The Quickest & Easiest Way to Etch Glass

It is now fairly easy for artists to create frosted glass, etched stone, and etched glass marble, works of art. The process of producing art on suitable surfaces takes as little as three minutes of time. Etching can be accomplished by sand blasting, laser etching or through chemical etchings.


While each type of etching has its place and certainly its own set of benefits, it is chemical etching that we will focus on in this articles. 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.

Etching is a permanent event, and once glass has been etched, the etching will stay on the glass forever. It cannot be removed. It will not fade over time. It will not flake off and deteriorate.

A Note on Safety:

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.

Safety Supplies:


Latex Gloves

Clothing that is long-sleeved.

Art Supplies:

Masking Tape,

Lint Free Cheese Cloth.

Cotton Buds


Paper Towels


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:

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

To transfer the stencil to the glass surface gently rub the crafting 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. This will be your best clue that the stencil is completely transferred, to prevent any of the etching cream from leaking under the stencil.

Step 3: Checking the Applied Stencil

When the stencil has been transferred, peel back one corner of the backing paper. If the transfer is good, then continue to remove the backing paper. At any time that you detect that the transfer of the stencil is not complete, place the backing paper back down and continue to rub with the wood craft stick.

Step 4: Masking your projects:

Once the plastic cover has been removed, it is time to mask the project. Apply some masking tape around the edges of the stencil. This will help to prevent the etching cream from seeping under the stencil.

Begin with the outer edges of your project and then proceed outward until you have made a sufficiently wide border with the masking tape that will protect all 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 masking 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 to  gently 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 create a thick layer of the etching cream. A helpful gauge is if you can no longer see the stencil or tape through the layer of cream than layer is thick enough. REMEMBER TO USE YOUR SAFETY EQUIPMENT.

Step 6: The result:

The etching cream should only stay on your glass object for about one minute. When that minute is up, carefully wash off the etching cream using a gentle stream of luke warm water. The gentle stream will help 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 glass cleaner and then allow the piece to dry.


This is a craft that utilizes the hand-made artistic skills of an artist. There is a long and positive history of etching. The types of art that you can make from etching glass 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.

Make a gift of etched glass with one of the beginner’s kits that are available. The kits contain everything you need to make some beautiful etched glass items, complete with full instructions. Click here for more information.

Stan Alderson

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