Picture of Glass Etched Glasses
For Christmas this year, I am etching different beverage glasses for my family. I have coffee mugs, beer glasses, and wine glasses. Here are the general directions and how-to to make your very own personalized glasses.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need:

-Clean glasses
-Glass Etching
-Masking Tape
-Glass Etching Stencils
-Paper Towels
-Scissors, Exacto, or other cutting devices

Step 2: Perpare your glass

Picture of Perpare your glass
Make sure that your glass is clean and you have a good clean surface with good lighting.

Decide on your design. You may want to sketch it out on paper first. For this pattern, I made one glass, measured the distance between stripes on a paper and used that as my template for future glasses.

Step 3: Mark your pattern

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Use masking tape or stencils to mark where you want to be etched. Make sure you use your nails or a popsicle stick to press the edges down securely onto the glass.

Step 4: Apply Etching Solution

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With a brush, heavily apply the glass etching solution to the area you want to be etched. Make sure that you get the solution in every nook and corner of your pattern. Also, make sure that you cannot see the glass beneath the solution to ensure maximum coverage.

Step 5: Wait

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Let the etching solution work on the glass for 2 minutes.

Step 6: Wash the glass

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After the two minutes, wash the solution off of the glass. Remove the tape and wipe the glass clean. If your tape leaves residue, wash the glass again with soap or Goo Be Gone to clean it off.

Step 7: Continue until finished

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Once you finished etching the first part, continue this process until the whole thing is done.

Step 8: Finished!

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After the etching is done, make sure to wash your glass again with soap and water. Then enjoy!

Here are some other pictures of different glasses that I have done for inspiration.
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JMCaro5 months ago

Dear friends: I have an idea for a project, but I would need to add color to the etching cream. Any ideas on the subject? Is it even possible?


gnarledwolf5 months ago

I've done a lot of sandblast work in the past and love it's deep etching, but I'm in an apartment now and noise is a consideration. Does longer exposure lead to any deeper etching or will it all be the same as the 2 to 5 minute limit?

evey5268 (author)  gnarledwolf5 months ago
In my experience, longer exposure did not lead to a deeper etching.
bpmccullough6 months ago

The wine glasses are very elegant, but I LOVE the checkered mugs.

Thank you!


patty.eitel7 months ago

I etched 4 pilsner glasses. Unless you hold the glasses up at an angle or up to light, you can't really see the etchings. Even putting something in the glasses doesn't help. However, it is well etched. any ideas?

ma_che625 years ago

Silly question for all of you folks. 

The Armour glass etching cream and stencils I have specify letting the cream sit on the glass for only 1 minute...not 2 minutes. 

Anyone know why? 

Perhaps after 1 minute the cream will starting eating through the stencil?

I know after only 1 minute (which is all I've tried) the etching is OK...but not all that deep or opaque. 


hjjusa ma_che623 years ago
the Amour etching cream i have specifys 5 to 10 minutes
2 minuits for letting it get to the qulity of professional glasses.
how much doses it cost? (etching stuff i mean)
evey5268 (author)  pineapplenewton6 years ago
The big 10oz bottle costs about $35. Everything else is pretty cheap, $3 brushes, $2 tape, paper towels.
Pompom evey52684 years ago
I think the best bet is to go to a craft store like Michael's, Jo-Ann's, or A.C. Moore, when they offer 40-60% off coupons. Just got myself some Armour-Etch recently that way: 22 oz. for $18.50 with the 50% off coupon. Though Einarjon says that a 10 oz. bottle will do hundreds/thousands of glasses, so I guess I went overboard...Oh well, a lifetime of glass-etching for me, then! (Also just got a 60% coupon at a local craft store and got me some otherwise too expensive gesso--previously just would put layers of paint to try and make a suitable surface. Rollin' with the big kids now!)
you are paying WAY too much for you etching cream. JoAnn's has it for much less as do many other online sources, but strangely enough, the cheapest I found was on Overstock. the 10oz bottle is $14.99, and they also carry a 2.5oz bottle *which is about all you need if you're only doing a few glasses or ornaments or, my favorite mirrors* which goes for $6.29. the huuuge 22oz bottle is $25.03. anything you buy from Overstock ships for $2.95, no matter how big or small and they quite often have free shipping or $1 shipping events. i also know that some of the larger walmarts carry it. ...and as mentioned, craft stores. ...but, if you have the time to wait for shipping, online is the cheapest way to go. ....i also found a "faux etching" kit where it's more like frosting than etching, same beautiful work, dishwasher, microwave and oven safe but without the skin eating chemicals. :)
Note that you can do hundreds (or thousands) of glasses with a 10oz bottle. The cream doesn't "wear out" so it can be scooped up and used again and again.
karmineky6 years ago
Beautiful glasses! Has anyone considered doing this with a Dremel tool? I'd prefer to do this without the harsh chemicals, but I'm afraid a Dremel might be a harsh tool!
A dremel can work if you keep the glass cool all the time with flowing water (without wetting your tool). I have done this a million times for signing my blown glass pieced or for decorating. O and it takes a steady hand and a lot of practice.
you can buy an "as seen on tv" tool for engraving that will work on glass, or if you're super careful you can use a dremel...but here's the thing. you have more to worry about than keeping you tool and glass cool. i used to manage a Things Remembered store where all i did all day was engrave metal and etch glass. you need to be SO careful how much pressure you use and what quality glass you use. you MUST use thicker glass. signing the bottom of blown glass isn't the same as trying to engrave the much thinner surface of the sides of the glass. it's incredibly easy to break the glass! it's also very, very hard to keep your depth consistent and your borders even. you're still going to want to use a stencil, free handing it just isn't something you're going to be able to do and have it look better than something a 5 year old would have done. but most of all, like i said, the heavier the glass, the better. if you're going to attempt this, it would be most suitable for say coffee mugs, beer mugs, etc....things that have thick glass walls.
all i can say is good luck, and bookmark this page for when you realize engraving isn't working and you decide to go with the etching acid :)
Sanblasting4 years ago
Thank you for posting this article. I know that these steps will help a lot of people learn a bit more about etching glasses.
Foxtrot705 years ago

