This week I have been experimenting with glass etching. This is a technique that is widely used with lampwork beads, but one that I have only really touched on slightly in my own work. I don’t have a good reason for this. I love the way etched beads look and the way etching a bead can so subtly or even drastically alter the way it looks.
There are a few ways to etch glass. I think the two most popular are chemically etching with an acid, and mechanically etching, for example in a rock tumbler or with a sand blaster. I have tumbled beads in the past but I personally prefer the acid etch method. I use Etchall Dip n Etch myself – a liquid acid product that is convenient to use because you can dip the beads right into it. I use a few safety precautions with it – I wear gloves, and when I remove the beads from the etching solution, after rinsing the beads well, I soak them in a plastic bowl of water and swirl some baking soda in to neutralize any remaining acid. Then I rinse them again very thoroughly and dry them out. Make sure you have proper ventilation as well, and access to a timer. I found some instructions on the acid etching method here that pretty much describes my method perfectly.
I will also add my usual reminder to look for “SRA” on Etsy/eBay/etc. This means the artist is a “Self Representing Artist” – they create their beads one by one, by hand. (Note that not EVERY self representing artist uses the “SRA” designation but the number is growing! For more information, visit the SRA website. The artists featured here are all Self Representing Artists (whether they are members of the official SRA or not). Please support these wonderful lampwork glass beadmakers! And now, on to the artists.
“Etched Transparent Beach Spacers” by Suzanne Fragiacomo of Fragiacomo Glass Art
“Simply Da Blues” by Debbie Altman of All My Beads. Black base, dots of cobalt blue, silvered ivory stringer added then swirled. Etched after cleaning.
“Siren’s Call” by Amy Hall of Two Glassy Ladies.