What does a glass engraver do?
Engravers use hand tools or machinery to cut the surface of glass for decorative purposes.
They may produce original designs or copy existing ones. Items engravers could work on include boxes, goblets, bowls, decanters, mirrors and panels. Each method of engraving produces a different effect and requires a different level of skill.
Hand engraving is usually used for single objects such as plates. Machine engraving is used for mass production, where a range of objects are engraved with the same design or wording, such as sets of commemorative or souvenir glasses.
Methods of glass engraving include the use of:
copper wheel lathes, machine-driven wheels to shape the cut, and a mix of oil and grit to do the cutting
hand-held pendant motors using assorted tungsten or diamond rotary burrs
acid etch, where hydrofluoric acid is applied to areas to be decorated
sand/grit blasting, which uses grit to erode areas of glass that have not been masked off.
What's the working environment like for a glass engraver?
Employed engravers usually work 37-40 hours a week. Self-employed engravers' hours are more flexible, depending on the amount and type of work. They may include evenings and/or weekends.
Engravers work in workshops or factories. Some glass engraving involves noisy, dusty working conditions, so ear protection, goggles and masks may be required.
What does it take to become a glass engraver?
As an engraver you will need:
good hand to eye co-ordination and manual dexterity
interest and ability in art, particularly drawing
good eyesight (with spectacles or contact lenses if worn) for detailed engraving
patience, concentration and a methodical approach
business skills and the ability to market and sell your work if self-employed.
Glass engraver career opportunities
Entry to glass engraving is very competitive.
Vacancies are scarce and the number of people working in glass engraving is decreasing. Some engravers are employed by glass manufacturing companies and engraving companies.
There has been an increase in the number of self-employed glass engravers working from home or from small workshops.
Work abroad may be possible.
If you would like to know anything about glass engraving that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Tel: 0800 093 0444
Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St
International Glass Centre
Tel: 01384 363067