As I indicated in my page about the artist, I do not use laser or sand blasting to create my etched glass rather each piece of glass has its own stencil cut created and then cut from vinyl. I use a computer program to create designs that range from simple paw prints to renderings of real dogs taken from photographs sent to me by their owners or friends. With some designs, especially the portraits, I work in tandem with a wonderful young artist, Amanda Grant. Amanda can seemingly magically take the initial photo and create an image I am then able to input into my computer program. Once that image is in the program I can make the necessary adjustments so it will produce the look I want when cut on vinyl and applied to the glass.
Once I have a page full of designs, I connect the computer to the vinyl cutter and depending upon the intricacies of the designs it usually takes about 15-20 minutes for a 12”X24” page of designs to be cut. Once the vinyl is removed from the mat and the designs roughly cut away from each other, the tedious part begins. This next step is called “weeding” and it is where I remove the areas of the design that I am going to want to be frosted and keep the areas that I want to be clear. This includes the tiny lines that make the ears or separate the three colors—black, rust, and white—on the leg of a Berner. The smaller or more intricate the design, the longer the process takes. So, say the same puppy head design that is going to be used on a beer stein will take less time than that on a wine glass because of its size and difficulty in weeding.
Once the vinyl stencil is complete it is applied to the glass using clear contact paper and then the contact paper is removed. All the areas surrounding the design are then covered with either additional vinyl or with painter’s tape and any bubbles removed. This ensures the etching cream will stay only on the area of the vinyl stencil I want etched and not seep through making a mark on another part of the glass.
Finally, after the stencil is on, all the bubbles smoothed out, and the outlying areas taped off, I can apply my etching cream or do an etching dip. Approximately 90% of my work is done with etching cream because the dip requires a large amount of product, finding a container to fit the glass piece that isn’t too large or too small, and it takes 15 minutes to do one piece and I can only do one piece at a time and nothing more. The etching cream on the other hand is easy to work with, can be used over and over, I can work on etching a number of pieces at the same time and I have better control. It too takes 15 minutes to etch (but only a few seconds if I happen to mistakenly touch a part of the glass with cream on my fingers or on the work surface). After the 15 minutes, I remove the etching cream returning it to the container and rinse all the cream off under running water. Then I put it in a bath of hot water and dish detergent to remove the painter’s tape and the vinyl and voila another piece is done! From start to completion each piece, with the exception of the portraits takes at least an hour; so if I am selling a set of four wine glasses or four tumblers that set has approximately four hours of labor in it.