Photo Transfer for Sandblasting

I do LOVE my garden- my hens, the flowers, the fruit trees, the mason bees and all the birds that show up to participate in the daily party. Now I have a way of capturing a moment and turning it into a piece of glass art. It’s called phototransfer. It’s like silk screening, but for glass…

Here is an example of the photos of my little darlings, now represented in glass coasters, reminding us constantly how cute they are.

So, How DOES that happen? Let’s take a look, but first a few more images of using a photo transfer method on glass, using my garden as backdrop:

So how does this magic happen? It is a labor of love, with several steps, that for someone like me who has her origins in the operating room, is filled with technical equipment. I consider it my own bit of glass “cosmetic surgery.” Less risk than surgery, though, because the worst case scenario is that if the image doesn’t turn out, I can just blast the glass clean and start again. (It’s not a cheap endeavor though- the materials are expensive!)

Let’s start at the beginning. First I collect my photos on my digital camera. It’s essential to have full resolution photos to begin. Below you will see the sample photos of daffodils, periwinkle, plum blossom and hellebore.

The next step is to run the photos through Photoshop, sizing the image to just shy of the size of the glass I will put it on, then create a stamp image.

Now that the stamp image is done, I print the photos onto a piece of vellum, so that I can develop the image onto a very special product called Rayzist. Rayzist is a UV sensitive film that can withstand the sandblasting, and therefore will serve as the masking agent when I blast. The Rayzist film is placed in my UV light box, pressed against the vellum image, and is processed for 20 seconds. This is a photo of my Letralite UV light box. The vellum image is pressed against the Rayzist under this black rubber piece, that prevents ambient light from entering while it processes.

Letralite UV Exposure Unit

Now I remove my processed Rayzist from the UV light box. The printed vellum image (the black ink) blocks the UV passage of light, and therefore does not “process”on the Rayzist film you see below. This unprocessed part of the Rayzist will wash away, leaving my image “positive.” At first the Rayzist just looks like its usual blue self, but see what happens after some power washing? Once the image is washed and I have my images, the film must be hung to dry.

It takes a couple hours, I have found, to get the film to dry. The side that will adhere to the glass is sticky, and is applied to the glass carefully, burnishing along the way to get all the bubbles out. All edges are sealed. I use electrical tape, to keep the sandblaster from etching where I don’t want it.

Rayzist applied, ready to blast

Now that I have sandblasted the piece, I remove the Rayzist. The glass is etched and now can receive a backfill of enamel. Yay! This is where the work shows real results. Below you see the coaster just after blasting, after removing the Rayzist, and then as I make the lovely mess of backfilling with the enamel paste.

Now that the enamel is pulled through the image, I let the paste dry, clean up the glass, and re fire to “sinter” the enamel, to make it a permanent part of the glass. Voila! (Whew!)

Design to End Product Fused Glass Owl Bowl

1 of 2 owl bowls, after first firing

1 of 2 owl bowls, after first firing.

How does a piece of fused glass take on life?  For me, there are times when I just want to “play” with the materials, and see where it takes me, however, in general I find that if I formulate an image to work toward, the end product is much more satisfying.  There is always a bit of room left over for going with the flow, adding some whimsical embellishments, and letting the piece just speak to me.

Here is an example of a start to finish piece using frits and powders as my design elements.  First, I find an image that inspires me, either a photo or conglomeration of photos or drawings that speak to me.  Then I make a little watercolor image.

Owl Watercolor, 1 of 2

This breaks the image down into some limited colors and values for me to work from.

Next, I choose my glass base colors, in this case an opaline white with a second layer of clear, then use a combination of transparent and opaque frits (ground up fusing glass in a range of sizes, from powders to chunks) to “paint” my design. Here are 2 different owl dishes at different stages of frit application

Owl 1 [caption id="attachment_2086" align="aligncenter" width="840"] Owl 2 Frit application, pre fire


I do literally use a paintbrush, but just as a dry brush to move the frit around and push it into place. You can see that one must use one’s imagination to some extent, so having experience with how the glass behaves informs me as to how it will look after firing.

1 of 2 owl bowls, after first firing

Here is how the piece looks a first firing. It is now a 5 inch flat round piece.

The final step is to shape the flat piece of glass into the bowl.  I use a ceramic mold that I set the glass into, then fire it a third time, at a lower temperature, just enough to allow the glass to “relax” into the mold.

Final Firing

I use this 5 inch round dish as a background for both simple designs and frit animal paintings, as pictured here with  more basic design, and my other backyard friends, the flickers.

I continue to add what I refer to as my “birdie bowls” collection. They are a heartwarming reminder of the joy the feathered beings bring to our lives.











Fused Glass Art by Janie Yakovlevitch

I began my love of glass in the early 1990’s when a flameworker caught my eye in a bead shop.  I started taking any and all classes from various artists in  Seattle, originally creating Glasspassions as an expression of that art form, making beads, bottle stoppers, lamp finials, and jewelry.

Glass Bead






Bottle Stoppers

Lamp Finials

Although I continue to do my tabletop torch work, selling my work on Etsy as Glasspassions, I eventually was introduced to fused glass, and down the rabbit hole I went.  Thanks to my dear friend Claire Barnett from Seattle Mosaic Arts, I was charged with becoming the “fusing director” at the studio where I spent so much of my time exercising my mosaic muscles.  Did I mention I love doing mosaics also?  I digress…

Lets talk about fused glass. Fused glass is created primarily outside the kiln, then worked into its final rendition through single or multiple firings within the kiln, where the artist must understand the science, but leave open to chance, a final outcome.

My work is heavily influenced by the experiential encounters of what is happening around me.  I love my garden! It is an ongoing source of wonder in its constant evolution.  The plants, the birds, the bees, and my darling hens offer a world of inspiration.

I also love the sea, and spend as much time snorkeling and scuba diving as vacation allows, so sometimes just it is simply the colors I see in the coral that rock my world, and sometimes it is the actual animal that dictates the outcome of my work.