How to Etch Glass

Page 1: Gather Your Glass Etching Supplies

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Believe it or not, etching glass can be fairly simple! Use these guidelines and suggested supplies to make a variety of decorative items.

Start out by gathering all the supplies you need.

  • Pattern - You might want to start with one that does not have a lot of small detail. Clip art and coloring books are wonderful sources for patterns.
  • Glass - Any glass object or mirror will do. You can use jars, drinking glasses, etc. It might be wise to practice on an old jar before trying a window or mirror!
  • Window Cleaner - Always start with a clean surface.
  • Contact Paper - Clear or plain, white works best. You can also make simple stripes using masking tape, etc.
  • Carbon Paper - Used to trace your pattern onto the contact paper.
  • Utility Knife - Used to cut your pattern out of the contact paper.
  • Etching Cream - You should be able to find some at your local craft store, or you can buy it online!
  • Foam Brush - Used to apply etching creme. Might also be able to use paper towels. Read the manufacturer's suggestion for your etching creme to see what is suitable.
  • Latex Gloves - To protect your hands from the acid in the etching creme. it is also a good idea to wear eye protection and a long sleeve shirt.

Once you have gathered all these supplies you are ready to begin...

Once you have gathered all your supplies you are ready to begin! Start out by reading the suggestions from the manufacturer of the etching cream you purchased and follow their recommendations. They should be very similar to the information shared here.

Make sure you wear latex gloves when working with etching cream; a long sleeve shirt and eye protection are also a good idea. Make sure the area you are working in is well-ventilated and the work surface is covered.

The etching cream is an acid and it will etch anything it comes in contact with.

Clean your glass using window cleaner. Make sure it is dry and free of all dust and lint.

Cut a piece of contact paper at least a few inches larger than your pattern.

Place the contact paper on your glass where you want the etching to be; smooth out all air bubbles.

Place the carbon paper over the contact paper and then place the pattern over the carbon paper (secure these with a few, small pieces of masking tape if you like).

Trace your pattern onto the contact paper. Once done, remove the pattern and carbon paper.

Using a sharp utility knife cut all the details out of the contact paper. Remove pieces of the contact paper so only the sections of the glass that you want etched are exposed.

Make sure that all of the edges of the remaining pieces of contact paper are stuck tightly to the glass.

Put on the latex gloves.

Use a foam brush to spread a thick layer of etching cream onto the exposed sections of your design (you can also use a paper towel). Be generous with the etching cream; if it is applied to thinly, your pattern could look uneven or streaked!

Set your glass in a safe spot and wait the amount of time required for the brand of etching cream you are using (this can vary, usually from 5 to 15 minutes).

After the prescribed amount of time, remove the etching cream usually by running water over it. Again, read the specific instructions for the brand of etching cream you purchased.

Once the cream is washed off you can remove the contact paper to reveal your design. Wash your glass and you are done!