Etch Your Own Mirror




Ever looked at a mirror in your home and thought it needed something more? Here you will find a technique in glass etching! Add your own custom design and text to glass!

Step 1: Gather Materials

I will be using a technique very similar, almost identical, in fact, to that seen in this instructablethis instructable, so let all credit due to this author be shown.

The materials I used are as follows:

Large mirror (I purchased mine at Wal-Mart, they had many cheap and decent looking ones)
Armour Etch (found mine at
Foam paint brushes
Contact paper (kitchen section at Wal-Mart)
Xacto Knife
Cutting Board
Glass Cleaner

Step 2: Preparation

In this step, I began to apply the contact paper to the entire surface of my mirror. While the message I was etching didn't cover anywhere near this much surface, it kept me from scratching the mirror during all of my work.
Next, I measured the "body" of my letters (feel free to correct my letter terminology). By "body," I mean the distance from the line the letters are written on to the tops of the main parts of the letters. For example, the lowercase "o" fills the distance I measured. In my font's case, it was 32mm. Then, I measured the distance the "tails" stretched from the top and bottom of the letters. For example, a "y" has a tail that hangs down, and letters like f, t, and h have tops that rise above the main line. For my font, the top and bottom each extended 10mm above and below my main font line.
Knowing this gave me a knowledge necessary to properly align my font (though the pictures still show I didn't quite get it perfect).
I gave each line of text 52mm of space to ensure that it would not run into the letters above or below it. My pictures show the lines that I used to align my text.

Step 3: Print and Transfer Text

On my computer, I selected the font I wanted for my message, and I printed it out on normal computer paper. If I had it to do again, I might have used thin card stock to make the later steps easier.
Once I had the text printed out on paper in the desired size, I held it up to my contact paper and made small tick marks along my baseline to let myself know how far apart to space the letters. I then began the longest and most tedious step-- the cutting and tracing of the letters.
Since my printer wouldn't print directly onto the contact paper (believe me, I tried), and I was too cheap to buy a professional stencil (I priced a custom one with this exact message for 55 dollars), I could only think of one option. I cut out each letter that I had printed off, and I traced it onto the contact paper. This is where the lines come in. With these, your individual letters maintain a straight line and uniform look. Though you may continue on to the next step (cutting) at any point, I finished all my tracing before I began cutting the contact paper.

Step 4: Cut Out Excess

Once you've reached this step, you've almost finished. It might look like you have just as much work left ahead of you, but it is much easier to cut out the letters from the contact paper than it was to cut them out of the computer paper and trace them onto the mirror.
With your xacto knife, simply cut around each letter, being careful with the corners and portions of letters like "o" and 'e" that will remain on the glass. I found a sharp new blade was a good idea at this step.

Step 5: Apply Etching Cream

At this point, the mirror is ready for the etching cream. I used more contact paper to wrap around the remainder of the mirror, because later the mirror would be hosed off, and I didn't want to get water in the frame or around behind the glass.
With the foam brush, apply a thick layer of etching cream. I poured the cream across the lettering and then used the foam brush to smooth it across it. Use up and down, left and right motions to get the cream to fully cover the stencil. Allow the cream to sit for 5-10 minutes.
In my picture, the cream doesn't look very thick. In fact, it isn't. I actually applied a thicker layer, but I neglected to take a picture of it.

Step 6: Reveal Your Creation

Now it's time to see what you've done! I used a water hose to clean my mirror off. Once you get all the cream off, pull off the contact paper (and be amazed) and clean the glass with window cleaner. Stand back and enjoy!
When I first hosed mine off, I was rather disappointed. The wet mirror didn't look like the etching cream made any difference at all, but as I dried it off, the results were quite pleasing.
This is a relatively easy project with very pleasing results. This project is going to be a gift to my girlfriend **awwww**. There is relatively little cost, but the results look like a million bucks!!



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    16 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Go to any vinyl sign shop and have them make you a masking stencil, the vinyl comes in different styles, some are made just for masking, such as this. I've used it, and it works perfectly, and it's really cheap also. Cutting the letters by hand can drive a person crazy. :)

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Nine years later and I reply! I remembered my account password! Yes, that would have been MUCH easier, but was more expensive than my just-out-of-college budget could afford. Since this was posted, we've invested in a Silhouette device (which I also couldn't have afforded straight out of college, ha!) and it has made projects like this unbelievably easy!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Unless they're already crazy in which case it's fine.
    Moah ha ha aha ah ha


    5 years ago

    Okay so just got the app and wanted to flag this to come back to and flagged it wrong but I love the concept


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Looks awesome! I'm going to try it!
    Such a beautiful choice of scripture!!! <3


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Thanks so much for this guide! I used it on a mirror of my own.  One tip though-- Instead of cutting out the text on the computer paper, color over the back of the letters with a lead pencil (the heavier the better), and then tape the computer paper to the contact paper.  Take a sharp pencil (mechanical is good) and trace the outlines of the letters on the computer paper.  This basically makes a carbon-style copy onto the contact paper, and is soooo easy!


    10 years ago on Step 6

    beautiful! I'm making something similar, for my boyfriend. applying on a round mirror a drawing I made of the two of us together. thank you for the FANTASTIC IDEA !!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Armor etch cuts away a thin layer of the glass giving a frosted look to the glass.. and it is forever,make a mistake then you will know for sure, Any way you can use a squeege as in screen printing ,but be careful that the edges are pressed down correctly... GOOD JOB


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Song of Songs is the first book of the Bible I read all the way through, it's short but it is beautiful.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    you should have done something like "Contents in mirror are closer than they appear."


    10 years ago on Introduction

    my mom did this to a mirror in our bathroom in the early '90's and it is still there it looks just as nice as when it was first done too...

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Glad to hear it! This is my first time to try this, and I was wondering how long lasting it would be!