How to Make Money with Glass Etching

Glass Etching is a perfect way to make a second income. There are 3 levels of activity, all of which are possible in an ordinary suburban home.

To get your toe in the water, so to speak, you can start by using one of the new etching creams that give you a mass of do-it-yourself etching possibilities.

If you find that glass etching is your thing and you enjoy doing it, you can develop a home business devoted to one of the niche markets in the glass etching world, such as catering for wedding glass etching.

The next and final step, is to go fully professional and acquire the equipment for sandblasting. It is quite possible to set up in a shed or garage and go part or full time in this interesting and very rewarding activity.

Glass etching is a process of abrading the surface of glass in a manner to produce a design. The frosted glass appearance that results is permanent and cannot be accidently removed from the glass. It is capable of producing beautiful effects by carving designs deep into the glass and introducing shading effects.

The three main processes used to produce etched glass are chemical etching, laser etching and sand blasting or carving.

  1. Chemical etching is used as a quick and easy way of doing surface etching where depth and shading is not required. Many people start off trying Etching Cream and later move on to sand carving to capture extra quality of which sand carving is capable.
  2. Laser Etching etches the glass with a splintering action which makes fine line work difficult. Laser cannot achieve the depth or fine detail of sand carving and for this reason we do not recommend laser etching.
  3. Sand Blasting or Carving is the most widely used glass etching method, primarily because of the finished high quality results possible.

Glass etching has always spelled quality. It is still very much a hand-made process where the skill of the trained artisan is demonstrated. Used widely for personalising the better quality awards and gifts in crystal, glass, marble and stone.

The proudest possessions of any family are these heirlooms of to-morrow. A company Logo looks at its best when sand carved on a crystal decanter or something similar.

It is now easy for artists to created frosted glass, etched stone, and etched glass works of art.

The process of producing art on a variety of suitable surfaces, can take as little as three minutes of time.

While each type of etching has its place and certainly its own set of benefits, it is chemical etching that is the simplest form of glass etching.

There are six steps that are needed to produce a frosted image on glass. We will go over each step and provide a few tips along the way to help you realize the beauty and simplicity of glass etching.

Watch this video to see what chemical glass etching is all about:

Etching is a permanent event, and once glass has been etched, the etching will stay on the glass for ever.

It cannot be removed. It will not fade over time. It will not flake off and deteriorate.

A Note on Safety: Boring but Necessary!

Safety is the first thing that an artist should create, especially when working with chemical etching creams.

This is an acid process, and it is important that you protect your skin and your eyes from serious damage and injury. Wear goggles and latex gloves EVERY time that you use etching cream.

What to Decorate:

When starting off remember that your local $2 shop contain a mass of cheap glass containers, bottles, glasses, jugs etc just waiting for embellishment by etching and turned into a thing of beauty and much greater value.

Items such as the commercial jars used by Moconna can be converted from throw away items to display items for storing salt, sugar after finishing their life as coffee containers.

You are surrounded with items simply waiting for you to upgrade, with beautiful, permanent etched designs, ranging from birds, nameplates, flowers, quotations or poems.

Etched glass of any type can be used as a great gift idea, since it adds a personal touch.

You should be aware that the stock blue stencils can only be used once, so purchase the exact number you will require for your project.  Multi use stencils have become available over the past few years and both have a place in etching.

How to Use Etching Cream:

Safety Supplies:

  • Googles
  • Latex Gloves
  • Clothing that is long-sleeved.

Art Supplies:

  • Masking Tape,
  • Lint Free Cheese Cloth.
  • Cotton Buds
  • Stencils.
  • Paper Towels
  • Newspaper.
  • Warm water source.
  • Crafting Stick.

Step 1: Cleaning the Glass Surface:

The surface of the glass must be free of dirt, residue and oil.

You can clean the glass with glass cleaner, but make sure that it is normal glass cleaner and that it does not say that it is resistant to fingerprints.

There is something in that type of glass cleaner that causes a sheeting action that protects from fingerprints, and causes etching to be poor in quality.

Step 2: Stencil Application

Once the glass surface is clean, dry, and free of lint, you can begin to apply the stencil.

TIP: Cut both the stencil and the backing sheet at the same time. This will help you keep the back of the stencil free of fingerprints and other oils.

Using a ruler, position the stencil where you want it to be. Gently remove the backing paper from the stencil and then place the stencil onto the glass.

Using masking tape secure the stencil in place. The sticky side of the stencil goes on the glass (be careful not to touch the sticky part of the stencil).

To transfer the stencil to the glass surface gently rub a wood craft stick over the stencil in a back and forth effort. Be very careful that you do not puncture the stencil.

