Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Etch Glass Part 2

Earlier this week I posted part 1 on how to etch your own glass using a simple paper punch stencil technique. Since I covered the basic steps last time, my project today is a little more intricate. But the technique can be adjusted to make a piece that's more or less detailed depending on what you're comfortable with.

I made the "stencil" for this all over floral pattern using nothing more than a craft knife, masking tape and a permanent marker.

Not only is it cheap on materials but you can create something completely custom instead of having to use a pre-made vinyl stencil.

I started by covering this piece of glass completely with masking tape.

I wrapped the tape around the glass horizontally, overlapping the seams by about half an inch to be sure the tape can't be torn away during cutting (which would expose the glass to acid in areas I might not want etched).

At this point I started to draw a design onto the tape with a permanent marker.

Alternatively: If you aren't comfortable freehand drawing your design you could cover the outside of glass with clear vinyl. Place a pattern inside the glass and trace it onto the vinyl with a marker.

Once I was happy with the pattern I began cutting with the craft knife. Again I wore surgical gloves to keep the oils from my hands off the clean glass.

Tip: The sharper the blade the better. Don't worry about scratching the glass, you want a sharp blade to cut the tape easily. Also you'll be less likely to hurt yourself if you use a sharp blade because the knife won't tear thru the tape and skip off the surface- it will slice thru with more control.

Be careful at this point (not only because you're using s sharp blade) but because what you cut is what you get.

If you do make a mistake you can always retape that section.

Again you can make this as detailed (or not) as you want.

And remember that you're etched piece will be the reverse of your stencil. Here the cut areas are open, once etched they will be the frosted areas.

Etching this way takes advantage of the Armour Etch's strengths and hides it's weaknesses. Since it's a cream it can be put onto very specific areas but the manufacturer recommends etching areas smaller than 1 inch by 1 inch. Larger areas won't etch evenly. If I wanted to leave the branches and flowers clear and etch the rest of the glass I'd need to use an acid bath. (you can by acid bath from this same company).

This is a pretty big piece of glass, and I won't lie. I'm a detail person- I liked cutting all these little buds and branches out. But I'm not a patient person- filling in all these little areas with the etching cream (while wearing gloves and goggles and sitting on my front steps) seemed pretty tedious. I was hurrying because you have to wash the entire piece off at the same time and I wanted to ensure even etching all the way around- but it still seemed to take forever.

Etched, rinsed and cleaned I think it makes a nice addition to the side table in the living room.

It also makes a good candle holder.

Thanks for reading, and I hope after seeing how easy it can be that you give glass etching a try.

Have a great day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Etch Glass- Part 1

Etching glass is easier than you might think. The techniques aren't hard and the materials are relatively cheap. But I'm warning you- it's a bit addicting! Once you try it, you'll be etching every piece of glass in site!

I was first introduced to etching back in art school and have been making pieces ever since using the same product. It's not a commercial for them... it's really the only product I've ever seen in the craft store to do this with, and it's what I know.

Armour Etch is an acid etch, which works just like it sounds and acid essentially eats away at just enough of the surface of the glass to frost it permanently. This product is a cream and is sold at most craft stores. (I believe the same company also makes an acid bath that you dip glass into- but the cream has always been perfect for the types of projects I do.)

Tip: There is also another method of frosting patterns into glass called sand blasting. It works better for larger areas and produces a deeper etch. I've only ever used the acid cream so I don't have a basis for comparison... but If you're interested in sandblasting I know there are relatively inexpensive starter kits for hobby crafters all the way up to very expensive
machines for professionals.

The easiest way to start an etching project is to use a stencil.

You can buy glass stencils, or make your own using a die cut machine and some vinyl. But I think the very easiest (and cheapest) way to try glass etching out is to use something you probably already have laying around your craft room-

A paper punch and some tape.

This makes a perfect stencil for a beginner project, with barely any investment.

I'm getting a jump on Halloween (yes... I really do start Halloween in August) so I'm using a spider design on a small "potion" bottle.

To make the stencil I apply strips of making tape to wax paper and put it into my puncher.

You'll get something that doesn't look too clean, but don't worry! Carefully peel the wax paper and tape apart and you'll usually find the tape has punched just fine.

Now apply your stencil to your clean glass. Once I've cleaned the glass I actually wear surgical gloves while handling the glass at every stage (until using the acid at which point I wear heavy rubber gloves).

Make sure your stencil is stuck down really well. I usually rub the edges extra with something hard like the back of a paint brush to be sure they're stuck down really well.

At this point you're ready to etch.

Tip: There are lot's of directions on the manufacturers container about how to safely handle this product. Remember it's an acid- I always where thick rubber gloves and eye protection. Please take working with this product seriously and follow the manufacturer's guidelines.

Use a brush to apply the cream to the areas you want to etch. Even using a thick coat of the cream it still goes a really long way. You can make many, many, many projects from just one bottle.

Now you wait for the acid to do it's work. This is where I've found a little experimenting is needed. Personally, I haven't had good results leaving this product the amount of time suggested. I don't know why, but I always have to leave it on longer (Sometimes up to 16 minutes). I've tried using different cleaners on the glass and that doesn't seem to make a difference. (I always make a test piece though and try etching swatches at different times, starting with the suggested time and increasing from there.)

Once the cream has been on long enough, rinse and clean according to the manufacturer's directions and you'll have a gorgeous permanently etched piece of glass!

I hope you give this a try.

I have another project I'm working on using a different method for creating an etched design. I'll be posting that later this week.

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