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How to Etch Glasses: A Simple DIY You Can Slay!

A few weeks ago I signed up for a class at Brooklyn Brainery, which is one of my absolute favorite places in Brooklyn! Seriously. It's a cute little mecca for crafters and creators alike. It offers classes for on all sorts of amazing things like sushi making classes and photography lessons which help you to learn to operate your DSLR camera. The course range also expands to cover more obscure interests such as discovering the history of gin making and/or taking up tarot card reading. It's almost impossible to scroll through their class list and not find something you want to learn or a topic that you never thought about but find intriguing.

So sure enough, that was me, browsing through their course list looking for something to spark my interest. And without fail, I was not left disappointed because I came across an etching class that I had seen and missed before because was too slow to book. This time it was almost maxed out, and with only two seats left I was certainly not going to let indecision rob me again of learning how to enhance my wine drinking experience with an awesome DIY! So I immediately texted one of my favorite crafting buds, Hil, who is always game. Together we secured our spots and marked our calendars. We were in and I was oh-so-excited because there is nothing I love more than a functional DIY! Plus, with all the stress at work lately, I could use a savory glass of wine. This was a solid win/win!

So that Sunday, after meeting our fearless crafting leader, Ms. AV (follow her @avdoeswhat on Instagram to see all her amazing DIY creations). She talked us through the process, which seemed almost too easy to be true. After giving us a quick overview of how to do it, she sent us on our merri crafting way.

Her confidence and ease was reassuring. And luckily she didn't steer us wrong. This did up being literally one of the easiest projects I have ever made. Seriously. It's so simple that I plan to do a lot more etching this year so heads up everyone, you can expect some sort of Christmas gift that has been etched by yours truly! :)

Here's the supplies you will need:

  • Wine or scotch glasses (Ikea has them cheap!)

  • Cutting board (ideally self healing)

  • Exacto knife or razor

  • Contact paper

  • Design printed on regular paper

  • tape

  • foam decoupage paint brush

  • etching cream

Here's the simple process step-by-step so that you too can create wine glass masterpieces:

Step 1: Pick a design.

Keep it simple if you are a beginner. You are going to be creating a template yourself so cutting it will be challenging the more intricate it is. With that being said, you may not want to make it too simple. Don't play it so safe that it will be boring and uninteresting to the eye.

To be honest, I definitely didn't push myself as far as I could design-wise on my first one. Although I like my creations because they both have sentimental significance, I think I would have ended up loving them if I had challenged myself to do a little bit more intricate of a design. (Don't fret though! I will bring it on those Christmas gifts for sure! Always gotta up my game!)

Remember when picking a design, what ever is black will be what ends up being etched into the glass. Whatever is white, will remain the translucent part of the glass. If you plan to do words, they have to be printed backwards or "mirror style" that way when you etch them they will read the right way on the final product.

And this whole creating a template yourself thing, can ultimately be replaced by a cutting machine if you are lucky enough to own a Cricut or what not. But since it is our first one, we will go the extra mile and DIY the stencil too cause who doesn't love a major DIY?

Step 2: Tape your design to your contact paper.

Contact paper will essentially become the stencil you use when etching later on. So you tape the paper, with your design on it, firmly to the top of the contact paper. Make sure you are not taping to the super slippery side that you will eventually peel off because if you do, whatever design you are doing will be flipped. That could be cool in some situations, but disastrous in others.

Feel free to use more tape than you think is necessary because the firmer the grip of the design to the contact paper when you are cutting, the less likely you will slip and mis-cut. Also you will be able to control the contact paper more when using the Exacto knife to cut out your template.

Step 3: Cut out your stencil with the razor.

Hold your Exacto knife like a pencil and always cut on a cutting board. Those self-healing cutting boards are ideal and can easily be purchased at any crafting store and used over and over again.

Don't squeeze too hard that your fingers turn white. You don't need that much pressure and you don't want to accidentally slip and cut your own fingers. A firm press is good enough.

When cutting out your design using a razor, remember it is easier to move the contact paper and design, rather than the knife. Curves are harder to cut than straight aways. And you want to ensure that if you need to make extra cuts, it's into the black part of the design not the white part. The white part will be your stencil so ideally those edges are perfect and there are no extra slices or tears that the etching cream will be able to wiggle it's way into.

Step 4: Peel and stick your stencil on your glass.

After you have finished cutting out the design and popped it out of the middle, you should have a piece of contact paper that has a whole the shape of what your design was.

That paper is now your stencil. You will want to remove any paper that was taped on to it so that the top of the contact paper is now smooth and printer paper and tape free.

Then next you will peel off the back of it so that you just have the clear contact paper stencil.

Place it onto the outside of the glass in the way that you think it will look best. Don't worry about getting it exactly right the first time. It's easy to peel back up and place back down if you aren't over-the-moon with the first placement.

Once you have it located where you want it to be. Smooth down all the edges of the design so that there are no air bubbles whatsoever. Any air bubbles will be problematic when you go to etch it because they will create opportunities for the paste to seep in and rob you of your smooth edge. The crisp edge is what makes the design quickly distinguishable and look professionally made.

Step 5: Brush on etching paste

Now, you will brush on the etching paste into the middle of the template. You will want to keep brushing back and forth to ensure that there is a smooth even finish over the whole cut out. You'll want to do this for a minimum of 5 minutes. That will ensure that you really cover all the surface well and evenly.

I found that the paste does tend to get absorbed the more you work it in, so reapply generously. You want it to be the thickness of frosting, ideally.

Also, just know that any glass surface the paste touches, it will get etched. So stay only within the area of the template that you want to be etched and make sure to keep your phones far away as possible on this one else you might accidentally etch your touch screens!

Step 6: Let sit for 10 minutes

After you have rubbed it in for about 5 minutes, let it rest and work its magic. 10 minutes should be sufficient. If you are a little paranoid, you can't let it sit longer just to ensure it has worked.

As you watch chill you will notice that the cream does continue to absorb into the glass, which is completely normal. So what starts off as a thick coat of frosting may end up appearing to have light shinning through it. Don't fret if that is the case.

Step 7: Rinse off with cold water

Once your 10 minutes are up you are going to go to the sink and rise any of the remaining white cream off entirely. At first you may not see the etching because it is wet. When your design is wet it will be translucent and difficult to distinguish. That's okay. When it dries it will frost up and be extremely visible.

Again make sure there are no other glasses in the sink at the time because the etching cream will etch any glass or porcelain surface it can get on to.

Also, keep in mind that once your glass is etched, it is completely dishwasher safe and hot and cold water safe. The design is permanent and will not come off.

Step 8: Dry

Use a towel to remove all the excess water. Don't start drying until all the other paste has been completely removed though. As the glass dries up, the etching will emerge and appear darker and darker!

Step 9: Pour some wine and use it!

That's right. First snap a photo of your etching success and then pour that glass of wine (or water if you are healthier than me) and indulge! Celebrate your beautiful creation!

And don't just stop at etching wine glasses! The sky is the limit! Some other items you may want to consider etching are:

  • mirrors

  • jars (for candles, food storage, spice storage, etc.)

  • glass containers that hold toiletries

  • the top of glass coffee tables

  • windows

  • glazed ceramics

  • porcelain

  • plates

  • And so much more!

I hope this inspired you to tackle this project. I know I certainly left Brooklyn Brainery stoked to etch anything and everything. And although I joked earlier, I really am etching everything for Christmas this year! So get ready!

Please to comment below with any questions and I'll be happy to answer them. Also share any ideas for items you have etched or plan to etch!

Hope you have a wonderful crafter-noon!

Forever grateful,


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