Glass Etching

 A few days ago, I realized that I had forgotten to order a plaque in recognition of the President of an organization that I am the Secretary/Treasurer for.  Since I only had a week until our spring meeting, I thought that it would not be enough time to order an engraved plaque.  So, I started thinking about what I could make to recognize my colleague.  After spending a couple hours thinking, I came up with an idea.

For a while now, I have been wanting to try glass etching. So, I thought this might be a technique to create something nice for my colleague that would be different than any other recognition he has received.
I checked out several tutorials on-line and decided to give it a try.

  • Glassware – 4 ounce juice glasses, glass mug, rectangular vase
  • Armour Etch Glass Etching Paste
  • Contact paper or stickers
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Painter’s tape
  • Craft sticks
  • Gloves, eyewear, apron
  • Drop Cloth
1. Clean the surface of the glass with rubbing alcohol.  Make sure to remove any finger prints because the oils in the prints will interfere with the etching process. Do not  use window cleaners because they have other chemicals that may interfere with the etching process.
2. Purchase or create a stencil for your design.  I digitized the logo from the organization and created a cutting file on my Cameo stencil cutter.
3. Place the stencil on the glassware. Use a craft stick (popsicle stick) to make sure that the edges of the stencil are firmly stuck to the glass so that the etching paste will not leak under the stencil.
4. Work over a towel or drop cloth to protect surfaces from potential acid damage. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Use protective eyewear to protect your eyes and an apron to protect your clothes. This is important because the etching paste is a strong acid that can cause burns.
5. Shake the etching paste bottle to mix the contents. Use the craft stick to apply the etching paste in a thick, even layer over the exposed glass.  Note: the manufacturer’s directions recommend a brush.  I found the suggestion for craft sticks on-line and liked the idea.  The etching paste is a strong acid that can quickly damage brushes.  Whereas, craft sticks are inexpensive and can just be thrown away rather than trying to clean the brush.
6. The etching paste does contain crystals that are part of the chemical process. These may cause a blotchy etch, so pull them onto the surface of the contact paper so that you have a smooth layer of paste in contact with the glass.
7. Allow the paste to etch for five minutes.  This is another change from the manufacturer’s directions.  The directions say that one minute is sufficient.  However, I found numerous comments that the etching time is insufficient for a good etch.
8. Two or three times during the etching process, move the paste around on the surface to remove any trapped air pockets to create a uniform etch.
9.Wash off the etching paste with hot water.  Be aware that the etching paste can remove the glaze in ceramic sinks.  So, rinse in a stainless steel or utility sink. Remove the stencil and continue to wash until all of  the paste is removed.
10. Dry and use.
For my first attempt, I used 4 ounce juice glasses that I already had in my kitchen.  I cut a snowflake stencil out of contact paper. Turned out really well, so I was ready to create the recognition item.
For the President recognition, I decided to use a vase. This vase is rectangular and measures 6″ tall, 4″ wide and 2″ deep (I masked over the name to avoid getting his permission to post this). I think this turned out really nice and will be a unique way to recognize our out-going president.

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