Glass Etching – Technique Tuesday

Glass etching is such a fun technique and is a perfect way to make a great Valentine’s Day gift!

One of my customers and good friend made this at a recent class.

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I thought a “Glass Etching 101 Tutorial” would rock it on the blog!

Today I’ll cover how to etch using vinyl or contact paper images. Tomorrow I’ll discuss embossing with a rubber stamp and embossing powder.

A great way to start learning this technique is to go to Walmart or the Dollar Store and buy some inexpensive clear glass plates.  A flat surface is ALWAYS going to be easier to work on than a round surface; it’s a lot easier to get your stencil to lay flat on a flat surface than it is on a round one.  When the stencil isn’t completely flat the edges can buckle slightly and even the smallest little pucker can allow etching cream to bleed underneath and ruin the etched image.  For this reason, I tend to stay away from rounded mugs and much prefer something with a flat side such as a plate, flat baking dish, or a mason jar “mug”with a flat edge.

You will also need some “Etching Creme”. I prefer Armour Etch:

I’ve used this brand many times with excellent results, even when I was a “novice etcher”. No matter which brand you use, before you apply it, you need to make sure you shake the bottle well  Etching cream that’s not well mixed will give poor results.

You’ll need a few more things even before you apply etching cream to your glass piece: a sponge brush, rubber gloves (the etching creme will burn so gloves will help), rubbing alcohol, and a stencil.

If you own a machine (ie a Cricut) that will cut vinyl, or contact paper, you can purchase an image and cut out your image easily using your machine.

Amazon also has stencils to purchase that you can trace onto vinyl or contact paper:

 After an image is traced or printed on vinyl, you can manually cut the areas out with a hobby knife such as an Exacto knife.

Once you have your image, you are ready to begin the etching process. Remember:  the etching cream is an acid, and etches away at the surface of your glass, transforming the look of your glass permanently.  You cannot rub or wash the etching off.

  1. Take your glass piece (in this example we will assume you are using a flat, glass plate) and clean off the surface to be etched with rubbing alcohol. This will remove any oils that might prevent the stencil from sticking well. Let glass dry.
  2. Lay down your stencil on the glass, taking care to smooth it down well so no bubbles. Leave the excess vinyl on (as shown in next photo-notice the extra border around the word stencil) so you don’t get any excess etching cream on an area of the plate that you don’t want to be etched.

3. Put on your gloves and start applying the etching cream over the stencil using the sponge brush. Coat it well but don’t be wasteful-the cream isn’t cheap! Armor Etch’s directions say to leave on for one minute minute, but I have found that a thick layer of etching cream left on for 4-5 minutes gives a better, more defined etch.

4. When the time is up, run the glass under warm, not hot, water to remove the etching cream.  Once all the cream is off, remove the stencil and re-wash and dry your glass well. Your piece is dishwasher safe, ready for gifting, maybe even with a batch of cookies. One note-some people prefer to etch the back of the plate if food will be on it. I’ve done the etching on the front several times and never had a problem; personal preference.

That’s all there is to this type of etching. Why not give it a try and then you’ll have a personalized gift for your Valentine cookies!

Please give me a shout if you need clarification on any of these steps and be sure to come back tomorrow to see Part B, etching using a rubber stamp and embossing powder.

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