Engraved glass pieces are beautiful to display and serve as great gifts. However, glass engraving is also an incredible hobby (or job) because it allows you to be artistic, even if you aren't naturally gifted in art. Even if you can't draw, chances are you can engrave glass yourself with the right tools and some practice and patience.
The tools you start with will depend on how much you plan to engrave. For instance, if you only want to try it out, you most likely won't want to purchase some of the expensive tools, such as a handheld rotary tool. You can also use a hand engraving tool, but you'll need diamond coated bits for either. The motorised tools will help you go faster as the tool does most of the work. Although the hand tools require you to put more pressure, they can create finer, more delicate lines. Most important of all is safety equipment. Goggles, a face mask and ear plugs are must-haves to protect your eyes and lungs from glass dust.
Practice makes perfect, at least as far as technique goes. Every piece might end up slightly different, even if using the same pattern, because this is an art. To get familiar with your tools and technique, and learn the extent of your own power as far as how much pressure to apply, you don't want to ruin any expensive glass pieces. A good option is to pick up some heavier glass from thrift stores or use old pieces you may have stored deep in your cupboards.
Clean the glass first, then lay it on a piece of non-skid vinyl on your work surface and secure it in place. Put a dark-coloured piece of cloth in the glass so you can easily watch your progress. Make sure you have a clean lint-free cloth nearby to wipe glass dust from your glass.
Now you can engrave your selected design into the glass. Use photos, tracing paper, wallpaper, fabric, leaves or whatever you find nearby. Spraying a small amount of adhesive on the interior of the glass and then adding the dark cloth will help hold it in place. Of course, if you are a talented freehand artist, you can engrave freehand as well. Your family and friends will appreciate the time and thought you've put into these custom pieces when you give them as gifts.