Photography by Dan Engongora
Looking for a fun craft or a great gift idea? Though this project may seem difficult, etching designs on glass or mirror is as simple as applying a cream over a stencil and then rinsing. This is a great idea for creating unique and personalized designs to glassware, door plaques, windows, and wherever else your creative flair takes you. The results are not only beautiful (think great gifts) but permanent and food-and dishwasher-safe as well.
Materials and Tools
- Etching Cream
- Ammonium bifluoride, (available in craft stores) the active ingredient in etching cream, changes the glass surface to a permanent frosty, matte surface in approximately 15 minutes.
Just about any glass surface can be etched. Flat glass or glass with simple curves will prove the easiest surfaces on which to apply the stencil.
Anything that covers a portion of the glass to prevent etching is called a resist (stencils, stickers and shapes cut from contact paper and clear labels). Some stencils are sold with adhesive backing. You can use spray adhesive to apply non-adhesive stencils to glass surfaces.
- Craft knife/ Scissors
A craft knife is the best for cutting out some stencils; scissors work best for others. A swivel blade works well for rounded shapes.
- Foam brushes,Paint brush
Applying Etching Cream
1.Gather material together on a flat surface in a well- ventilated, warm workspace (above 70®F, 21® C). Etching cream will not work properly in cold temperatures. It’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves to protect your skin. Read and follow all manufacturer instructions.
2.Use foam brush to put a thick, even layer of etching cream across the exposed area of the glass. Work slowly and carefully, as any spilled cream will leave a permanent mark.
3.Let stand 15 minutes, scrape cream off surface of the glass with a foam brush. (Cream can be scraped back into the original bottle for later reuse.) Rinse off the cream thoroughly with warm water, and then remove the resist. Note: only once the glass is completely dry, the etched design will be visible
The design and style of the resist are probably the most important decisions you will make in glass etching, and your options are unlimited. Although stencils are widely available in craft stores, it is simple and fun to make your own.
- Craft knife, scissors
Any of the following materials to create your resist.
- Printable clear shipping labels-available in 3 ½ X 4”, 8 ½ X 11 (Method 1)
- Contact paper (Method 2)
- You can create a stencil from just about any design, though it’s a good idea to choose images with simple lines and shapes, at least at first. Enlarge or reduce images to the desired size.
- (Method 1) Print your design onto printable clear shipping labels
(Method 2) Print your design on cardstock,cut out your design and trace onto contact paper.
3. Determine whether you want to cut out the stencil before or after applying it to the glass. This will vary according to the design. For simple designs in which you would like to save the inner portion of the stencil, cut out the design before applying the stencil. For larger or more intricate designs, apply the stencil to the glass first. Use a craft knife to cut out the stencil. Remove the inner pieces of the stencil by lifting them out from the center of the piece with the tip of the craft knife.
Materials and tools for monogrammed vase
- Initial stencil
- Etching cream
- Foam brush
- Rubber gloves
1. Print or trace an initial or design (following directions for making stencils)
2. Using your craft knife carefully cut out initial, you will be using the stencil (outer part).
3. Slowly begin to peel off the backing, then lay the stencil down gradually, smoothing it down as you work from one side to the other. Rub the resist with your fingers to make sure all areas of the resist are firmly adhered to the glass. Pay particular attention to the edges of the resist, making sure there are no wrinkles or air bubbles – where etching cream can seep in.
4. Use a slightly moistened cotton swab to wipe off any residual adhesive that may have smeared on to the glass.
5. Follow directions for applying etching cream.
For more etching ideas go to Etched Striped Glasses.
This article by EstherO. originally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine.