Etched Glass




In this Instructable I will show you how to make etched glass artwork.

You will need:

-rotary tool

-piece of glass (I get these cut at a glass shop to roughly 5-inch square)

-image that you want to etch (unless you can draw - I can't) to fit your glass ( I used the robot mascot from )



-ruler (optional - depends how particular you are about centering)

-safety glasses (not shown but VERY important!)

Step 1: Sanding

First thing you want to do is sand your edges. They can cut you if you are not careful. I suggest 200 grit or higher. (not the terrible 80 that I have pictured here)

Sand along the top and bottom edges of all four sides, as well as the corners. Carefully feel if they are smooth enough. Stop sanding when you are satisfied.

Step 2: Optional: Hanger Hole

Depending on how you plan to display your piece, you may want a hole or two to thread a wire for hanging when you are finished. You may want to prop it against a wall or in a slotted piece of wood instead.

You MUST work slowly for this step. The reason I suggest doing this before etching your actual image is that you may break your glass if you are not careful.

Please, please, PLEASE wear your safety glasses for this and any rotary tool use throughout this instructable! I *really* do not want to be held accountable if you get sharp pokey glass bits in your soft squishy eyeballs - that would NOT be fun! Dust mask wouldn't be a bad idea either...

Decide if you want to hang your glass diagonally (one hole) or square (two holes). Measure and mark, if desired, the location for your hole(s), then proceed to use your rotary tool on a medium setting with light-medium pressure. Grind, lift, blow away dust, and repeat until you have a divot about halfway through your glass. Flip your glass over and make a matching divot on the other side. Your goal is to have a very small hole with rounded edges for smoothness. Repeat on the next corner for square-mounting.

If you are simply propping your piece, skip this step.

Step 3: Securing Your Image

Now that you have chosen how your glass will be positioned, secure your image how you like it (usually centered, but hey - it's your art piece!), making sure to have the image towards the glass, as you will be looking at it through the glass.

Tape the image down securely. You do not want it to move.

Step 4: Begin to Etch

Pick a spot, and start! It is your choice how detailed you want to be. I would suggest starting simple!

Follow along the lines of your drawing slowly and steadily, using a rotary tool with the same tip as shown previously. You can always go back and make your lines thicker.

The easiest way to see how you are doing is to tilt your glass so you are looking at the reflection of a light. Do this when you think you are finished to make sure you haven't missed any areas, then remove the paper from the back of the glass. At this point you can go over any lines again, making sure edges meet how you want them to, and adding any freehand touches you want. Don't forget to sign and date your artwork!

Step 5: Finishing

Thread wire through your hanger hole, twisting ends together well.

Polish off all those fingerprints and hang it up!

Alternative ideas - Try it on the underside of plates, or on the sides of bowls or mugs!



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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    I have learned to not assume anything. You are using a rotary tool to also do the etching? You did say in the hanging hole steps to use the rotary but no mention in the etching step. What bits do you use? How much pressure should you use?

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you for pointing that out! Yes, you use the same tool and tip for the etching, still using light to medium pressure. I have updated the step for clarity. =)


    Reply 1 year ago

    What is the red attachment on your rotary. Is it a guide or protection for the fingers. LOL, at first I thought it was something to make it like a hand held router. I've just about got all other projects out of the way so I can give this a go, can't wait! Thanks again for posting this.


    2 years ago

    Nice instructables! I like the red grip you have on your rotery tool. Came it along with the tool or can you buy it some where?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Good eye! I used my library's 3D printer and a file from Thingiverse to print it out. Not sure if you have access to a 3D printer, but if so you can make one too!

    Fuzzy Monkey

    2 years ago

    Awesome job! Need to try this! (Once I get a dremel)


    2 years ago

    That looks really good :) I like the cup with the butterfly!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you! It's been my mom's favourite tea mug for probably a decade now =)