Carved Glass

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Carving is different than etching in that carving removes some of the thickness of the glass creating a three dimensional product whereas etching is a roughing of the surface of the glass and the glass remains flat. I have ranked sand etching and sand carving methods below in terms of skill required to create:  

    Single Stage Etching: The glass is etched to a white frost and other areas are left clear creating the design. This is the easiest to create and can even be done by machines.

    Multi Stage Etching: The first stage is etched to a white frost; subsequent stages are etched progressively lighter and finally clear glass. This is more difficult than Single Stage but can still be done by machines.

    Shaded Etching: The glass is etched creating a dimensional effect by varying the amount of etching. This is different than Staged etching in that the etching is not even but varied. The result is a very dimensional look with no removal of glass thickness as in carved glass. This can only be done well by a skilled artisan.

    Carved: The glass is carved creating a true three dimensional product. Carving results in removal of glass thickness. This can only be done well by a skilled artisan.

    Carved and Painted: The glass is first carved as described above. The glass is then cleaned and a new mask is applied and cut. The glass is then painted using glass paints and airbrushing techniques. This can only be done well by a skilled artisan.  


    Doors – Carved glass is commonly used in exterior and interior door applications. The common installation method for wood doors is with wood glass stops nailed into the door. Metal and Fiberglass doors can use “carved inserts” which include a screw together plastic frame. We often use ½” glass and a standard frame that accepts that thickness of glass. Additionally, the glass can be made insulated to a thickness of 1” for a standard 1” frame. The carved glass can be made tempered or laminated to meet building codes when required.

    Windows – Carved glass is commonly used in exterior window applications and is a great option to control the sun, add privacy and beauty. We typically install by mounting in front of the existing window as a window treatment using clear clips or wood trim. Alternately, if the window glass is insulated, the glass could be swapped with the same thickness carved glass or a carved glass insulated unit made to the same thickness. Please note the weight of the glass may impede the operation of certain styles of windows.

    Room Dividers – Room dividers are a great use of carved glass as it is seen from both sides. We typically install using wood trim or glass clamps such as CRL UC77 or Z810 for a more frameless look. Also consider sculptural techniques such as free form shapes and chipped edges. If being installed on a knee wall consider only attaching to the two sides and using a freeform chipped edge. Even on a four sided opening this same look can be accomplished by not extending the glass to the top of the opening and free form or chip the top edge. Room dividers are also a great application for lighted bases, please call if you are interested and we can quote.

    Niches – Niches are similar to room dividers but only seen from the one side. Carved and painted glass really looks great in niche applications especially when backlit. Also consider sculptural techniques. Installation methods are similar to room dividers, wood trim or glass clamps like CRL UC77 or Z810.

    Table Tops – Both carved or carved and painted glass look great in tabletop applications, often just done in borders. We can supply all shapes and edges as required. Typically glass is annealed due to the exposed edge.

    Shower Enclosures – We can supply carved and/or painted glass for frameless shower applications with all the notches and cutouts. Carved side faces out for easy cleaning on the inside of the shower. We tend to use the CRL UC77 clamps and GEN377 adjustable hinges for many of our shower installs.

    Wall Art/Donor Walls/Dedication Plaques – Carved glass should be installed on a dark background so it shows well or the glass should be painted if on a light background. We typically use CRL ¾” standoff system.

    Backsplashes – We can carve and paint glass for backsplashes. We typically use 3/8” annealed or if going behind a stove we recommend tempered. We usually install by removing the electrical plate covers, install the glass, and reinstall plate covers with longer screws and silicone the top edge of the glass. We can make matching electrical plate covers if desired.

    Countertops – We can carve and paint glass for countertops. We have been making most fully supported countertops using ¾” annealed glass. Laminated or Tempered can be used for cantilevered bar tops.  

    Cabinetry – Carved glass is often used for cabinetry applications. We typically use 3/8” annealed and clip or silicone it in. The cabinet door may need to be routed to prepare for the glass installation.

