coloured as the shallowness of etching cannot hold the glass paint in a clean manner although it can adhere to the surface well. Yet SHADING can produce the most delicate and elegant results as different degrees of shading resembles perfectly the airbrush strokes as elements of designs are made distinct from each other through different shades of grey.


Please visit our GALLERY to see applications of these different techniques.



AA Framing & Decoration. #4, 1st Avenue Belleville, St. Michael, BB 11114 BARBADOS
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