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Acid Glass Etching - The Unique Art Form

Jun 12, 2008
Acid glass etching is a unique yet endangered art form. Acid Glass etching has some of the same effects as sand blasting but they are two different art forms. Acid glass etching also has a variety of watered down techniques that are still applied today as the traditional from of acid glass etching is rather dangerous and attempted by few artists.

This form of art evolved many centuries back especially during the Victorian times. The artistic work may be seen in the mirrors and the windows in the pub during the ages of Victoria. Acid glass etching was mainly used to decorate and add colors to the mirrors. A wax stencil was used in the process of acid glass etching and they were kept in the places of mirror that should not be exposed to the acid. Though hydrofluoric acids are harmful to human, artists continued using them as they proved to be the best of all acids. Fumes released on dipping the mirror into the acid are really dangerous. Also when the acid falls on the part of the artists body, the skin and the tissue may get dissolved. It may also result in the loss of fingers and hands due to this acid.

However, more modern times, call for more modern acid glass etching. Even if Hydrofluoric Acid was not dangerous to one's health, it is very expensive. Therefore, artists have come up with alternative chemical creams and solutions that they use on glass and mirrors to create their unique masterpieces. By using these chemical creams and solutions, even a beginner artist can use them as they are not that harmful to the artist.

Many compare acid glass etching to sand blasting or sand abrasive etching due to similarities in the finished production. However, sand blasting allows the artist to carve into the glass or mirror while acid glass etching does not. Also, sand blasting is much more time consuming and has a larger array of equipment that is required in order to perform it, making acid glass etching more desirable. However, since many artists who work in this genre of art do not use hydrofluoric acid and prefer other types of chemical glass etching, their work is subject to more hardship and flaws. The chemical is not as strong as the hydrofluoric acid and the work is rather dull compared to the acid and sand blasting as well. It is also subject to splotching and streaking if not performed correctly. Also chemical glass etching is comparatively limited to acid and sand abrasive etching because you cannot use a variety of techniques that you can otherwise use with the latter art forms.

Acid Glass etching still exists today but fewer and fewer artists are practicing the craft due the life threatening risks that the technique demands from its practitioner. Although modified forms of the art have bee created it still cannot replace the grandeur and the antiquity of this Victorian aged art form.
About the Author
Ales Lombergar is an acid etching artist specializing in unique acid glass etching and glass etching techniques.
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