Hello! Can you believe it How To’sday once again. I’m pretty thrilled at how long we’ve been treated each week to a new technique or crafting idea from one of you. Today our tutorial on glass etching comes to us from Melanie Carey.

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How to etch glass.

Materials Needed:

  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Etching Crème
  • Squeegee
  • Hook to remove cut pieces from the vinyl in order to create your stencil
  • Glass piece to be etched (such as picture frame, wine glass, glass plate, candle holder, etc). I’d recommend buying a second piece as a backup
  • Glass cleanser
  • Adhesive backed vinyl
  • Transfer paper
  • Cutting machine to create the stencil


Step 1: Create your design in your preferred die cutting system software. This tutorial demonstrates the Silhouette SD.

Helpful Hint: Perform a test run to ensure that your design is the right size for your glass piece by using the sketch feature or cutting your design onto a test paper. If you are going to sketch a wine glass and/or something round this step is very helpful. You’ll want to make sure that you can lay the paper flat against the glass without any creasing. The more intricate the design the more chance you will have problems adhering the stencil to the glass. Any bubbles and/or creases in the vinyl immediately around the cutout pieces will cause the etching crème to bleed.

Here are the images and their measurements that I used:

  • Flourish: Silhouette image name – Flourish, Height: 0.505in Width: 2.060in
  • Name: Font: Monotype Cursive, size: 60 pt
  • Grapes: Silhouette image name: Grapes by Sarah Bailey, Height: 1.865in
  • Width: 1.1in

Step 2: Load the adhesive-backed vinyl into your machine. Your machine may or may not require a carrier sheet, but I would recommend using one because I have found it holds the vinyl in place and makes a cleaner cut.

For Silhouette machine users, if you decide to load the vinyl without the carrier sheet, make sure that “load media” is displayed in the window on the machine.  To do this, turn on the Silhouette and select the arrow pointing to the right till you see “load media.” Then load the adhesive-backed vinyl into the Silhouette without the carrier sheet.

Step 3: In the Silhouette Studio, select the cut settings, then “Silhouette vinyl” as your media type. Depending on the condition of your blade you may need to increase the cut thickness. I’ve had to increase mine to 10 or 11 depending on the sharpness of my blade. You may want to do a test cut first with a small piece of vinyl just to ensure you have the right thickness. Also, if you have a really intricate designs you may want to reduce the speed as well.

Step 4: Using the blue cap cut your design.

Step 5: Next, you need to remove the pieces that will be etched (you are creating a stencil from the negative space).

Helpful Hint: Do this step slowly especially around little pieces of vinyl that need to remain (i.e. the little triangle part of the A and the oval part of the letter e). If you go too fast you will lift those pieces off and then you’ll have to reposition them yourself. Also, if you are using a tool that has a point, be careful not to prick the vinyl that is remaining as you may get an etched dot there. A hook tool is also helpful to hold down the little pieces of vinyl which are needed to remain.

Step 6: Next you need to apply the transfer paper to the top of the Vinyl stencil which will hold all the little pieces of Vinyl (i.e. the triangle piece in the A and the oval piece of the e) in place while you apply the vinyl to your glass.

Step 7: Wash your glass piece with soap and water then use a glass cleaner to ensure that there are no finger prints, water marks, pieces of lint, etc.

Step 8: Cut your vinyl stencil so it will fit onto your glass piece. Make sure that you have enough vinyl around the negative space to ensure that you don’t have any etching crème touch the glass where you don’t want it.  In my case, I had 4 stencils that I was creating (Anne, Grapes x2, Keith). So I cut my large stencil into four pieces. Turn your Vinyl Stencil over and peel off the adhesive.

Step 9: Apply your vinyl stencil to your glass piece. Use a squeegee to remove any bubbles or wrinkles in the stencil. Make sure that absolutely no bubbles or wrinkles are anywhere near the cutouts.

Helpful Hint: If you are using a rounded piece of glass, begin by adhering the center of the stencil to the flattest part of the glass. Next drag the squeeguee to the top of the stencil.  Repeat in a concentric pattern. Make sure that there are NO air bubbles or tiny folds in the stencil around the cut out pieces, as the etching creme will etch undesired areas that are exposed.  If you are etching a flat piece of glass you can lay the stencil on the table with the adhesive side up then place the glass piece directly on top of it.

Because I was working with a round glass I placed the glass on an old folded towel to prevent it from rolling.

Step 10: Next peel off the transfer paper.

Step 11: WEARING GLOVES and Goggles pour a generous amount of the etching crème onto the glass. Make sure it’s evenly distributed.

Step 12: Wait 15 minutes (these instructions should be on the etching crème container).

Step 13: Using a plastic squeegee, gently scrape off most of the etching crème. Take care not to lift up the stencil during this process. Most etching crèmes are reusable so you can scrape the crème back into the container.

Step 14: Using a folded paper towel wipe off the remaining crème and throw the paper towel away. Do not moisten or wet the paper towel prior to wiping the crème off.  If you use a wet paper towel the stencil will lose its adhesion and the crème will bleed under the stencil.

Step 15: Next rinse the glass piece under running water.

Step 16: After you have rinsed the glass, fill the sink with water so that you can peel the stencil off while your glass remains totally submersed.

Viola! You are now done!!

Other projects:

Heart Silhouette Shape: Heart Nesting with Swirls by Samantha Walker, Height:2.135in Width:1.685in

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Melanie, thank you so much for your tutorial. It’s perfect timing with the holidays right around the corner. Just think of the darling neighbor gifts that you could make with glass etching.

If you have an idea that you would like to share for a How To’sday tutorial we would love to see! You can send your idea with photos and directions to kristy@stealnetwork.com.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for our next Opal club series, Mid Week Mojo.

Have a fantastical day!