Sunday, February 15, 2009

Surface Etching Designs

Surface Etching Designs are block designs (rather than line drawings), where the black areas are etched and the white areas are left clear (called a positive etch). If the black areas are left clear and the white areas are etched, the etching is called a negative or reverse etch.
Etching glass can be fairly simple! One can make a variety of decorative items / pictures.

Here are the things you will need for Etching:

  • Pattern: Start with a simple design without lots of small details. Coloring book for the kids can be a wonderful source for patterns.
  • Glass Sheet: Any glass object or mirror will do. You can also use jars, drinking glasses, etc.
  • Glass Cleaner: Always start with a clean surface.
  • Contact Paper / Etching Tape: Clear or plain, white works best.
  • Carbon Paper: To trace your pattern onto the contact paper.
  • Utility Knife: To cut your pattern out of the contact paper / etching tape.
  • Etching Cream: Readily available at any local craft store, near your home.
  • Foam Brush: To apply etching cream or the spread the acid.
  • Latex Gloves: To protect your hands from etching cream / acid.

Once you have gathered all your supplies you are ready to begin!


Start out by reading the suggestions from the manufacturer of the etching cream and follow their recommendations.

  1. Wear latex gloves when working with etching cream / acid (Make sure the area you are working in is well-ventilated and the work surface is covered).
  2. Decide what piece of glass you want to etch. Etching can be done on plain glass sheets, mirrors and glasswares wine glasses, plates and platters, bowls and perfume bottles.
  3. Clean the glass surface using glass cleaner. Make sure it is dry and free of all dust.
  4. Cut a piece of contact paper at least a few inches larger than your pattern.
  5. Place the contact paper on the glass sheet very carefully and ensure that there are no air bubbles.
  6. Decide the design you want to use. Place the pattern under the glass sheet.
  7. Using a sharp utility knife cut all the details out of the contact paper.
  8. (Remember to remove pieces of the contact paper so only the sections of the glass where etching is to be done are exposed).
  9. If you are etching a mirror, you should first put a carbon paper on the etching tape, trace out the pattern and then cut out the pattern with the utility knife. (as you can not see the pattern under the mirror).
  10. Make sure that all of the edges of the remaining pieces of contact paper are stuck tightly to the glass.
  11. Put on the latex gloves. Shake the acid product thoroughly before using it.
  12. Apply it according to the instructions on the bottle, making certain to keep the acid off of areas that aren't to be etched.
  13. Use a foam brush to spread a thick layer of etching cream onto the exposed sections of your design (you can also use a paper towel).
  14. (Be certain that the application is thick enough to properly etch the design into the glass).
  15. Apply a thick layer of the etching cream to avoid leakage of the acid product and the pattern could look uneven or streaked.
  16. Set your glass in a safe spot, let the acid set on the glass item and wait for 15 minutes.
  17. Remove the etching cream by running cold water (wash under a tap) over the glass sheet.
  18. Once the cream is washed off, remove the contact paper to reveal the design.
  19. Rinse and dry the glass sheet / glassware.
  20. You are done with your etched product and it is ready for use or to give as a gift.

Tips & Warnings:

  1. Always start by reading the suggestions from the manufacturer of the etching cream and follow their recommendations.
  2. The etching tape should be the right size of the glass sheet (if you are doing etching on plain glass sheet / mirror).
  3. Do not apply the acid product if it is too runny (it may seep underneath the tape and also run onto areas of the glass that are not meant to be etched).
  4. Do not apply the acid product if it is too thick or grainy (the product may damage your glass).
  5. Be sure to apply the acid product with the appropriate type of brush as outlined within the product's instructions.

2 Expert comments:

Sanghi said...

Lovely glass craft. Good effort.. Do check my art blog and gv ur comments..:)

Varunavi said...

Loved the glass craft.there is so much to learn from ur blog.