What is the shading technique in sandcarving?

When we talk about shading, we refer to a sandcarving technique that resembles airbrushing, except we do not use paint but our blaster to accomplish a similar effect. This requires a low pressure setting (about 1 to 5 pounds of pressure) and also a minimal abrasive flow. The objective is to create various areas within a design that are blasted to different shades of gray.

With an airbrush or a spray bottle, you control the amount of color delivered by the trigger or depressing the button more or less. In sandcarving, it is a bit trickier: you keep a much greater distance to the glass and move much faster with the nozzle.

There are two different styles of shading: one, uniform area shading, where any particular area is blasted to the same saturation all over; and two, variable area shading, where there is a gradation within any given shape.

-Ruth Dobbins, EtchMaster

Ruth Jan 2018

Ruth Dobbins

With over 40 years in the glass business, Ruth Dobbins offers experience in all glass-etching techniques as well as in fused and cast glass. Ruth holds a master’s degree in art and has been a partner in an art glass wholesale supply and studio company in Europe, which also placed great emphasis on a training program, before joining forces with her late husband Norm. You can reach Ruth by email at or by phone at 505-473-9203.

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