Monday, November 22, 2010

Homemade Holidays: Glass Etching and Candles


This past week has been an etching extravaganza. From candles to...well...I can't tell you because people getting these gifts are reading (humbug?). Let's just say a good glass etching is a fabulous gift. So, without further ado, I give you the quick and dirty etching tutorial!


Supplies: You'll need etching paste (this can be difficult to find but is easily available online and in many craft stores), contact paper, a craft knife, something to etch, and a print-out or drawing of the design you would like to use.


First, make sure your design is the correct size for your vessel. The more simple the lines of the image the easier it will be to cut and etch. I'm using the most complex one on the page to show you how a more intricate pattern works - both in silhouette and as a reverse-out image.


When you are ready, go ahead and trace the pattern you'll be using onto your contact paper with a pen or marker (place the paper below the contact paper and the contact paper plasticy-side up - write directly on the plastic contact paper). Don't worry, this won't show on your etching so be as messy as you need to be.

You could try to cut the contact paper with the design directly below but I don't recommend this method - it leaves too much room for error and things move around too much.

There are tons of silhouette images easily and freely available all over the internet - just give a search for your interest area (i.e. "Labrador silhouette"). If you happen to have a silhouetted photo you would like to use (for example: a child's face) this is the method I use: resize to fit the vessel, on the image trace the outside line of the face/image with a heavy marker, then use those lines to trace onto your contact paper - this simplifies the image and makes it easier to see when tracing onto the contact paper.


Once you have the pattern or image drawn on your contact paper go ahead and cut it out carefully with your craft knife.

Peel the backing away from the contact paper and place onto your glass to be etched. If you are trying to do a reverse-out image (like the top portion of the piece above) make sure to place tape or contact paper in a frame around the space to be etched for clean lines and a nice border.


At this point I like to use a clean cloth to push down the pattern and clean any smudges or oils off the glass. Firmly secure the contact paper.

Remember, if you are using a round/cylindrical vessel a square piece of contact paper may get bubbles and not adhere very well - especially if you are trying to do a large etching. I recommend tracing the shape of the vessel onto the paper by laying it on its side and tracing as you roll the glass. Often you'll have an arch shape. After tracing go ahead and cut your image out of that piece of contact paper - it will adhere better and give you a more accurate idea of placement.


From here follow the directions for the etching cream you are using. Make sure to shake well, get a nice, thick, even coverage, and be patient. Also, make sure to keep an eye on your craft - etching paste can and will drip - don't ruin your piece with splotches! And be careful, etching paste is caustic - keep it away from eyes and off of your skin.


After the recommended period of time (five minutes for my etching paste), go ahead and rinse the vessel. The contact paper will usually come off in the wash but you can pull it right off as well. Give a good wash with soap and water after and dry. That's it! You're done!


If you want to turn your etched glass project into a candle you can follow the instructions here, or simply place an appropriately sized candle inside. In my case, I happened to have a bunch of random broken, half-used candles lying about. I melted them down, pulled out the wicks from the melted wax, poured the wax in and voilá, a custom etched-glass candle!

If anyone would like the piece etched for this example you are welcome to it. First to say-so gets it!

Have fun making those homemade holiday etchings!


i run for life said...

Love this! I have been wanting to try glass etching for awhile now! Awesome tutorial!

Anonymous said...

I love this! I really want to give homemade gifts this season, so this gives me an idea:)

CandaceAshley said...

OOO I love this idea! I was showing it to my mom, she has etching cream and is excited to try this craft! This would be a fun gift idea!

Laura Keller said...

These look lovely! I've always been a bit intimidated by the idea of etching glass but this seems completely do-able. Thanks for sharing the process!

Leah said...

i'm just catching up on your blog. i'm in love with this idea! you are so amazing! i'm totally stealing this for a gift idea sometime. :-0