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Glass Etching

Have you ever done any glass etching?
Well, neither had I before today.
But wow.  Such an easy, yet sweet little touch that you can add to any glass.
Check out my new and improved etched Trifle Bowl.
The perfect bowl for desserts of all kinds…..and even a great place for fresh fruit on the counter.  And I kind of adore that little bird perched on the branch.
Glass etching is also a great way to stamp your name on your pyrex dishes, to make sure they come back to you.
And how about adding a little extra detail, just because……
(Edited to Add: The font used here is called Smiley Monster and I downloaded the font for free here.)
Sweet in every way.

Are you wanting to make your own? 

(This technique permanently etches your glass.  You cannot remove it once you’re done.  With that said, your creation will not rub or wash off, and will stay put as long as the dish lasts.)

First, you’ll need a piece of vinyl with an adhesive back, like the vinyl you buy for vinyl wall decor.  You can buy rolls or sheets of it at craft stores (if you must have some today) or you can buy some great vinyl much cheaper from one of my sponsors, Expressions Vinyl.   If you don’t have a craft cutter of some sort to cut the image for you (like I did), then you can trace an image, shape, or letters on the vinyl and then cut it out with an exacto knife, or utility knife.  (And I haven’t tried this but I think you may be able to do the glass etching technique with a piece of contact paper, if you’re going to be cutting out your shapes free hand with an exacto knife.)
Then peel away the shapes, leaving the negative space all in one piece.  (Keep in mind if you are using an exacto knife, to not cut through the negative space.  Cut away the shapes/letters, but leave the main piece together, without cuts or tears in it.
The Silhouette code for the bird/branch is: bird_on_branch_C00044_23067 01/18/2010
Then place a piece of transfer paper (you could use contact paper for this too I’m guessing…) that is sticky on one side, to the front of your vinyl.
Then peel the vinyl backing away.  (The red side that you see below is the sticky side.)
Then place your vinyl against your glass, making sure to center the image just where you’d like it.  Press down firmly, then pull off the transfer paper/contact paper.
See how there are air bubbles?  Press those down firmly with your fingers.  If they are far from the opening of your image, don’t worry about them.  You just don’t want the etching cream to get in under the edges and mess up the image.
Then apply a layer of your etching cream on the exposed glass.  (I found this cream at Michael’s.)  Follow the instructions on the bottle and allow the cream to sit and rough up the glass surface.  (I left mine to sit for about 10 minutes.)
**Again, this process makes the etching permanent.  The cream is an acid, and etches away at the surface of your glass…….transforming the look of your glass permanently.  So you cannot rub or wash the etching off.
Then I rinsed off really well with water and used my fingers to rub it all off.  Then I peeled back the vinyl and rinsed again with soap and water.
Dry your glass and admire the beautiful etching, all done for you by the cream.
(Edited to Add: The font used here is called Smiley Monster and I downloaded the font for free here.)
Good luck!
 Such a great technique, right?
And just think…….you could put together some pyrex dishes for a newly married couple, etched with their new last name.  Then throw in some hot pads, cooking utensils, and your favorite recipes.  Perfect gift.
. . . . .
  Now that you can dress up the glass in your home, you might enjoy these projects and show off your new skills!
paint old chandelier-2
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Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. IVSATIN says:

    Did you see this? The world's first silkscreen etching with paste on glass! Bу the company “IVSATIN”

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  3. Shambray says:

    I would love to use this as part of a roundup I am putting together. I would use a small picture as part of a collage and then a link to this post. Please let me know if this is something you would like me to do. Thanks a million!

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      Sure! As long as there’s a link to this post that would be great. Thanks so much!

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      Thanks so much! I just published it!

  4. Cricket Wood says:

    Can stencils be reused? I have a set smooth clear dishes & glasses service for 16. Would like to do the 32 glasses for the 4th of July, & the dinner & salad plates for Thanksgiving.

  5. Renee says:

    Can these go in the dishwasher or do they have to be washed by hand?

  6. Heidi says:

    Just wondering, can the stencil be used more than once, or will the acid damage it?

  7. Dan says:

    Have you had success using that brand “armour etch cream” on pyrex?? Because I was just about to order some on amazon and than I read on the product description: “Will NOT etch Pyrex”

  8. Nina Gagnon says:

    I just wanted to comment on here because I saw this blog post over a year ago and thought this would be really fun to try out. Well, now I have my own little business on etsy all because of this post. I don’t make a huge amount of money but it helps pay the utilities and gives me something to do during my days with my year old son. This one post has helped change my life in a very amazing and positive way and I thought you might want to know. Thank you again for this great tutorial :)

  9. Nicki Z. says:

    Hi….just wondering, can you still use the item in the dishwasher or oven and the etching stays in it’s original form? Thanks!