As the process is completed, the colour of the stencil will turn from a dark blue to a lighter blue.

The goal is to create a uniform colour across the stencil showing it is firmly attached and will not move during the etching process

Step 3: Checking Stencil Application

When you have completed attaching the stencil, check by peeling back one corner of the stencil.

If the transfer is satisfactory, re-attach the stencil with gentle pressure from the wooden craft stick and continue.

Step 4: Masking your project:

To prevent the etching cream from seeping under the stencil into unwanted areas, you must mask with tape.

Begin with the outer edges of your project and then proceed outward until you have a nice border that will protect the glass surfaces that you do not want etched.

Remember, there is no undo button. Any accidental etching will be permanent.

The last part of this step is to make sure that the tape is firmly adhered to the glass.

To accomplish this goal, use the backing paper that we set aside earlier, and the wooden craft stick gently to press the tape down.

Be careful not to tear the tape as even small holes will cause the glass surface beneath the tape to become etched.

TIP: Holding the piece up to a light will show you immediately if there are any holes in the tape. If you find holes, tape over them.

Step 5: Applying the Armour Etching Cream:

Put on the safety goggles, and gloves.

Before opening the container shake it vigorously to make certain that the product has not settled.

The ideal temperature to work with etching cream is 22°C. Start by placing the piece on newspaper or cardboard.

If the object is round, you can use two pencils taped to the work surface, to prevent it rolling across the table.

The goal is to apply a thick layer of the etching cream. If you can no longer see the stencil or tape through the layer of cream than layer is thick enough.


Step 6: The result:

The etching cream should only stay on your glass object for one minute.

When that minute is up, carefully wash off the etching cream using a gentle stream of lukewarm water, to prevent splashing of the acid cream.

When the etching cream has been removed you can remove the tape and stencil.

The only task left is to clean the glass using a glass cleaner and then allow the piece to dry.

Sand Blasting or Carving:

Although a very old process sandblasting has been brought into the digital age by a new method of making the stencils used in the process. Previously the stencils were laboriously hand cut. In the late 1980’s photo stencils were developed and revolutionized the industry. These new stencils are capable of producing infinite detail by means of this new computer enhanced photographic process.

Anyone intending to take the final step to becoming a professional etcher and running a full time business will need to invest in the necessary equipment.

Using sandblasters will enable you to create larger, more deeply etched designs. When you need to evenly etch or obscure the entire piece of glass or mirror, sandblasting is the only way to go.

Sandblasters come in two types. Both allow adjustment of the air flow that comes from the compressor.

The Syphon blaster lets gravity feed the abrasive into the sandblast gun. All of the “booth type” sandblasters are syphon blasters and require a 5hp compressor for optimum performance.

The pressure blaster puts the sand under controllable pressure to enable you to control the speed at which the abrasive material is blasted from the gun. This has the effect of making it easier to etch faster and more deeply into the glass with less pressure required.

Although the term sandblaster is still used, sand due to its carcinogenic properties is no longer used as the abrasive material.

Sandblasting Business For Sale:

Over 10 years ago I purchased 3 existing businesses that I considered had great financial opportunities that I intended to offer to my youngest son Adam, as an incentive to start a business of his own. Try the 3, and choose his vocation was the idea.

To cut a long story short, he found his true interest lay in the world of mould making and is pursuing these activities to this day.

The time has come to dispose of the glass etching business, which I have always considered a business that offers great opportunities for internet development and thus a business of the future.

The great attraction of glass etching lies in the fact that it cannot be exploited by the big boys to your competitive disadvantage, yet is ideal for Amazon, eBay and Etsy sales.

Glass etching is something that can be developed over a period of time from any home, using spare time hours. Ideal in other words for a second income.

It is not for everyone, and as it turned out not for Adam but frankly I can’t help seeing the many advantages and would love to be involved but at 97 I suppose you have to draw the line at activities that are beyond you.

The business has been dormant for several years and is not being sold as a active business, rather as a massively complete start up project. Everything is ready for immediate development and is being sold for the written down price of the equipment alone.

It represents a great entry point for anyone interested as all the hard initial establishment work has been done. Equipment (The best money can buy), Roland Stencil Cutter, stencil material, glass stock items, display samples and complete instructional material.

Someone in 2018 will take up this offer and be happy doing something that is interesting and financially rewarding. Will it be you!

Wishing you all the best

Stan Alderson.(Retired)

Please ring Adam at 02.9533 9555 to discuss glass etching.


This is a craft that utilizes the hand-made skills of an artist.

There is a long and positive history of etching.

The types of art that you can make from etching, ranges from decorative recycled wine bottles to jewellery.

You can create plaques and one-of-a-kind mementoes such as his/her wedding toast glasses.


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