Snowbirds and permanent residents alike fall in love with the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona and wish to celebrate its unique flora and fauna by commissioning artistic etched glass for their homes or businesses
Artistry in Glass has specialized in Southwest-style windows since 1986 and has an extensive portfolio of proprietary designs, drawn from nature by John Wakefield.
To design a southwest-style etched glass window: measure the panel, choose your favorite elements, decide if you need privacy & choose between frosted or carved
Principals of etched glass design
The terms etched and sandblasted are used interchangeably in the decorative glass business for glass that is frosted. The good news is that etched glass is substantially cheaper than colored stained glass when comparing similar designs.
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Why choose etched glass?
Many people automatically think of stained glass when considering art glass for their home. However, the cost of labor, in particular, has made traditional stained glass extremely expensive these days.
(For a detailed explanation of stained glass costs – read this comprehensive post.)
Etched glass has a number of important advantages many of which are summarized here.
In particular, etched glass is much more affordable and much more effective in rendering Sonoran Desert plants and animals.
Design advantages of etched glass
Stained glass has many wonderful qualities, not least in its historic function in the great Gothic cathedrals of Medieval Europe, where windows brought the stories of the gospel to illiterate peasants. However, it is not ideally suited to represent Sonoran desert plants without heroic and very expensive glass painting.
Study the image below to see how prickly pears have to be represented in a folk-art cartoonish form because of the limitations of the art glass and lead came format:
Notice how the medium of etched (sandblasted) glass allows the details of thorns and flower petals to be rendered in exquisite and realistic detail. The use of shading and carving (deep etching) permits an additional level of detail in the form of 3-D sculptural effect – see drawing below.
Southwest etched glass windows – the design process
Etched glass is a fantastic medium with which to decorate your home or business. For the best results, consider the following questions:
- What is the size & shape of your window?
- Which design elements do you prefer?
- Which etched style do you like – frosted, shaded or carved?
- Do you need privacy/view control?
- Make your final choice and proof the design
Size and shape of your window
Always bear in mind the proportions of your panel when planning the design. “Landscape” panels like the ones below are not suitable for a single tall saguaro (or even a lighthouse in Maine).
To get started, email an image (or the dimensions) of the window you wish to decorate to your favorite art glass studio and indicate your favorite subject matter (Tucson customers refer to the drawings on our website).
Long, narrow panels (clerestory windows)
If you have long, skinny windows (landscape-style) like the examples below, then a panoramic Sonoran Desert scene is your best option:-
Tall skinny panels (sidelites)
If, on the other hand, your panels are tall and thin (like entryway sidelites), then tall desert plants like ocotillos, agaves, or saguaros are good choices:
Wide rectangular panels (doors)
Wider panels, often found in entry doors or shower doors are suitable for a wide range of southwestern designs.
Which design elements do you prefer?
At Artistry in Glass, we have a comprehensive portfolio of Sonoran Desert mammals and birds drawn for etching by Tucson artist, John Wakefield. Decide on your favorite plant or critter let your glass designer incorporate it into your panel.
Save time and therefore money by choosing designs already available from your favorite glass studio.
Avoid the temptation to send photographic images (colored jpegs) of animals to your glass artist. In the first place, hair is very difficult to render by sandblasting, and, second, working from jpegs is very labor-intensive.
Which etched style do you like – frosted, shaded or carved?
The customer can have control over the budget of the project by choosing inexpensive frosted glass, moderately priced shaded glass, or top-of-the-line and expensive, carved glass. Study the images below to learn about the differences:
Frosted glass is the most affordable option but, for a more artistic outcome, invest slightly more with a shaded glass panel or to make a real design statement, choose deeply carved glass.
In shaded glass, individual design elements (leaves or feathers) are shaded from unetched (black) to fully etched (white) in a technique similar to airbrush painting. The result is an attractive 3-D effect.
In carved glass, individual design elements are very deeply etched or carved so that they reflect light back to the eye of the viewer and produce a sculptural effect. Carving is most effective on overlapping elements like leaves, feathers or fish scales.
Do you need privacy or view-control
The main practical benefit of etched glass is that it can produce privacy or view-control. That is, it can diffuse the light and disguise or obscure the view.
If this is your requirement then frosted glass is your best choice.
To be effective in obscuring a view, the majority of the glass must be frosted.
If can really want to save money – choose inexpensive window film (easy to install yourself) from this selection available on Amazon.
Make your final choice and proof the design
Working with a qualified design studio like Artistry in Glass, you will have complete control over the etched glass design and etching style.
Study the etched glass examples shown below, choose your favorites, and email the reference number to Artistry in Glass.
Add any favorite animals or birds and we will draw a final design to the proportions of your panel – for your final approval.
Southwestern flora and fauna from the artists at Artistry in Glass
Study these hand-drawn options and choose your favorite. Then add or subtract animals, reptiles, and birds and we will do the rest.
Summary: the design process
Remember, at Artistry in Glass we are here to realize your aesthetic dreams – we will take any design and customize it to include your favorite Sonoran Desert animal or plant. Drawings can easily be modified to fit your window shape and scale – so call 520-320-0104 or email us for more details.
All you need to know about art glass
Commissioning stained and etched glass
- Stained glass designs from Artistry in Glass
- How to commission a stained glass window – complete advice
- How to commission an etched glass window
- How to choose the best stained glass design
- Etched or stained glass – which is better for your home?
- How much does stained glass cost?
- How much does etched glass cost?
- Is leaded glass dangerous? Learn the facts.
- Plexiglass and glass – what are the pros and cons?
- What is plexiglass used for?
- What costs more – glass or plexiglass?
- Preservation of stained glass in churches & synagogues
- How does stained glass get colored? learn from an expert!
- Is your broken stained glass panel worth repairing?
- How to care for and clean stained glass
- How to repair cracked stained glass
- What is Dalle de Verre?
- How to repair Dalle de Verre
- What to do about bowed & sagging stained glass
- How to care for a stained glass skylight
- Can my stained glass lampshade be repaired?
- What is the difference between sandblasting & etching?
- Obscure and frosted glass – all you need to know!
- How to save money when buying glass
- Glossary of important terms used in decorative glass
- 14 Ways to sell stained glass
- What is imitation or faux stained glass?
Guides to stained glass design
- Guide for designing abstract stained glass
- Why choose abstract contemporary stained glass
- How to design a Frank Lloyd Wright-style window
- Designing a WWII-era stained glass Waco glider
- Stained glass and Black Lives Matter
- How Is stained glass used today?
Unique Mirror Resources from Artistry in Glass
Mirror Design & layout
- How are mirrors made?
- What is a beveled mirror?
- What is a two-way mirror?
- Best mirrors for bedrooms
- How to size and position your wall mirror
- How to order custom etched mirrors
- Best places to hang dining room mirrors
- How much do wall mirrors cost?
- Shop the MIRROR Family Package
Mirror Installation & Removal
- How to hang a wall mirror
- How to frame a builder’s grade bathroom mirror
- How to hang a frameless mirror with glue
- Best clips for hanging mirrors
- How to attach a mirror to a closet door
- How to remove a mirror glued to the wall