How to Etch Glass
If you want to learn how to etch glass, you have come to the right place.
This page will give you some information on how to etch glass.
For glass fusing purposes, this procedure will need to be done on dichroic glass.
Etching can be done on plain glass, but if heated in a kiln, you will lose the design.
So, for glass fusing purposes, this procedure needs to be done on dichroic glass.
Dichroic glass comes with either a clear backing or a black backing.
This process can be done on either type of dichroic glass.
If using the style that has a clear backing, you would need to place a piece of colored glass as a backing for the design to show up after firing.
Utilizing the variety of dichroic glass with a black backing presents a dramatic effect.
Either style can be capped with clear, or fused without a cap.
Glass Etching Designs
The first step in how to etch glass is to obtain a pattern.
A simple way to do glass etching is to free hand etch a design.
This can be done by just observing a design that you like and then just free hand etch it on to the glass, or use a permanent marker to draw your design.
You could also find some simple patterns and transfer the design onto the dichroic side of the glass using some carbon paper.
Once you have the pattern traced, go over the design with a permanent marker.
Another way to obtain a design is by purchasing some stencils, or a kit that has all the supplies needed for the process.
These come is quite a variety of designs and themes.
Most of these stencils are small and are fantastic for accents, or making jewelry.
You could also try making your own stencils.
Trace a pattern onto some contact paper, masking tape, or try other types of tape.
Cut out the design with an Exacto knife or razor blade.
Here are a couple of sites online that do custom stencils.
Glass Etching Secrets - This site is packed full of helpful information about etching glass, and they will customize stencils for all your etching needs..
Now that you have a pattern, lets look at the different procedures that can be used to learn how to etch glass.
Glass Etching Techniques
Etching Cream Method
Supplies:Dichroic on black glassRub-on stencils for Armor Etch or Red Sharpie felt tip penEtching cream (Armour Etch)Rubber glovesBaking soda and waterPaper towel or lint free towel
You can either draw a design on the dichroic side of the glass with a Sharpie pen, or apply a stencil.
Try both methods to find out which technique works best for your projects.
Using a Sharpie permanent marker really opens up the creative potentials.
Any design you can imagine can be drawn onto the glass.
The permanent ink in the Sharpie acts like a resist.
The red marker seems to give the best coverage, while the black one seems to be weaker.
If using a Sharpie, the parts that are covered with the pen ink will remain after the etching process.
Completely cover any area that you don’t want etched with the pen. Allow the ink to dry completely. I have also heard that Elmer’s Glue and fingernail polish will act like a resist.
The rub-on stencils are really easy to use and help to speed up the etching procedure.
There are also reusable stencils that are sticky and can be used for this process.
If using ones with fine details watch that the image doesn’t move.
Burnish the stencil firmly with a wooden stick to the dichroic side of the glass.
Mask off any glass that is not going to be etched.
Once your piece is ready, put on the rubber gloves.
Always wear rubber gloves when using any etching cream.
Brush on the etching cream.
Allow the piece to stand for approximately 5 minutes.
To obtain a really good smooth, the cream needs to be worked while on the glass.
Brush the cream in one direction and then in a couple of minutes, brush it in another direction.
It doesn’t need to be brushed constantly, just every couple of minutes.
If the piece is still not etched after 5 minutes, try leaving the cream on for about 10 minutes.
Etching cream can be reused, so scrape off any cream before rinsing and place it back inside the jar.
The dichroic will dissolve fairly quickly, so keep an eye on the project.
The quality colors of dichroic appear to take a lengthy time to etch.
Place the glass in water and rinse extremely well.
The water will help to neutralize the cream and loosen stencil.
Neutralize the glass further by placing it in a solution of baking soda and water.
This process will halt the continued etching of the glass.
Give the piece a final rinse.
Dry the piece, or allow it to air day, cap the piece with clear glass and fire.
Supplies:DremelDiamond bitDichroic on black glassSharpie or stencil
This is my preferred method.
I don’t like using all the chemicals, and I have been etching for years.
This is the method I learned when I first learned how to etch glass.
Just use a Sharpie to draw on your design, attach the diamond bit on the drill and etch away.
Some individuals prefer to keep the piece in water.
This is to extend the life of the drill bit.
A finer line can be achieved with a small drill bit.
Wash off the residue in water, dry the glass, cap the piece with clear glass if desired, and fuse.
Experiment with these different methods on how to etch glass and as always have fun!
Return from this page to one of the following pages:
Fused Glass Projects
How to Etch Glass to Glass Fusing Made Easy