Introduction: Glass Etched Glasses

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.

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.


AjaC (author)2016-02-22

I need help! I have tried TWICE following the directions I have found online for etching glass and whether I leave the cream on for a few minutes or overnight it still washes completely off! What is going wrong!

patty.eitel (author)2014-08-22

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?

PatriciaR50 (author)patty.eitel2016-01-18

Hi! Something like that happened to me recently. I etched some beer glasses and they appeared fine, but when my visitors used the glasses and poured some beer on them the design couldn't be seen. Is this normal? What can I do to avoid this?

JMCaro (author)2014-10-17

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?


twighahn (author)JMCaro2015-11-06


JMCaro (author)twighahn2015-11-06

Any particular kind of dye?

NerdyGirl79 (author)JMCaro2015-12-31

Use special glass paint from Americana.

NerdyGirl79 made it! (author)2015-12-31

I made these glass mugs for my family for xmas. Turned out pretty dope!

My cousin and his fiancé are choreographers and are big MJ fans.

twighahn (author)2015-11-06

Does anyone know how to make safe etching solution?

Firedude68 (author)2015-04-27

Armour etch recommends leaving cream on for only 60 seconds to keep stencil lines sharp. I use vinyl wall stickers to use as my stencil...I fine the adhesive works great and have not seen any issues with my edges....however have not seen much of a difference in the etch quality by letting it sit longer.

Hope this helps!

gnarledwolf (author)2014-10-04

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)gnarledwolf2014-10-04

In my experience, longer exposure did not lead to a deeper etching.

ma_che62 (author)2010-01-03

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 (author)ma_che622011-12-04

the Amour etching cream i have specifys 5 to 10 minutes

geoslim13 (author)ma_che622010-02-08

2 minuits for letting it get to the qulity of professional glasses.

pineapplenewton (author)2008-12-07

how much doses it cost? (etching stuff i mean)

evey5268 (author)pineapplenewton2008-12-07

The big 10oz bottle costs about $35. Everything else is pretty cheap, $3 brushes, $2 tape, paper towels.

Pompom (author)evey52682010-11-22

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!)

smiddenkidden (author)evey52682010-10-10

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. :)

Einarjon (author)evey52682008-12-12

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.

karmineky (author)2009-01-15

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!

iwanvb (author)karmineky2009-01-26

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.

smiddenkidden (author)iwanvb2010-10-10

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 :)

Sanblasting (author)2010-06-20

Thank you for posting this article. I know that these steps will help a lot of people learn a bit more about etching glasses.

Foxtrot70 (author)2009-12-23

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.

cupcake811 (author)2009-11-23

  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.

evey5268 (author)2009-09-25

I used Armour Etch, didn't really find anything else. I wanted to try the sand etching, maybe next time!

artsman23 (author)evey52682009-09-26

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:

Dlinkquint (author)2008-12-08

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 (author)Dlinkquint2009-04-12

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.

bibliogrrl (author)2008-12-11

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 (author)bibliogrrl2009-04-12

I've purchased etching compound in cook county. you have to be 18, but they sell it in Evanston at Blick.

madkiller (author)2008-12-07

a question would this work on large pieces of glass such as a table

gloflyer (author)madkiller2008-12-13

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 (author)gloflyer2009-04-12

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)madkiller2008-12-07

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. :)

jongscx (author)madkiller2008-12-07

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).

hms1018 (author)2009-03-08

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

kcli (author)2009-01-06

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!

dips (author)2009-01-05

this is awesome! Im tempted to start off on some of the glasses I have. But I have a question. Im from India and I doubt Etching solution will be easily available (if it is, Im sure it will be VERY expensive). So can you recommend some easy to use substitute to me? Something as simple as etching cream seems to be, yet a little less specific and more easily available. - Dips

thatkidwithayoyo (author)2008-12-20

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.

john12692 (author)2008-12-14

lol i'm already etching a class with the molecular structure of alcohol for my mom for christmas in chemestry class (we had some time to kill before exams start)

ridiciliculous (author)john126922008-12-15


inquisitive (author)2008-12-14


phapboy (author)2008-12-14

Cool! My mom bought a jar of glass etching cream... I think I might try this....

Murphys_Lawyer (author)2008-12-08

I have used this method to make a glass table top. The only thing that I might caution people on is to NOT try to etch tempered glass!

AAndy (author)Murphys_Lawyer2008-12-11

Why not? Does it shatter or something? Inquiring mind needs to know... Thanks.. 8o)

odiekokee (author)AAndy2008-12-12

Tempered glass is heated in a way that makes the "skin" surfaces very very hard, and under very high tension. That's why it breaks into very small particles on impact (no big dagger shards to slice a person badly) Etching can leave areas where that tension collects into "stress risers"....and with just a little bad luck, it'll self-destruct under much smaller forces than required for intact glass. I think the VIN's are put on before the tempering, but not sure. I do know the scribe used for the marking is made from carbide, and done by impact. Purely speculation on the VIN part.

static (author)odiekokee2008-12-13

It looks like the VIN etching is a after market service and, appears to use an etching cream ( ) on all windows, even the tempered side and, rear glass. I also wondered if the etching would reduce the surface tension of tempered glass making is easier to break. I really have no experience with it one way or another, myself.

AAndy (author)odiekokee2008-12-13

Thanks to you & bibliogrrl...I understand now.

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