The General Idea...
The general idea behind the mask (or resist) is pretty simple -
if it isn't covered it's going to get blasted and carved. But the
types of resist and how they are applied are varied and are limited
only by your creativity and imagination. This, for me anyway, is the
challenge and fun! This is what really adds that something special
to your art.
A mask (resist) is applied to the glass surface and selected
areas are cut out and removed. The areas not covered by the mask are
blasted, leaving them "frosted", carved or etched.
I use the terms mask and masking and resist interchangeably.
There are many types of resist materials available - and some
that you can create for yourself. I will cover a few of the types
that I have used and few that might seem a little surprising to
Contact Brand Shelf Paper
The most common for simple glass work is plain old Contact brand
self-adhesive shelf paper! It will take 2 layers for most work -
more if you're really going to be doing a lot of staging (covered
next) or deep cutting. I strongly recommend the plain white - as you
might be drawing on it and the patterned or clear doesn't lend
itself to well to seeing your design.
When I first began working with stone, I visited my local
cemetery headstone maker and purchased a 1/16 inch rubber matting
type resist called Buttercut.. It is a tough rubber-like
matting with adhesive on one side. It adheres well to smooth flat
stone and holds up extremely well when blasting with crushed garnet
or silicone carbide.
Buttercut is available through some stained glass shops or glass
supply shops. It cuts like running a knife through butter - thus the
name. It applies very easily on slightly textured surfaces and holds
up well to the abrasives. This works well for stone or cutting very
deeply (3/16 inch or more ) in to glass. Generally, you won't
require this for simple glass engraving/carving work.
It is a photo sensitive material that comes in thickness from
about 3 mil to 10 mil. It works like developing a photo graph in
that you expose the material to ultraviolet light with a mask of the
design you want placed face down on top of the photo resist
material. Once exposed, you wash out the material with a high
pressure nozzle which attached to your sink. The mask requires about
an hour drying time (hey, you can mircowave it or get out the
hairdryer which works well too) and then you apply it to your glass
with special masking adhesive.
Photo resist work wonderfully
well. The drawback here is the expense. It's not for the mildly
curious but won't put you in debt either. For under $350 you can get
all set up with a nice beginning supply of photo resist materials
from Rayzist (see Suppliers section).
I use this product
for putting names on champagne glasses, doing very intricate designs
and reproducing pen and ink drawings on glass. It is an amazing
product and with a little practice you can achieve outstanding
results - even on rocks!. Highly recommended by the glass guy.
For the more unusual and create approach - try a few things on
your own. One I found that works quite well is using Scribbles, a
fabric paint. I have used it on glass and stone with super results.
It takes about 24 hours to dry, but you can paint in on using the
very small tip of the paint bottle, or you can spread it over a
surface and cut it with an exact-o blade to create other designs. I
found that this is easy for my grade school kids to use in making
their own designs as it does not require using a sharp
This design was done with Scribbles. The left side is with
the Scribbles on the surface. I drew the design on the back and
traced with Scribbles on the top. The right side is the piece after
blasting. It leaves a great natural look.