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Glass, Knives, and Caustic Cream: Fun with Glass Etching

December 20, 2009

What could be more fun than playing with glass, knives, and caustic etching cream while your kid is napping? Not many come to mind.

When in doubt, always etch some glass and give as a gift. Not only do you get to customize a kickass design on a pint glass, but it’s not that hard to make. You will wow your gift recipients and all who gaze upon your amazing creation. People will not believe you made that. Get ready to have your feathers ruffled. Don’t forget to wear loose clothing as you puff up with pride!

There are many techniques for etching, but this is how I like to do my etching. It goes quickly, and I can be done start to finish in an hour or less. Now that I have “invested” the $10 for the etching cream, the only cost of the gift is for the item I etch.

Mama See, Mama Etch

Supplies List

  • Pint glasses, bar glasses, wine glasses, anything glass. I get mine at either Total Wine and More (I guess this is the “and more” part of it, harharhar), BigBox Stores, thrift stores, garage sales, things I got as a wedding gift, or blank pint glasses I already have.
  • Clear Contact Paper
  • A new blade on an X-acto or craft knife. Fresh blades make it super easy!
  • Your design you want to etch, treated into a stencil if needed, printed out on paper and sized to fit your area
  • A little piece of painter’s tape
  • A paintbrush
  • Armour Etching Cream (get the little bottle for $10 or under and you can reuse it!)
  • a sink with hot running water
  • rubber dish gloves or latex gloves
  • isopropyl alcohol and cotton balls/tissue/cloth

1. Think of the person you want to give the glasses to–what are his or her interests? Favorite sports team logos, bands, hobbies, initials, silhouettes, monograms, and shapes with bold, clean lines are all easy to do. Another fabulous resource to peruse a huge, free selection of letters and designs is www.dafont.com. I really like the Dingbats, especially Nature dingbats. I have used lots of fun fonts for initials as well. It is very easy to install a font on  your computer. I hope you have before; if not, stop what you are doing and find some fonts you love. Learn how to install for Windows and for Mac; then come on back. If you really want to wow them, obtain a picture of a special tattoo that’s on his or her body! For a challenge, try turning someone’s face into a stencil and using this image to etch a beloved’s face on a pint glass. Now do you see why people go so wild? They’re the most kickass gift ever.

2. Print out your image and cut away the extra white space, leaving a little buffer zone.

3. Clean the surface you want to etch with rubbing alcohol and your cloth/cotton ball.

4. Cut out a square of contact paper that is a tad bigger than your design.

5. Peel off the backing from the contact paper.

6. Place the sticky side down on the outside of the glass where you want your design to appear, and smooth out any bubbles.

7. Tape your design to the inside of the glass, so that you can see it through the contact paper and glass. Note how I made the H a little too big, so I just used it as a design guide.

8. Take the X-acto knife and carve out the negative spaces. Use the tip of the knife to pull away any sections that you need to remove. I usually put these in one sticky ball that grows until I’m done. Be sure to sit with good posture in a chair so you don’t get cramped up. You might want to take breaks, too. This is why I recommend simple shapes for beginners, although you can try any design as long as you have patience with yourself and don’t try to rush things.

**Be sure you use knife safety and know how to treat cuts.**

9. Put on the gloves. Using the paintbrush, thickly apply the etching cream into the areas that you cut out. Remember, any contact with etching cream, and the glass WILL etch. Likewise, your face will etch, too. Please don’t go picking your nose or fishing out a wedgie, because I would hate to see those results.

10. Rinse out your paintbrush in hot water. Rinse any remaining cream out of the sink, and take off the gloves. Let the cream remain on the glasses for 30 minutes or so. In an ideal world, this is when you could sip your coffee and either read or catch up on TV shows. Ha.

11. Put the gloves back on. You can either a. rinse off etching cream in hot water, or b. scrape the etching cream back into the bottle to be reused. It’s your call. When you are sure all the cream is gone and cleaned up, you can take off your gloves. Dry off the glasses and peel back the contact paper. Admire your work!

L to R: Umphrey's McGee podcast logo, Steal Your Face Grateful Dead logo, Phish Farmhouse logo, Mets logo

Dottie etched her dad!

Carissa etched a zillion awesome designs: silhouettes ohm symbol, and other awesome designs!

If you are interested in a customized silhouette of your children for gifts, Cory at Yes’m Creative will help you out!

You can do custom items for any occasion. I made decorative champagne flutes with an H on them for my wedding.

Notes about your finished product
Take pride in your work. Do not let perfectionism get in the way. No one will scrutinize your mistakes and reject your gift because one spot is smudged or something. And for Mama’s sake, don’t berate your work as soon as someone opens the gift. Don’t go pointing out the mistakes!

Be sure to not sell any work with logos that don’t belong to you…this is all for personal use!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2009 10:15 pm

    Oh cool. Now I have to do this too! This would be a very cool idea for a gift! Thanks for showing how to do this!

  2. December 20, 2009 10:18 pm

    Oh yeah, and thanks for reminding about the fonts. I think you just also doubled or tripled my ideas for quilting applique and/or photoshop brushes. Whoo Hoo!

    • December 20, 2009 10:30 pm

      Feel free to share them, or come back here and put a link to what you’ve made! I’d love to check it out.

  3. December 21, 2009 3:18 pm

    I love it!! 🙂

    I think I will have to do this for Father’s Day this year.

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