Developed in the mid-1800s, acid-etched glass became popular for its ability to shield patrons in drinking establishments from view while letting in natural light.
Victorian and Edwardian homes quickly adopted the look, and today, glass etching designs appear on windows, mirrors, even glassware. As the chemicals needed to achieve this frosted effect have become less toxic, etching glass has turned into an ideal project for DIYers looking to personalize their homes.
What You Need to Etch Glass
For a DIY glass etching project, all you need is etching cream, a stencil, and a few other easy-to-find items, says etching artist Sydney St. James of Etchworld.com.
Before etching, wash your surface to remove dust and fingerprints.
Simple Green Naturals Glass and Surface Care, about $4; Simple Green
Mop up the cleaner with microfiber; it will help eliminate residue that could keep the stencil from adhering to the glass.
For a big project, opt for a peel-and-stick vinyl pattern, which is easy to reposition.
Here, we chose a custom stencil to create a scroll design. From $5; Etchworld.com
Use a smoothing tool, such as a plastic square or an old gift card, to affix the stencil and eliminate air bubbles.
Cover any exposed areas around the stencil with adhesive-backed contact paper to protect them from the etching cream.
About $7 per roll at hardware stores.
Because etching cream is made with ammonium bifluoride, which can irritate the skin, you should wear dishwashing or latex gloves.
About $8 for 100; amazon.com.
Carefully spread this over the open areas of the stencil, moving away from the edges to keep the cream from bleeding underneath.
Armour Etch, about $6 for 3 ounces; Etchworld.com
Apply the etching cream in a thick coat using a soft-bristle artist's brush in a size that works for your design.
About $9 at art supply stores.
Dip this into warm water and use to rinse the cream off the glass and into a plastic bucket. For the best results, work from top to bottom.
About $2 at hardware stores.
Neutralize the water from the cleanup with baking soda, then test with this indicator to make sure it's safe to toss.
about $8.00; amazon.com