Personalize a stainless steel drinking flask for yourself or as a gift. This is very easy. I came up with this method through trial-and-error while trying and failing to etch a flask according to this lovely instructable:
His looks a lot cleaner, but if you're okay with a distressed look mine is way easier.
Step 1: Materials
1. Stainless steel flask
2. General purpose sandpaper
3. Fine grit sandpaper (not absolutely necessary but desirable)
5. The back of a used sheet of sticky labels
6. Painters/masking tape
7. Isopropyl Alcohol
8. Carb & Injection cleaner (not absolutely necessary but desirable)
9. Piece of fabric, such as scrap from T shirt. Towel may work.
10. Spray on sealant
Step 2: STEP 1: Print Your Image
Print your image on the waxy side of a used sheet of label paper. This needs to be on a laser printer, inkjet will not work. If you take your image to Kinkos they will do it for about 15 cents. I tried alternate methods such as using transfer paper and a glossy photo and they did not work for me. Make sure you remember to flip the image horizontally so it looks backwards when printed and will iron on properly (mirror image). I also make a photo negative of the image I wanted to maximize contrast, since my ink transferred insistently. I think if I only had the words if would not be legible.
Step 3: STEP2: Prepare the Flask
You will need to sand the flask with the general purpose sandpaper where you will be transferring the image. You can tape away the area where you are not transferring the image to keep the rest of it glossy if you want, but I found that the flask looked better when I sanded the whole thing, to make the entire flask look equally distressed. After you have finished sanding the flask clean the area wit isopropyl alcohol
Step 4: STEP 3: Transfer the Image
Cut out the image and tape it on the flask, trying to get it as flat onto the flask as possible. It is fairly easy to do this on the convex side (front) of the flask and really really hard to do well on the concave (back) side to the degree that I don't recommend trying to do both sides.
Try not to overlap the tape and the image. Place fabric such as a T shirt over the flask and image, and iron with firm pressure for 2 minutes, on highest iron setting. The fabric is very important for equalizing pressure and heat, it's a simple step but it looks really bad if you skip it. You will not see the fabric in the pictures because I took these pictures before I started putting the fabric in, and was ironing directly on the paper. Those flasks all looked like crap.
Remove the transfer paper while it is still hot. It probably will not transfer completely (hence the "weathered" description) but it should be mostly transferred. If it is not good enough, you can always wait for it to cool off, sand the image off, and start over.
Step 5: STEP 4: Finishing Touches
Depending on how the image transferred, you might want to sand a little bit to make it look better, maybe if it's too dark in some spots but light in others, sand off some of the ink in the dark spots. Or if the image is not quite sharply rectangular, sand away the edges to give it a softer look. You can use either the rough general purpose sandpaper of fine grit, depending on your tastes and desired effect.
Step 6: STEP 6: Finishing
Lightly clean off the flasks with either alcohol or carb cleaner if the tape left a gummy residue. Cover the mouthpiece and spray the flask with a sealant to keep the image from rubbing off. Follow your sealant's directions re: how many coats to add, how often, etc. Let it dry.
Now you're done! Don't get too boozed up!