Etching terminology for U.S users?

I am from the U.S. and a bit confused by some of the terminology on the techniques page. For the masking agents, you mention “bitumen” and “Fablon”. Is bitumen related to asphaultum or another metal etching ground?

Also, I’m wondering is “Fablon” is a brand name of masking film. Can you give me descriptions of these products?

I stumbled upon your site while researching etching. Your work is amazing! I’d love to learn more about etching colored glass. Thanks. by Marian

Milly’s answer:

You make a really valid point about my terminology – it obviously doesn’t travel across the Atlantic…

‘Fablon’ is a brand name for sticky-backed plastic – is that your ‘masking film’? I’ve also heard it called ‘contact paper’, if that helps. You can buy it in stationers. Try and get heavy duty if there’s a choice, and it sticks better if it’s left for a day or two. Does that make sense? When I was a kid we used to protect our school books with it, but perhaps I’m showing my age! The transparent one is best, otherwise you won’t be able to monitor the changes in the glass colour.

Bitumen is used primarily as a resist for printing. It’s black and viscous, and is a more manageable version of the black tar that is used by builders when sealing flat a roof! I’m afraid I’m having the same trouble as you with the word ‘asphaultum’ – does that sound like the same thing as bitumen to you? You can also buy it in a spray can version in car parts and accessories shops – it’s used for protecting the underside of vehicles – and this can be sprayed on to glass to act as a resist. This gives a very different texture to painting or sponging.

Are you using hydrofluoric acid? It’s the only one that really works, but it is very, very dangerous – both to your lungs and in terms of burns. Be careful! But of course, the more dangerous the technique, the better the result – acid etching is really unsurpassed in the textures and colours you can achieve.

I hope this answer your questions? Let me know if not.

Thanks for your kind comments about my work by the way – it gave me a nice boost.


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