DIY Friday: Etched Glass, The Glassbender Way

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Not sure about the rest of you, but I find etched glass to be pretty awesome. It’s subtle, looks pretty, and can make a glass item look more expensive. Of course, I especially love glass wear with geeky designs etched into them.

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What you might not realize, is that you can totally do it yourself!

Supplies Needed:

  • Glass
  • Armor Etch (Michael’s)
  • Printed Design
  • Razor
  • Chopstick
  • Masking Tape
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Sticker Paper (optional)

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Etching glass might seem like a daunting project, but it’s much easier than you think, and not that expensive! It mainly just requires time and patience.

99 Cent stores carry nice solid, sturdy glass wear, and that’s where I always pick up my glasses for these projects. Your two essential costs are the glass, and the Armor Etch, which is the goop that actually etches your glass for you. While you can find glasses for $1, even a small bottle of Armor Etch will run you about $10.

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Once you’ve got you glass and your Armor Etch, the next essential piece is your design! If you’re not that adept at using a razor to cut out designs, you’ll want to start with simpler designs before moving onto more intricate ones. I had my boyfriend cut out these Avatar: The Last Airbender designs because he’s far more skilled with a razor than I am!

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While you can just print out your design, cut it out and attach it to your glass with some masking tape, I would highly recommend printing out your design onto sticker paper. The main concern with using Armor Etch is that you CANNOT let it come in contact with the glass other than where you want it to etch. So you must be sure your cut-out stencil is completely adhered to the glass, and using sticker paper is your best bet to make sure the Armor Etch doesn’t ooze in under the stencil.

Make sure to rub down your glass with some rubbing alcohol before attaching your design to it. The oils from your skin will cause the Armor Etch to not etch as well as it should, which is why it’s ideal to wear gloves for this project, and remove your skin oil from the glass with the rubbing alcohol. It’s also strongly recommended to wear gloves in general, as prolonged contact with Armor Etch on your skin can cause possible chemical burns.

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Once you’ve attached your design to your glass (use the back of your fingernail to really make sure the stencil is adhered to the glass), cover the rest of the glass to ensure any accidental drops of Armor Etch don’t start etching your glass in the wrong places. I taped on some junk mail paper to shield the glass.

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Now it’s time to glop on the Armor Etch! The key is to glop it on, not brush it on. Also, make sure you thoroughly stir it before application. I used a chopstick to glop on the Armor Etch, as you don’t really need a more advanced tool than that. Make sure your design is properly covered with a good helping of Armor Etch, and let it sit.

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Armor Etch only needs about 5 minutes to work its magic, though it doesn’t hurt any to let it sit on longer. Then it’s time to wash it off. This is when having your glass covered is important – as even washed off Armor Etch can start to etch your glass in the wrong place if left in contact with the glass for too long.

Use your hands to rub off the Armor Etch and the sticker paper – you don’t have to worry about wearing gloves here as the water is diluting the chemical. The sticker paper dissolves pretty easily in water, and you can use some rubbing alcohol to get off any sticky bits that don’t wash off. Wash the glass and your hands thoroughly to make sure all traces of the Armor Etch are gone.

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And now you have yourself a beautiful etched piece of glass! Or 4, in this case.

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We hope you found this DIY useful, and we’d love to see any results if you decide to try your hand at etching some glass! Share your results, opinions on this DIY, and any other geek chic/DIY related things with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

4 comments on “DIY Friday: Etched Glass, The Glassbender Way

  1. I have etched mirrors using much the same technique. Small geek worthy gifts have included a compact mirror with a small serenity logo (for the Firefly lover in my life) and a set of six framed mirrors etched with designs from the book series Wheel of Time for that another fanatic. I also etched two round mirrors with the Alliance/Imperial logos for a framing project for a friend. I don’t know how she did it, but she used a color rub afterwards to color the etched portions of the mirrors. Those looked really neat.

    • Scruffy says:

      I’ve etched glasses and ornaments before, but never even thought about doing mirrors! Definitely going to have to give that a try in the future. Would love to see any images of your geeky glass etch work if you have any!

  2. minavilly says:

    Water from a Water Tribe glass, how ingenious!

  3. […] we have our own tutorial for etched glassware, it was fantastic to see Good Guy Comics had a very large selection of geeky glasses and shot […]

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