  10. Laurel says:

    I have etched glass canisters that turned out perfectly, but I’ve tried two Pyrex dishes that did not etch at all. I checked the Armour website and saw that it will not work on Pyrex. How did yours turn out so well?

  11. nikki says:

    I was wondering if this would work to cover something that is engraved? Like names..small script

  12. Lindsey Mandrick says:

    Hey I was wondering if you could make the stencil for me? I want it to be “neat” for Christmas presents. I would need a couple, and can you reuse a stencil or do you need to use a different one each time? Please please please look me up on Facebook by my name or email – thank you!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Hey don’t wash the “cream” off with your fingers, it’s HF. I used latex gloves. This type of acid will eat glass but nothing that is plastic – and it is not recommended to come into contact with your skin.

  14. Patsy says:

    Is a mirror etched the same way as glass?

  15. Hannah says:

    I have included your great etching tutorial in my 10 Great and Quick Hostess Gifts for Thanksgiving or Hanukkah blog post: All the best, Hannah

  16. mandy says:

    Hi I was wondering how much would it be to make a stencil of the chicago blackhawks Indian head and the Carolina gamecocks it is with a c with the bird in the middle. Let me know they are for beer glasses.Thanks

  17. Andrea says:

    Hi….I was wondering whether anyone knew of a place where I can get vinyl stencils made? I am wanting just a small stencil (to fit a glass) multipled 16 times (for 16 glasses)….it could probably all fit on one vinyl sheet.

  18. Tammy M says:

    I have problems with cutting vinyl on my Cricut, I’m thinking my blade needs to be replaced. Do you use a special blade to cut the vinyl by machine? If so, where do you purchase them from? I live in a small town and purchase most of my craft supplies on-line! Love the trifle bowl – what a great gift idea!!

    1. Shannon says:

      i see this was a long time ago – but to cut viinyl with your cricut – use the same blade, but every is on “3”, blade, pressure etc. Good luck!

  19. emirates palace logo says:

    I know that doing an etched glass is a brilliant idea actually I wanna try it soon. it seems doing this craft really enjoyable.

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  22. Brandy says:

    Can the contact paper be reused?

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  26. Kirsten says:

    I know there are a TON of comments here and this might not get seen much – but a serious word of caution when using etching cream like this. It contains Hydrofluoric Acid (HFl) and is a lipid soluble (i.e. your skin!) acid – if it gets on your skin it can actually cause deep but painless burns which can interfere with blood calcium levels and cause cardiac problems – not good! Please use appropriate safety gear such a dishwashing gloves (or appropriate acid resistant gloves) and even better, safety goggles! We do this activity with 5th graders every year but they are highly supervised. So it’s totally a doable project but please use appropriate caution.

  27. Amy Cederquist says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know I noticed a website/business that has stolen your photos used here and is using them as your own. I recognized them as one I’ve seen on pinterest before and followed your link here. I am contacting their web host under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to have the 27 photos of mine removed. I’m not sure if you mind or not, but I though I would pass along the info.

  28. Sandra says:

    This is fantastic- I can’t wait to run to JoAnne’s Fabric and grab that Armour Etch! Thanks for sharing, this is so much easier than I expected.

  29. Sheridan says:

    We are wanting to sandblast wine glasses – just gathering necessary equipment for cutting vinyl templates. I’ve read all these posts for an appropriate die cutter – that is all I’d use the machine for, so only want to spend the least for good quality. I looked at the Top10 review website and reviews on all mentioned…..NONE under $300 have all great reviews! It sounds like I’m gambling with the purchase; the same die cutter can be a 5-star and several will be a 1-star. SUGGESTIONS please!! Thank you!!

  30. Rikki H says:

    We want to do this for a group craft, how much of the etching cream would we need for about 50 pans? Just a last name on each.

  31. Rikki H says:

    We are wanting to do this as a church project and I was just wondering how much of the etching cream we would need to do about 40 pans with a last name?

  32. Debra says:

    Hello! I am familiar with the armour etching cream am use my Cricut to stencil.. Has someone placed glass items at baked in oven after etching? I have done several projects for decorative use.. But want confirmation it is okay for oven use after etching. Thanks in advance !

  33. Tried&Twisted says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration! I just tried this out on two different projects and posted about it on my blog. I mentioned you too!
    Thank you!

