I have a long and slightly bitter history trying to laser-engrave glass. The back of my old iPhone 4 wasn’t having it, and the fire flowers I tried to cultivate didn’t quite pass muster. Still, when a friend wants some glass engraved for her wedding, I’m certainly not going to turn her down!
Lara and Paul got married on August 23rd, and to celebrate the occasion, Lara wanted some personalized votive holders to give to guests as wedding favors. With a simple, clean design based off of her wedding invitations and website, my only concern was whether the glass she sourced would fight with me as much as my fire flower vase did. The votive holders she chose were also coated in a blue surface material, so I had some new concerns about whether the laser would properly burn away the blue.
As it turns out, I had little cause for worry. Not only did the glass etch beautifully with only a few test engravings to get the power settings right, it also cut clear through the blue, creating an excellent contrast even when viewed through the other side of the glass. One technique for engraving glass that I learned about after my previous attempts involved dithering the engraving slightly by marking locations to engrave with a dark gray rather than black proper. While this results in a slightly less detailed engraving, it reduces chipping, which was an issue I ran into a lot with the fire flower vase. In this case, though, I didn’t have to dither the engraving at all!
There was a gross amount of votive holders to engrave—literally 144—so I made sure to take what I learned about templates and I was able to process 20 at a time. This would make the project take far less time than processing a single glass at a time. It also allowed me to more easily implement one design element: a flower mid-piece that either faces left or right. In the design file for the template I whipped up, ten votive holders would feature right-facing flowers and ten would feature left-facing flowers. It’s a neat way of achieving balance that would have been nightmarish processing one holder at a time.
I come away from this week’s project definitely feeling better about working with glass, but I’ve surely got a lot left to learn, and a whole rotary engraving attachment still to acquire!