Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Glass Etching for Gifts

I did very little DIY for this holiday season due to work and travel stresses this year, but the one project I did make time for is something I actually started a year ago. 

Yep, you heard me.  A year ago I got this great idea for unique personalized gifts that I could make and then give to lots of people in my life.  So I promptly bought supplies to make about 20 of them.  And then said supplies sat in our storage space (whoa-za, that's a lot of s's!) for a whole year before I finally got around to enacting my brilliant plan.  But they turned out so well, I want to share them with you in case they spark your creative thinking a year from now.    Admission: technically I used these as holiday gifts, but I think personalized etched glass would make great wedding gifts, wedding party gifts, or even wedding favors.

No one believes me when I say this project is pretty easy (although time-consuming), but I will say it again because it's true.  Relatively speaking (compared to what, I don't know) this project is pretty easy.  All you need is:

Some Kind of Stencil Material  (This time I used adhesive vinyl by Cricut, which comes in a variety of colors.)

Glass Etching Cream  (Readily available from your local Michael's or other craft store.)

A Small Cheap Paintbrush 

And a Glass Item  (I used oil/vinegar bottles, but there's a lot of glass out there to choose from - go crazy!)

Because I own a digital cutter, I simply chose a font I liked for initials and ampersands and then laid out all the necessary letters/symbols in my digital cut file.  If you don't have a digital cutter, never fear!  You can easily print the letters and then trace the shapes onto the vinyl (consider using a Sharpie marker through regular copy paper, or just any ink that will bleed through) and cut them out by hand with an Xacto knife.  Takes a little more time that way, but you get the same end result.

Now the ingenious property of adhesive vinyl is the...  (feel the suspense building)...  adhesive!  Simply stick down your stencil wherever you want your etching to go and rub it all over to be sure it completely adheres around all the letter/symbol edges. 

Once it's laid out the way you want it (the adhesive is forgiving, so you can gently stick and re-stick a few times until you get it just right), you then just follow the directions on the package of etching cream.  My own process was to brush on the cream first, making sure to brush in all directions inside the stencil. 

Then I heaped on the etching cream until I achieved a thick layer.  The package says to leave it on for about 5 minutes, but I found that extra time doesn't seem to harm the glass or the stencil.  Just be sure to leave everything on for the same amount of time if you're doing a pair of items like I was, otherwise the final depth/color of the etching could be different.

After the right amount of time has passed, I put each item under running water until most of the cream had washed away.  I then gently peeled up the stencil so that I could use it again on the next item.  (I found that the adhesive was sufficient for two etchings, but I'm not sure it would have made it for a third.)  When the stencil was completely removed, I washed the whole thing with soap and water and set them aside to dry.

Et Voila!  In just a few hours you too can churn out an assembly line of personalized, elegant gifts for your loved ones.

Do you have any ideas for other glass items you could etch?  What would you etch onto them? 

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