Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DIY Glass Etching

I know what you're thinking.  "Glass etching, Michele?  Really?  Isn't that for, like robots with lasers or something?"  It's really not too difficult though, especially now that I've already made all of the mistakes for you!  Up until yesterday, I didn't realize how easy it actually was to etch glass.  

It started off with an oil bottle at Walmart for $3, that was just plain glass.  I thought I'd use it to keep my dish soap in, so I could keep it out on the counter.  But plain glass?  That's kind of boring.  So I decided to change it up, ever so subtly.  Here's what I did to etch my own drawing into this glass bottle.  

I have a plate that hangs on my kitchen wall.  I love the look of this plate and wanted to replicate the general idea on my bottle.  So I cut a piece of vinyl that I got at Hobby Lobby.  (It came in a big roll, near the Cricut stuff) and drew my vine/leaf looking picture right on the vinyl.  Then I taped the vinyl to a self healing mat and cut away my picture with an exacto knife. 
Then I took the backing off of the vinyl and placed it on my glass bottle.  Make sure you really press it down good and there aren't any bubbles.  Especially near the edges where the etching will be.    
I took the glass etching cream...
I used Armour Etch from Hobby Lobby.

...and applied it liberally with a paintbrush to the vinyl, where the glass was showing through.   Be careful with this step.  This actually etches the glass, it's NOT paint.  And it WILL etch wherever the cream is. Then I set the timer for 20  minutes and waited. (The directions on the bottle said 5 minutes, but I felt like after 5 minutes on my test piece the stuff barely scratched the pun I left it on for a while longer)
When the 20 minutes was up, I rinsed the cream off and peeled off the vinyl.  
 Tada!  It's definitely subtle and understated, but I still think it turned out pretty good.  
Here it is with the dish soap in it. 
For the other project I did, I got a plain glass plate to make a holiday cookie plate.  I got a set of big letter stencils and a snowflake shaped hole puncher. 

My lovely assistant.  He's cute and all, but this really isn't a kid friendly craft, so I did it when he was sleeping.

Here's the part where I tell you what NOT to do.  DON'T try to just tape the stencil to the plate and put the etching cream on.  Your etching cream WILL seep through the stencil and look terrible.  

Here is what you CAN do.  If you have a Cricut machine (which I don't) you can use it to cut your vinyl in any letter or shape or whatever picture that amazing machine can make.  This would definitely be the preferred choice.  But for those of us unfortunate folk that don't have fancy machines, there are a couple other options.  You can either put your stencil on your vinyl and exacto knife trace it to make a vinyl stencil.  (Like I did on the soap bottle)

In hind sight, I should have reversed the stencil.  This "B" would only go on the top of the plate, and I am doing the etching from the bottom of the plate.
OR, you can use some spray adhesive and spray the stencil to stick it to the plate.

I used Tree House spray adhesive from Hobby Lobby.
Make sure you read the directions on your adhesive.  This one said to spray just one surface for a more temporary placement.  In this case I sprayed the stencil, NOT the plate.  If you spray both you'll run the risk of the stencil not coming off and you'd have a hot mess on on your plate. 

I did my stencil on the back side of the plate.  I didn't want to compromise the integrity of the top of the plate, even though I'll probably just use it for cookies.  I sprayed the stencil with the adhesive, let it sit for 1 minutes (like the directions said) then put it on the plate and made sure I really pushed down on all of the edges to keep the cream from bleeding. 

Then I cut out all of my snowflakes with my hole punch.  I cut it right out of the vinyl.
 And put a ton of those on the plate too.  Really making sure to push it down to the glass.  This was the most tedious process of this project.
 Then I apply the etching cream and wait 20 minutes.  (By the time I finished applying the cream to all of the little snowflakes, the cream had been sitting on the letter B for probably 10 minutes already.  It's okay though.  It turned out even.)
 Then I rinsed and took off all of the vinyl and the stencil.  The vinyl I threw away, but you can definitely reuse that stencil. I used some Goo Gone to get the adhesive off.  
 And there you have it....
 It was tough getting a good picture, because it is so reflective.  Here it is in less light.

Usually at the holidays, I make a plate of goodies for each of my neighbors.  I was thinking of making these plates with the family's last name initial on them.  It might also be cute to etch something in a glass loaf pan and bake pumpkin bread in it and give that as a gift.  The possibilities are endless, really.  I keep looking around my house for more stuff I can etch!

P.S. I've had several requests for me to sell my wrap watch on my etsy site, so here it is! 


  1. Apparently I'm browsing the net for the reason that I'm looking for the blog about etched glass and I found this very cool. Keep it up!

  2. Cool tutorial for Etched Glass, got some inspiration from your DIY etching and I'll be ready to wear gloves before handling that etching cream.

  3. Thank you! After reading several other instructions, yours is my most favorite!

  4. Thank you! After reading several other instructions, yours is my most favorite!