DIY Gifts in the DMC - Etched Glass

Photo of two glasses etched with custom designs.

Need a DIY gift idea? This one is simple, inexpensive, and can be completed in one day. Please note that the Silhouette Cameo is only available when the Digital Media Center is staffed. Please check the calendar for staffed hours to plan your visit.



    Screenshot of the design in the Silhouette Studio software.
  1. Choose a design. The designs that work best are high contrast and don't have a lot of fussy small shapes. There are no gradations of shade with glass etching cream, so make a design in black and white. Text is an easy option for personalized objects from monograms to dates. Original drawings can be scanned and digitized in the DMC. Or, if you aren't an artist, there are many creative commons clipart designs online.
  2. Import your graphics into the Silhouette Studio software (available in the DMC), and resize to fit your glass object. The more curved your surface, the smaller your design elements need to be to avoid looking warped. Staff in the DMC will assist you in cutting out your design in the vinyl with the Cameo.

That's all you have to do in the DMC! The rest of the process is completed at home.

    Photo of the glass being cleaned with rubbing alcohol.
  1. Clean your glass object with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils from fingerprints. You'll get a much more even etch with a clean surface.
  2. Photo of the Stencil being cut from the vinyl sheet.
  3. Cut your vinyl stencils from the sheet, leaving as much excess around the design as possible.
  4. Photo of the vinyl being applied to the glass.
  5. Peel the vinyl from the backing and carefully apply to your glass, smoothing out air bubbles as you go. The vinyl can strecth with too much handling, so try not to reposition too many times.
  6. Photo showing the inner vinyl pieces being applied.
  7. Any interior shapes (such as the centers of letters or the bager's nose stripe) will need to be peeled off and sepearately applied. Keep your stencil in front of you to guide your placement.
  8. Image of the full stencil applied and burnished down.
  9. Double-check fro air bubbles and carefully push them out. Burnish the edges of the vinyl to make sure they are completely adhered to the surface of the glass. I used the back of my thumbnail to do this. (I also missed a spot at the badger's tail? Can you see it?)
  10. Photo of the stencil with painter's tape applied around the edge.
  11. Optional: If you don't have a lot of excess vinyl at the edge of your design, you may want to add some painter's tape to make sure that you won't get etching cream where you don't want it.
  12. If your object is very round, such as the glasses I used, set your object on a folded towel to keep it from rolling away as you work.
  13. Photo of etching cream being applied.
  14. Apply etching cream in a thick layer with a paintbrush that you don't mind destroying. For a double-sided design, you'll have to do one side at a time. The etching cream is not viscous enough to stay in place on a vertical surface. Important! The etching cream is an acid. Use in a well-ventilated area and do not breathe in the fumes!
  15. Image of the etching cream bottle.
  16. Follow the directions on your package for the maximum time allowed for etching. Mine had a range of times based on the type of vinyl, and I was able to use the maximum time without the vinyl disintegrating.
  17. Photo of the brush lightly moving the etching cream around.
  18. While the cream is processing, move it around lightly with your paintbrush to ensure even etching.
  19. Photo of the glass being rinsed under running water.
  20. Wipe off the cream with a paper towel or rag, and then rinse the glass under running water.
  21. Photo of stencil being removed.
  22. Remove the vinyl stencil, and then rinse again. You may want to clean again with rubbing alcohol to remove an residual adhesive.
  23. Dry the glass and repeat the etching steps for the other side if you have a two-sided design.
Photo of the finished etched design.

Enjoy your unique gift!