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  35. Dawn says:

    I tried to etch on a baking dish from Ikea and it didn’t work. I even left it on for 30 minutes. I was so disappointed.

  36. Jenny says:

    Love the tutorial! Two questions – please?
    1) what type vinyl do I order from ? Indoor?
    2) Is it possible to reuse the template on more than one piece?

    Thank you SO much for sharing your creative ideas!

  37. Alex says:

    I tried this cream but…there were a lot of smudges and etching was irregular. I made all well. Stencils was good. Results was bad:( even on small surface.

  38. Autumn says:

    Is the vinyl reusable? I’m planning on etching wine bottles for a wedding project. and I was wondering if I could reuse the one piece of vinyl or if I had to make separate templates for each one.

  39. Karri says:

    I really love this idea and I am trying to etch on a pint glass. Is anyone else having the problem that once rinsing the cream off the “frosted” look is not as white as your pictures show? I have tried leaving it on longer, and repeating the process and it is still barely visible. Anyone have any tips? Thanks!

  40. Patricia says:

    Can the stencil be re-used?

  41. Kirsten says:

    I have etched many items (including Pyrex) using contact paper and stencils and also a method with rubber stamps and embossing powder which creates a smooth glass design and an etched background. I wanted to share a money saving tip. Before rinsing off the etching cream use a foam brush or popsicle stick to scrape off as much of the etching cream as possible and return it to your Etching cream container. It can be reused over and over again. I am still using my small bottle purchased at least 8 years ago. Be careful not to spread the cream outside of your design when removing the extra cream. Even a couple of seconds on the glass will start the etching process.

    1. Patricia says:

      Can you share directions on how to etch glass with a rubber stamp and embossing powder?

    2. Kirsten says:

      Sure. If you are familiar with powder embossing on paper this will be much too detailed. Basically stamp and emboss on the glass just like you do on paper and then paint the etching cream over it. In case more details are needed I have listed step-by-step instructions below.

      You will need rubber stamp of choice, embossing ink, and embossing powder (detail, not ultra thick), embossing gun and, of course, etching supplies. Ink your stamp and apply on glass where you would like design to be placed. Cover with embossing powder and shake off excess. Melt the embossing powder using an embossing gun. If you’re happy with the result you can move on to the etching step. If you are not pleased with the embossing simply scrape it away, clean glass, and start again. Nothing is permanent until the etching cream goes on. I have found that finely detailed stamps to not produce the best results because the melting of the embossing powder often makes the details run together.

      For etching I simply freehand the etching cream over and around the stamped / embossed image making sure it is thickly covered. If you wish to have a defined shape you can use a square of contact paper with the desired shape cut out of the center. Adhere that to your glass with the embossed design centered in the cut-out shape. Make sure the inside edges of the contact paper are pressed down tightly so that no etching cream seeps underneath. Apply the etching cream inside the cut-out over and around the stamped / embossed image. After waiting the time given for the etching cream use a foam brush to remove etching cream and return to jar. Rinse remaing etching cream off glass and rub away the embossed powder under running water. Remove contact paper if it was used.

      I love how this method produces a relief look which is different from most etching. It opens up a world of options that require no time consuming cutting, allows me to coordinate gift with card, wrapping, decorations, etc. and gives me an excuse to add to my stash of stamps. :-D

  42. nariyana risi says:

    That’s a very nice inspiration

  43. Anonymous says:

    Oh very Lovely .

  44. Haley says:

    Hello! I was wondering why you have to use the transfer paper on top of the vinyl? I feel this is a dumb question… Lol

  45. Lauren @ The Thinking Closet says:

    Of course, this nifty project also made my Silhouette Inspiration board:

    I have so many glass casserole dishes just waiting to be etched! And what a great wedding gift this would make. Thanks for sharing this fun tute.

  46. Lauren says:

    Tried to etch Pyrex baking dish. Didn’t work! Any tricks? Ideas?. Advice?

  47. araceli says:

    hi i like it ,but where can i buy the cream ???

  48. Carey says:

    I just spent three hours tracing, cutting and applying the etching cream (Armor Etch). The cream has been on my Pyrex 9×13 dishes for TWO HOURS and nothing! I’m so bummed.

    I’ve seen many people who said it worked on their Pyrex, what went wrong?


  49. Jolene Brighten says:

    This is such a simple and straight forward tutorial. I also like the design you chose. Thanks for sharing this. I can’t wait to give it a try.

  50. Liz says:

    Do I need to buy removable vinyl?

  51. Taylor says:


    Did you use the crikut to make this stencil? If so, do you mind telling me which cartridge this was off of?

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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