Lettering on a Curved Surface

Author: Kathryn Whitacre


Revised: August 03, 2005

When I need to letter on an uneven surface I very carefully wrap the surface with thin paper. I may need to cut gussets and carefully tape them so the paper conforms to the glass. Then I mark where I want the writing to go. Say names are to go around the glass an inch and a half from the lip. I use my technique for marking glasses (see other hint), but mark the paper. I very carefully open the paper to see how the mark looks. I then transfer this curve to my drawing program-- Freehand-- where I can bind text to a path. (This means I can make the text follow a curve.) Before I had Freehand I would layout the text. Trim it very close to the text and cut thin cuts between the letters so I could manipulate them around a curve.

Once the lettering is on the curve necessary to make the lettering look straight when applied to the glass, I transfer it to the photo frisket or copy it onto the resist and hand cut it. This method lacks a bit in sophistication, but has stood me in good stead for many years.

I hope it works for you. It will help get rid of the droopy corners in text as it flows around a glass that has compound curves.


While holding a marker in a fixed location rotate glass to achieve an even baseline all the way around the glass. This may now be used to place the lines of writing or graphic design upon. By transferring the line to the paper, when the paper is opened up you can see the curve of the glass.

Cut between letters careful not to cut the letters.  Only cut to the baseline of the letters and then carefully ease the lettering open to flow with the shape of the glass.  NOTE: sometimes you may need to cut from the top down.  Other times from the base up...it depends upon the shape of the glass

Once I have the lettering's correct curve figured out I transfer the finished layout to the frisket or photo mask.  Then apply to glassware. Even if you don't get it 'exactly' the adjustment will minimize the "frown" or "smile" effect that lettering going around a curved glass can have. I wish you luck.








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