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Glass Etching: It's Easier than You Think

Why? Because you can use a cream to etch -- no heavy-duty tools required!

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Photography by: Aaron Dyer

Supplies

Glass vases
Masking tape
Latex gloves
Etching cream
Paintbrush

Sources

Glass etching cream and brush, by Martha Stewart Crafts, $30 for 6 oz., michaels.com
Glass vases, from $3 each, jamaligarden.com

Process

When you embellish plain glass vases with stylish patterns, you’ll want to display more than flowers in them. Start with vessel sizes that accommodate sticky notes, pencils, and anything else you’d like to round up. Apply masking tape of varying widths on the portions of the glass you don’t want frosted (make sure to smooth down air bubbles completely for even etching). Next, working in a well-ventilated area and wearing latex gloves, brush on a thick, even coat of etching cream. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then rinse it off under cool running water; wipe dry with a paper towel. Now remove the tape to reveal your design -- and start organizing.

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Photography by: Bryan Gardner
Brush the cream in multiple directions, stripe by stripe, for an even finish.
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Looking for a unique way to organize your kitchen countertop staples? Customize glass containers by easily etching labels for staples like coffee, flour, and sugar. Be sure to cover work surfaces, protect your hands with rubber gloves, and work in a well-ventilated area when working with etching cream. Vinyl stick-on letters let you acheive accuracy.

 

Make the Etched Glass Storage Jars
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Photography by: Mike Krautter

Looking for serving supplies that will get your guests chattering? Try making an etched-glass drink dispenser to hold your famous party punch or the evening's signitaure drink (also good for dispensing water at muggy-day cookouts or sporting events). A stencil and stencil tape help get the job done easily and mess-free. The etching cream sits for just 20 minutes before it needs to be washed off, so it's a perfect last-minute project to punch up your party spread. 

 

What other glass items can you think of to etch? Some ideas that come to mind are:

  • Fish tanks
  • Champagne flutes (makes a great gift!)
  • Pitchers
  • Lamp bases
  • Candlesticks
  • Terarriums
  • Perfume bottles
  • Serving bowls
  • Mirrors

 

What other glass products can you think of to etch?

 

Make the Etched Drink Dispenser

Some Rules of Thumb for Glass Etching

 

Make sure to scrub the glass surface with soap and water, then wipe it with rubbing alcohol to remove any residue from the glass.

 

 

Want to make your own stencil? Draw your design or print a template on printer paper, then place the printer paper over a sheet of contact paper and use a craft knife to cut out the pattern, slicing through both layers of paper.

 

 

Place adhesive or contact paper stencils, or vinyl stick-on letters, where you want your design to appear on the glass surface, then use a bone folder to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles.

Line the edges of your stencil with painter's tape and cover any areas you don’t want etched.

Use a paintbrush to dab a thick, even layer of etching cream onto the stencil cutouts. (Remember to wear gloves for this step.) Brush the cream in two directions to prevent brushstrokes on the finished project. Let the cream sit on the glass for about 15 minutes, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Under running water, rinse off the cream; then remove the stencils and tape. Wash the piece with soap and water before using it.

 

All You Need to Know About Glass Etching Is Right Here