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DIY: Etched typography glasses

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Good typefaces are art — fabulous, ready-made graphic art at your fingertips.

Etching on glass is one of my favorite ways to showcase beautiful type. It may seem daunting to think of burning graphics onto glass, but you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

What you’ll need:
  • Frisket film or adhesive stencil vinyl
  • Latex gloves
  • Small paintbrush
  • Craft knife
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Glass-etching cream (Armor Etch or Martha Stewart Glass Etching Cream)
  • Wet paper towel
  • Typeface (We used Coquette by Mark Simonson)
 
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Step 1:

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Select your font. Be sure to choose one with relatively thick lines if you’re cutting by hand.

Use a graphic design program to reverse the lettering.

Print your design on regular paper and cut around each word, leaving about a half-inch border around it. Tape it to the back of your frisket. You will be looking at your design through the frisket to cut it. If you’re not using a transparent type stencil vinyl, you can tape your design to the paper side of it and cut. Just double check that the lettering is justified correctly when you look at the stencil. (If you’re looking at it from the sticky/paper-backed side, the lettering should appear to be reversed.)

Step 2:

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Now you’re ready to cut the stencil. Use a sharp utility knife to cut around the lettering. If you have a Silhouette machine, you can also use it cut these digitally, which is much faster. Turn your stencil as you go to make it easier to get clean cuts around curves and odd angles.

Conserve any letters that have holes in them such as e, a, o, or d. You’ll need the little pieces of vinyl that make up the center hole in each letter — they’re added individually after your stencil is applied. These little bits resist the etching and make sure your letters look like they should.
gtoal2 months ago

Anyone who has not used Armor Etch before or who has used it but doesn't use safety goggles and rubber or neoprene gloves, please read the definitive comments on safety in the MSDS for Armour Etch: http://cdn.dickblick.com/msds/DBH_60966z.pdf

There are also some comments on safety in http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-glass-engraving-with-the-Cricut/ and the followup discussion.

This etchant is mainly hydroflouric acid which was the strongest acid my high school chemistry lab was allowed to use and then only by the teacher. I'd be surprised if it's even allowed in schools these days. We were warned that if you get it on your skin it can eat its way down to the bone. Hydroflouric acid is the acid that's so strong it can eat glass - which is why it's used as an etchant and stored in plastic containers. Now, the Armor Etch is somewhat dilute and in a suspension that lowers the risk of serious damage, but it's still a dangerous industrial chemical and ought to be treated with some respect.

I don't want to dissuade people from doing projects like these, but I want to make sure you realise that you need to take more safety precautions than you may be used to for hobby/craft projects.

Raitis gtoal2 months ago

No big deal if you're washing the cream off bare handed though and it doesn't have that much of an immediate effect in general. In example, when my skin contacted 30% hydrogen peroxide it instantly became lighter and I even felt something wrong.

Source: I've had this stuff on my hands.

Anyways, it's better to be safe than sorry (I just don't like working with gloves). Protective glasses on the other hand is a must, despite the tiny chance of this getting in your eyes, you don't want stuff like that there.

jdavies882 months ago

My Dremel tool with the engraving cutters works awesome! Quick, easy, and clean! After the glass is etched I switch accessories for some light sanding.

OhLeita2 months ago

Good job~! Whether it's by cream or a $10,000 blasting unit, selecting the right font and spacing/kerning for a name and the type of glass to be used is what makes an object look amazing. Etching is fun!

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stevenrterry2 months ago

I'm going to tackle this project today! Great instructable.

thebeatonpath3 months ago

Glass etching is one of my favorite projects! People also LOVE receiving these as gifts. High dollar look for a low price. So happy to have my cutting machine for these.

Lio Volino3 months ago
Super Nice!!
oakback3 months ago

My brother has been doing glass etching for years. As an alternative, he uses shelf paper, and transfers his designs by tracing over the printed image with carbon paper sandwiched in between. Or if it's a hand-drawn design, he draws right on the shelf paper, as it's already adhered to the glass/mirror surface. I'd imagine it'd be a bit difficult with a curved glass surface, but at least it's alternative for folks who might not have stencil vinyl and healing mat.

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