Friday, March 21, 2008

One Man's Trash is My Treasure: A Tutorial for Etching Glass

Oh my goodness. I am so excited and proud of my latest project!

Some day this week was junk pick-up day in the city (I was told it was Monday, but trash stayed out on the curb in some places until Wednesday). I'm always eyeballing the curbs when this happens, just hoping for some lost treasure... and this time I found it! Driving home from work on Tuesday, I spotted an old white window pane sitting by the road. I quickly turned around, pulled up in the driveway of the house (this is during rush hour, mind you, and in the rain, and in my good work clothes), threw it in the car, and squealed out.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I decided on this design:

And set to work getting it etched into my new glass.

I have made a quick rundown of the steps involved, in case anybody else wants to try it.

How To Create Your Own Glass Etching Design

1. Find some glass that you'd like to etch.

2. Find a design (or you could freehand the drawing, in which case you'd be a lot more artistic than myself).

3. Buy white Contact brand paper and some glass etching cream (I got mine from Michael's, I'm sure most craft stores carry it).

3a. Almost croak when the cashier rings up your total because you didn't look at how ridiculously expensive the etching cream is.

4. Load your design into Photoshop (or a similar program... your best bet is actually one that has a poster printing option, as I'll explain in step 5) and change the dimensions of it to match the size you want it on the glass.

5. This gets tricky. I cropped and printed small sections of the design one at a time and then taped them together because Photoshop doesn't have a poster setting.

6. Tape the printed design to the back of the contact paper and trace it onto the contact paper.

7. Since I was doing a window, I measured each pane and the width of the pieces between the panes and drew it out on top of the traced design. I cut out all of the places where it wasn't going to be glass.

8. Apply the contact paper to the glass and trace over every line with a razor blade. The parts you peel off will be the parts that are etched. Clean the exposed parts with Windex so the cream will have a good clean surface to adhere to. Here is my window all cut out and ready to etch:

9. Put on a mask over your nose and mouth, long sleeves, pants, cleaning gloves, and safety glasses. Lock your pets and husband in another room. This stuff is no joke.

10. Apply to glass according to the directions on the bottle. Mine only had to sit for 5 minutes.

11. Because of the scale of mine, I wiped the cream off with damp paper towels until it was all gone.

12. Peel off Contact paper and appreciate your new one-of-a-kind work of art!


  1. That came out really well! Where will you hang it? (BTW, came by surfing the "craft" tags :))

  2. STACE. this is stinkin' AWESOME!!!!!!!!

  3. Thank you!!!! I am SO PROUD of it! :)

    I think I'm going to hang it over the dining room table... we are trying to figure out *how* to hang it... any suggestions?

  4. That's very pretty!!! You're looking for a way to hang your window? I was at Derek's aunt's house the other day & she had a little window (sort of like yours, but not nearly so pretty) that she had hung from the ceiling about a foot or so in front of the actual window in her guest room. Hers looks like it was smaller than yours. It looked cute. I don't know how heavy yours is & if that would work, but it's an idea. :)

  5. I was looking for some craft & sewing ideas and found your blog. You did a great job. It looks great. Good Luck with future crafts.

  6. I'm so envious! I love finding free treasures, too. And that pattern is so beautiful. Love it, love it, love it!

  7. I am SO proud! and very inspired. Nice find. what are you going to do with it?

  8. Beautiful! You have inspired me. I have always wanted to do that.

  9. Wow, that is so cool! I'm not sure I'd have the patience for all those steps though, but maybe I could start small...

  10. Thank you, girls!!

    It was definitely a very tedious project... if you wanted to try it but don't have much patience a more simple design would still look great.

    I hope to figure out a way to hang it soon and get it hung in the dining room over the dining table. The sun shines in the windows in there and will really show off the etching. :)

    I just love how it is shabby and elegant at the same time! I am so shamelessly proud of it!! *giggle*

  11. Oh my goodness...I'm super jealous! That looks awesome. Very good job. I'll have to try it sometime soon!