Sunday, May 24, 2009

Glass Etching: a Tutorial

Have you ever tried etching glass?  It is remarkably easy, and the results are impressive.

I first etched glass when I was about 11 years old.  I made Christmas ornaments out of little glass squares.  They turned out great, and my mom still hangs them in her tree every year.

First, you will need etching cream.  You can probably get some at your favorite craft store.  They didn't carry any at our JoAnn, but they had it at Michaels.  At our store they kept it locked up, so be sure to ask a clerk if you can't find it.

Etching cream is rather pricey.  This is the medium size bottle and it was $27.  But I'm no dummy.  When I saw the price at check out, I ask the lady to put it back and I came back two days later when I had a 40% off coupon.  Love those 40% and 50% coupons!  But if you just want to try it, they sell a small bottle for about half that price, so you don't have to make a huge investment to get started.

You will also need regular clear contact paper and a non-metal tool like a tongue depressor, popsicle stick, or plastic butter knife to spread the cream.

When it comes to the glass, usually the cheaper the better.  Anything treated or tempered usually won't work.  I got those pretty square plates at Target after Christmas for 75% off.  The box was Christmasy, but the plates weren't.  I found that jar at a garage sale.  The dollar store is also a great place to find glass to etch.  You can also etch mirrors, glass in picture frames, etc.  Use your imagination!

First, you need to cut your contact paper into a stencil.  I used my Big Shot.

Carefully stick the stencil you made onto the glass.  Remember, you use the negative.  The cream sticks where the stencil isn't.  The contact paper protects the glass from the cream.  Be sure to press down the edges really well so the cream doesn't seep underneath.

Spread the cream over the negative space in your stencil.  You don't need a ton, but just enough to make sure it gets good coverage.  Be very careful not to get any off the edge of the stencil onto the glass because it will etch any glass it touches.  Also be very careful not to get it on you skin or in your eyes.  If you do, rinse immediately with water.

All the directions are on the bottle.

Then comes the easy part - just wait 5 minutes...

Then rinse it all off with water.  Make sure you get it all off.  Be sure not to rinse it off in a porcelain sink (at least not a lot of it).  Do it in a steel sink, or outside with the hose.

Peel the stencil off to reveal the image.  It will look better as it dries.

See what I mean.  Easy.

But I am Attic Gal Rachelle, so I couldn't just stop there. I was just getting started.  I die cut a bunch of butterflies. 

If you don't have a die cut machine, you can use punches, or even an exacto knife to cut your own stencil.  You can also use tape to make stripes, or the negatives of sticker sheets.  Use your imagination!  Just remember that you need the negative of the image.

Then I followed the same steps.  1) Stick on the stencils

2) Apply cream  3) Wait 5 minutes  4) Rinse

TaDa!  My butterfly jar is complete!  Isn't that cool?

Really, the possibilities are endless. 

Etch away, ladies.  Etch away.


  1. Great tutorial. Steps were easy to follow. Thanks for the tip on the price and the reminder about their coupon!

  2. Such a neat idea! I will have to try it. Thanks!