Gussied Up Glass: 20 Crafts Made Using Etching Cream and Paint
On its own, a plain glass surface is functional and smooth: A tumbler showcases the drink within; a mirror shimmers like a tranquil pool. But a touch of unexpected contrast—the roughened, frosty texture of etched glass—can add drama, elegance, or functionality to many household objects.
Although glass etching has been around since the 1700s, it was not commonly used until the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when new technology made large sheets of glass widely available for doors, windows, and other architectural details. This abundance of household glass created a market for decorative glass among Victorian homeowners, who embellished their windows with elaborate floral designs. In the early days of glass decorating, artisans painted a "resist" over areas meant to stay smooth, then used hydrofluoric acid to eat away the exposed glass. In the late 19th century, craftsmen abandoned acid etching in favor of sandblasting, which is less expensive and less dangerous. Today, professional etchers still use the sandblasting technique to create a range of textures, resulting in complicated, nuanced images.
For crafts projects, you can achieve a similar effect using etching cream. Adhesive stencils are best, as the etching cream needs to sit for a while, and can easily seep under the edges of other types of stencils if they're accidentally nudged. It's easy to apply it to just about any glass surface (except tempered glass): Try a personalized drinkware set or a bubbly polka-dotted windowpane. The process is so easy, you may find yourself leaving a mark all around the house.
Stripes in subtle pastel shades personalize this plain glass and pitcher set. Cover each piece with masking tape, dab glass etching cream onto the exposed striations of glass, and let dry before peeling off the tape.
Having trouble finding the perfect china pattern? Make it yourself: Use stencils to create fun borders or monograms on inexpensive thrift-store finds.
Summer drinks taste even sweeter when served in beautiful monogrammed glassware.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts "Fancy Script" Alphabet Stencil Set, $9.49, michaels.com.
Put a Plate on It
Perk up plain walls by hanging plates embellished with pretty patterns, simple stripes, and favorite phrases.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts "Monogram Serif" Alphabet Stencil Set, $9.49, michaels.com.
Flower pots pop when embellished with fun florals.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart "Indigo Flowers" Adhesive Laser-Cut Stencil, $8, michaels.com.
Fun and Feminine
Make it personal with lovely letters and dainty dots added to the sides of a glass pitcher set.
Easily add a touch of nature to glass candle sleeves with these fern-inspired silkscreens.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts "Leaves" Laser-Cut Stencils, $9, michaels.com.
Dishes decorated with branches, leaves, and perched birds make a noteworthy display in your kitchen or dining room.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts "Chinoiserie" Adhesive Laser-Cut Layering Stencils, $10.49, michaels.com.
Under the Sea
Capture the elegance of painted fish and "things from the sea:" Nautical additions to cosmetic and toiletry bottles are guaranteed to make a splash in your bathroom.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart "Sea Life" Adhesive Silkscreen, $10.49, michaels.com.
Do you dig dots? Adding bright, bold color to tumblers couldn't be easier.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts Foam Pouncers Set, $7, michaels.com.
Let your creativity blossom by embellishing vases with pretty painted flowers.
It's tea time anytime when your serving set is this adorable. Stencil looped script letters on your cups and kettle for A+ style.
Bring the outdoors in—in a beautiful way—with these easy-to-make stenciled butterfly mugs.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Crafts "Butterfly" Adhesive Laser-Cut Layering Stencils, $10.49, michaels.com.
Enhance the look of container gardens by stenciling their planters with matching flowers or greenery.
Put the perfect finishing touch on colored glass jars and bottles by embellishing them with delicate doilies and other lacy accents.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart "Elegant Floral" Adhesive Laser-Cut Stencil, $8, michaels.com.
Get organized by adding by adding pretty painted labels to your kitchen canisters.
Modern Mason Jars
A bouquet of modern blossoms adorns oversize mason jars—perfect for storing craft or sewing supplies.
Ornate floral designs (and painted blue lids) liven up the exterior of this pitcher and kitchen canisters.
Bright and Beautiful
A bevy of butterflies and blossoms in warm yellow and orange hues adds extra warmth to everyday glass candle sleeves.