    Traditional Stained Glass and Custom Bevels – We have done several stained glass designs which require painting. We have taken the stained glass pieces and carved and painted detail as required. We have also carved designs on beveled glass to be used in leaded glass panels (think churches). We can work with your stained glass fabricator, like Infinity Glass International, to provide the carved and painted glass ready for them to include in their fabrication. 


Carved glass looks great when edge lit. We can fabricate custom fluorescent or LED edge lighting. There are several manufacturers of commercial edge lighting systems on the market if your budget allows.  


Annealed – We prefer to carve annealed as we are able to carve it more deeply. We also are able to carve holes though the glass and provide various chipped edge options.

Tempered – We do a lot of carving on tempered glass, especially for shower enclosures. The carving on tempered is not as deep as the carving on annealed. We can deep carve annealed glass then temper after the fact however additional charges will apply.

Low Iron (Starphire) – Low iron glass is often used when edge lighting as the light will travel further. Please keep in mind that you must handle the glass extremely carefully in these applications as the edge lit low iron glass highlights any scratches.

Textured – We have been doing a lot of carving on “Acid Etched”, “Gluechip” and “Cast” glass. Using textured glass is great for privacy applications where you don’t want the background to be carved or frosted.  


The first option is to front carve or back carve. We typically back carve so the smooth side faces out. It is personal preference and front carving can be done also.

The second option is clear or frosted background. There are many ways to carve the same design depending on your objectives. The most common method is to carve the design and leave the background clear. In obscurity applications, the background can also be frosted or we can carve an acid etched or textured glass. To make the design pop when carved on a frosted background, the carving can be sealed (creates a shiny look) or a thin clear thin line can be left around the carving.

When carving mirror the same ideas apply. The front side or back side can be carved. When opting for back side carving ensure there is enough uncarved mirror to allow it to be installed if using mirror mastic. The mirror mastic cannot be applied to the back carved surface.  


Most applications do not require the carving to be sealed. We offer several options for sealing in applications where it may be beneficial. High traffic or high moisture applications may benefit from being sealed. All painted glass will be sealed to protect the paint.  


Carved glass can be painted using airbrushing techniques and special glass paints. We use transparent, metallic and opaque paints as necessary to create the look you are trying to achieve. Like carving, painting is an art form and is done by our skilled glass painter to create the best end result. An important point with painted glass is we stress that this is a one-of-a-kind piece and colors are not exact. For example, a light red and dark red are achieved by applying the same base color from a lighter to heavier amount. Regarding specific colors and tones, the more information you can provide the better, including photos, fabrics, and color samples. Please take advantage of our sample program if you are a particularly nervous or demanding client. We will create a 12” x 12” carved and painted sample using a section of your design that you can approve.  


    ETCHED/CARVED GLASS ONLY - Etched and Carved glass are relatively maintenance free. Routine cleaning should be done by spraying a soft cloth with non-ammonia glass cleaner and wiping the glass. Spray the cloth, not the glass. If the staining is not removed by glass cleaner use Pure Acetone, again applied to the cloth directly then wipe the glass.

    SEALED AND PAINTED GLASS - Care should be taken to not scratch the sealed or painted surface. Dusting is the preferred method for cleaning. If stains are more stubborn, use progressively more aggressive cleaning methods starting with warm water, followed by warm water with mild dish soap and finally non-ammonia glass cleaner. Harsh abrasion or solvents can remove the sealant and paint. 



Please understand that carved glass is a hand created product. The same design can be carved many different ways. Our carver will review the design and determine how to carve the glass to create the best end result as he sees it. If you have specific requirements please make sure they are well communicated.

How to Order

The SGO Designer Glass experience begins in either our studio, your home, or your business. During this step, we gather information about your project and needs. We will sit down with you to look at numerous samples with different colors, textures and thicknesses, as well as discuss all of your installation options. If you are unsure of what you'd like to do, we can help. Our design consultants have numerous tools and templates and are ready to assist you in developing your ideas.



To Request more information or to make an appointment, you may contact us by email or by phone. 

Phone: 978-710-5210
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