How to Etch Glass

Gather Your Glass Etching Supplies for the Etching Process

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Etching glass can be fairly simple for beginners. Use these guidelines and suggested supplies to make a variety of decorative items. First, start out by gathering all the supplies you need.

Supply List to Etch Glass

  • Pattern: You might want to start with a pattern 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, including jars and drinking glasses. We suggest practicing on an old jar before trying a window or mirror.
  • Window Cleaner: Always start with a clean surface.
  • Contact Paper: Clear or plain contact paper works but white works best. You can also make simple stripes using masking tape.
  • Carbon Paper: Used to trace your pattern onto the contact paper.
  • Utility Knife: Cut your pattern out of the contact paper using a utility knife.
  • Etching Cream: Find etching cream at your local craft store, or you can buy it online.
  • Foam Brush: The foam brush is used to apply etching creme, and you can often use paper towels. Read the manufacturer's suggestion for your etching creme to see what is suitable.
  • Latex Gloves: 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 of your supplies, it's time to begin etching. First, it is important to read the suggestions from the manufacturer on the back of the etching cream you purchased and follow their recommendations.

Step by Step Instructions for Glass Etching

  1. Make sure you wear latex gloves when working with etching cream. A long sleeve shirt and eye protection is also recommended. Ensure the area you are working in is well-ventilated and the work surface is covered, as the etching cream is an acid and it will etch anything it comes in contact with.
  1. Clean your glass using window cleaner. Make sure it is dry and free of all dust and lint.
  2. Cut a piece of contact paper at least a few inches larger than your pattern.
  3. Place the contact paper on your glass where you want the etching to be and then smooth out all air bubbles.
  4. Put the carbon paper over the contact paper and then place the pattern over the carbon paper. Consider securing these with a few small pieces of masking tape.
  5. Trace your pattern onto the contact paper. Once done, remove the pattern and carbon paper.
  6. 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.
  7. Ensure all of the edges of the remaining pieces of contact paper are stuck tightly to the glass.
  8. Next, 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 as if it is applied too thinly, your pattern could look uneven or streaked.
  9. Set your glass in a safe spot and wait the amount of time required for the brand of etching cream you are using, which varies from five to fifteen minutes.
  1. After the prescribed amount of time, remove the etching cream. Typically, this is done by running water over it. Read the specific instructions for the brand of etching cream you purchased and follow their specific instructions.
  2. Once the cream is washed off, you can remove the contact paper to reveal your design. Wash your glass and you are done!