Anyone know of a source of glasses that is two layered i.e. red or any other color over clear?  When the colored layer is etched away the white or clear shows thru the color for a dramatic effect.

Just remember to be very careful with glass etchant, as it contains hydrofluoric acid. This stuff is hella dangerous, do not get it on your skin, and if you do, wash it off immediately. It may not seem bad at first but it won't burn until it reaches the last layer of your skin, and it can really do a number on your bones.

Great instructable, will be making gifts with it.
does it contain hydrochloric acid aqs well?
cupcake8115 years ago
  This looks great and very professional. For younger kids or people lacking time and/or skill, try using glass markers. I am trying this on votive candle holders this year. Still, these look very professional and they look like someone would buy them at a store. I imagine they make great gifts! Nice work.
artsman235 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
evey5268 (author)  artsman235 years ago
I used Armour Etch, didn't really find anything else. I wanted to try the sand etching, maybe next time!
There is another brand or two other than Armour Etch but I can't remember which. I do sandetching alot. Please anyone ask me any questions here at glass etching lens:
Dlinkquint6 years ago
has anyone tried silk screening with this. do you think it would work or would the active ingredients eat away the silk screening emulsion.
Robb Dlinkquint5 years ago
I've screen printed with speedball diazo emulsion and a 110 mesh screen no problem. i used the screen at least 12 times and it held up great.
DIYDragon6 years ago
A couple questions.. Where did you find your etching cream as I'm having a hard time finding it? And do you know if it will work equally well on plexiglass like it does on normal glass? This looks really cool by the way. : )
evey5268 (author)  DIYDragon6 years ago
I found it at Michael's. If you can't find it, it is usually near the glass painting stuff and mosaic area. Or ask someone, they are usually knowledgable! Also, I have no idea if it works on plexiglass. Did you try to google it? has just about everything, including armor etch
FYI - you CANNOT buy etching compound in Cook County, IL or Chicago, in case you ever need to look there. Against the law to sell it here. People learned that it is 'fun' to tag windows with it, so you have to order it online to get it here.
Robb bibliogrrl5 years ago
I've purchased etching compound in cook county. you have to be 18, but they sell it in Evanston at Blick.
Etching solutions are formulated for glass which is chemically very different from plexiglass, glass being an inorganic material and plexiglass being a carbon-based polymer. Organic solvents such as acetone attack plexiglass readily and I am sure that with some testing a similiar effect can be achieved. Perhaps not with the understated elegance however ;)
Etching solution can be found at many hobby stores, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and the like. It's hydrofluoric acid mostly, really nasty stuff. As someone else said, it acts differently on acrylic(plexiglass). Your best bet for plastic sheeting is to use either very fine sandpaper, abrasive blasting, abrasive scrubbing (wet baking soda) or brushed on acetone. With acetone, the motion of the brush will do the etching, because it'll be being dragged through a thin layer of liquid plastic. Try it on scrap pieces, of course, for practice.
madkiller6 years ago
a question would this work on large pieces of glass such as a table
Most table tops are safety glass. If so it wouldn't work. If you cut your own table top out of regular glass - then yes.
Robb gloflyer5 years ago
I've used armour etch on tempered glass. no problem, works great. laminated glass, however could present problems. in my experience, table tops have been tempered glass.
evey5268 (author)  madkiller6 years ago
It definitely could. I would suggest doing it outside and using your hose to wash off the etching solution. It would be difficult to wash a table off in the sink. :)
I actually saw a project like that. Turned out awesome. Had mostly abstract and tribal patterning on it. The girl also put in some LED underlighting later on and said she was planning to hook it up to a microcontroller to do the disco-bar thing. Didn't post it here though or document it in any way. This was back in atlanta too, and I don't have any pics (srry).
hms10186 years ago
I just bought me a glass desk and I want 2 personalize it. Thanks 4 a beautiful Idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will show the b4 and end resultz. This 1 is dedicated 2 U
kcli6 years ago
I would certainly be proud to receive a set of etched glasses, but after reading your Instructable, I just wanna make them for myself (and not attempt to find them new homes)...what a fun project!
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