How We Engrave Crystal

Sandblasting Glass Professionally

The Gravesham Trophy Centre uses professional equipment, an accomplished Graphic Artist and full-time Engraver, all in-house, to provide the highest possible quality engraved glass and crystal.

They employ an accomplished Graphic Designer because they (and you) know that one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear...!

It is vital to start with artwork that has the following attributes:
•    Black & White (no greys and no colours)
•    Every line must be crisp (no jagged edges)
•  You must be able to utilise the design (no copyrighted work by others).


A completed sandblast engraved glass trophy.

Rock Tablets can be purchased from our Shop.

Graphic Artist

Using a combination of scanning, hand drawing and computer skills, our Graphic Artist provides drawings to the above specifications, from anything you care to provide.  Cap badges, photocopies, internet links, you name it.

Only once he has satisfactory quality artwork, does he set to work combining your artwork with other jobs, onto an A4 format on the computer.  This is then printed out onto special, high quality, translucent vellum paper.

Making Glass Sandblasting Stencils

They utilise a light-sensitive film to make the stencils (called 'masks', because they mask-out areas of glass not requiring to be sandblasted).

The printed vellum is placed over the light-sensitive film and exposed to light, using an ultraviolet light tube.  This ensures a fast exposure, which for technical reasons, ensures the crisp lines stay crisp.  See Fig 1 (below).

The film requires washing out and drying, to rid it of the parts previously protected by the black ink on the vellum paper (the design and text to be engraved), before it can be used for sandblasting.

The A4 sheet contains several glass sandblasting stencils ('masks') and is cut up into individual stencils.  If there are 100 glasses to engrave, 100 stencils are manufactured.  They are not re-useable.  See Fig 2 (below).

Applying Glass Sandblasting Stencils

To apply the stencil and ensure it is correctly lined up, a variety of tools are used.  First, they ensure they are working to a line parallel to the desk surface, by engaging a home made guage to draw a line on the glass.  See Fig 3 (below).

A Burnisher is used to firm down the stencil on the glass.  After a carrier film is removed, a Wire Brush is rolled over the top of the mask, to burst any bubbles between the stencil and glass.  See Fig 4 (below).

Fig 1   Fig 2   Fig 3   Fig 4
Letralite Exposure Unit, showing developed film for glass engraving stencil.   Cutting up a sheet of glass engraving stencils, to make individual 'masks'.   Making a line on the glass to ensure the glass sandblasting stencil is parallel.   Tools used in the application of glass sandblasting masks.

 Letralite Exposure Unit and sandblasting masks.


 Individual 'masks' being cut out of the A4 sheet.


 Essential that a stencil is parallel to the desk surface.


 Tools to burnish a stencil down and remove bubbles.

Sandblast Glass Engraver

Having applied the stencil, ensuring it is lined up with the mark on the glass, burnished it down, removed the carrier film and pricked all the holes, they then need to protect the exposed glass with sandblast-resistant tape.  See Figs 5 & 6 (below).

The glass is then placed inside a Glass Scriber sandblasting cabinet.  A very narrow jet of fine aluminium oxide is blasted against the stencil.  Line by line, letter by letter, the Engraver studiously passes over the entire area containing design and words.  She hovers long enough to ensure the engraving is deep enough to dig a fingernail into, before passing on to the next detail.  See Fig 7 (below).

When the engraver has inspected the finished work, the stencil and tape is torn from the glass, washed in warm, soapy water and polished.  See Fig 8 (below).

Fig 5   Fig 6   Fig 7
  Fig 8
Protecting the glass not covered by the glass sandblasting stencil with tape.   The entire area of the glass must be covered either by stencil or tape, to protect it from sandblasting.   : Glass being sandblasted by fine media, inside a professional sandblasting cabinet.   After sandblasting, the stencil and tape is torn from the glass before washing.

Sandblast resistant tape being applied.


Glass is covered and ready for sandblasting.


A directional jet of fine media is used to deep engrave the glass.


Tape and stencil torn from the glass before washing.

Sandblast Glass Engraver

The Gravesham Trophy Centre are proud of their equipment, raw materials, range of glass & crystal and proud of the finished results they produce.

One only produces good work with good tools and the right attitude.  Believing in 'value for money', they are far from being the most expensive.  Neither are they the cheapest.

Laser engraving and machine engraving on glass are produced much less expensively - and look it.  Scratchy lines, ill-defined designs and with little or no depth to the engraving.  Below the standards set by the management at Gravesham.

Hand engraving is an art form and cannot be compared with sandblasting.  Exquisite work, when in the hands of a professional.


The finished sandblast engraved glass award.

A perfectly engraved glass award, deep engraved with crisp lines.

Further Information In This Category:

•    History of Glassmaking


- All about the History of Glass and where it all started.

•     Glass & Crystal Raw Materials


- What Glass is made from.

•    Method of Manufacture


- The difference in quality resulting in the Methods of Manufacture.

•    Cutting Crystal


- What is "Cut Crystal" and how is it achieved.

•    Decorating Glass or Crystal


- The different ways glass & crystal can be personalised.

•    Hand Engraved Glass & Crystal


- Information about hand engraved glass & crystal.

•    Variety & Choice


- The things to look for in Glass & Crystal.

•    Aftercare of Glass and Crystal


- How to look after your glass & crystal, plus cleaning tips.