The days are quickly dwindling away as we approach gift-giving season. Over the last couple of years, I have resorted to handmade items, as many people have, due to the cost of buying gifts for everyone. It is almost impossible financially for us to buy for everyone in our family, but we always love to be able to give a little bit of something.
This year I decided to tackle a project I have wanted to learn for quite some time now. Not long ago I came across the etched champagne flutes from our wedding and it made me want to learn the etching process.
Last week I started preparing for our family Christmas by making a list of everyone that we would like to have a gift for; the list is long, trust me. I knew too, that I wanted individualize etched gifts for everyone to enjoy throughout this next year.
– etching cream (can be found at craft stores or online)
– glass ware to etch
– vinyl sheets (can be found at craft stores) or contact paper
– xacto knife
– popsicle sticks
– rubbing alcohol
Just so you know, I did not follow the exact directions to create the perfect etched project. Instead I etched my heart out until I weeded out all the dos and don’ts to share with my readers.
To start you need to clean the entire glass piece very well using rubbing alcohol. Avoid using glass cleaners as they will leave an invisible film that can hinder the outcome of etching. Next, figure out what you will be etching into the glass.
Remember, the etching will take place in the negative space in whatever design you create. This goes for words as well.
If you want to etch letters, use the outside paper from around the letter stickers and adhere it to the surface to be etched. Make sure there are no bubbles which will prevent the etching cream from bleeding underneath the sticker. If you want to etch the space around letters while leaving the letters as regular glass, place the letter stickers on the surface; however, I do not recommend doing very large areas at once using this cream.
The easiest way I found to etch a design, without the use of a silhouette machine or Cricut, was to print the design off in black ink, lay contact paper right over it, and trace the design onto to contact paper. Once I had the design completely traced, I used my xacto knife and cut away the areas I wanted etched into the glass and then slowly laid the contact paper onto the glass.
Once you have the letters or design smoothed out onto the glass, grab a popsicle stick and the etching cream. Before opening the cream shake the bottle very well.
Then shake the bottle some more, and even one last time to make your arm goes numb! Seriously, shake the bottle as long as possible as this will cut down on the air pockets and crystals in the etching cream and help create a flawless finish.
When everything is placed on the glass, apply a thick layer of etching cream to the areas to be etched. Using a popsicle stick makes this quite a bit easier than a paintbrush, which is what the directions state to use.
The directions on the bottle also said to only let it sit for one minute, however I found that this was not enough time for a deep etch. I tested different jars at different times and found that five minutes is the magic number for obtaining a perfectly even design.
After, two and a half minutes you will need to use the popsicle stick and swirl the cream around while making sure all of the area stays coated well. This allows any air pockets or crystals to move around instead of settling and interrupting the process. If you do not swirl the cream at the halfway point then you won’t have an even design.
Circles will show up where the air pockets are; which is obviously not a desired finish. I found that leaving the cream on longer did not provide any different of a result.
Once the five minutes are up, wash the etching cream off using warm water and soap, peel the sticker, paper, or vinyl off and dry very well. You have now etched your glass.
The ideas are endless for this project. Etching cream may also be used on “glossy” or “glazed” tiles. The process is the same, but if you use tiles then add some felt to the bottom and use them as coasters. Etch your last name on the bottom of your casserole dish so it never is misplaced, etch initials into glasses, or quotes onto mirrors.
As always, the possibilities are as large as your imagination!
*Before starting this project, please take all safety precautions including wearing gloves.
April Sherrill is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.