Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Glass Etching - 4 Lessons Learned

When my husband and I decided to build our own home, I know I wanted to capture an organic piece of the land before it became a house.  So we collected a bottle of dirt from the lot to save for... you know, memories.  When the idea came to me to etch the glass of the bottle, I didn't realize the small difficulties I would experience.  I mean, really, how hard could it be?!

Below are 4 pieces of wisdom about glass etching I feel everyone should know about this very easy project.

1.  If the item you plan to etch is a container, do not fill the container prior to etching.  
This seems pretty standard operating procedure but really.  While the idea of etching occurred to me after filling the bottle {I get a little slack, right?}, I should have prepared by emptying the bottle before "Go" time.  Why?  You need to clean your piece to remove any oils or dust that may be sitting on the surface.  Because our container was a cork top, it would have been very difficult to not have a water/moisture catastrophe.  Instead we had to empty the bottle, clean the inside and outside, and wait for the whole thing to dry.  Very time consuming - be prepared.

2.  The package directions are NOT descriptive enough.  Do your research.
The mere fact that you are reading this means that you are interested in glass etching and are already doing your research.  Good job!  It's very important to learn about the different types of stencils and best tools.  Why?  The packages for stencils tend to oversimplified the directions and therefore, you can actually apply them incorrectly.  Glass etching is a very easy project but you must know the basics to achieve the best results.  For instance, one-time use, or water soluble, stencils, must be placed, rubbed on to the glass using their "application tool" {aka a popsicle stick} and then the plastic cover will COME OFF {like applying a temporary tattoo}.  Do not layer or place all of your stencils prior to removing the plastic.  This will destroy your design and/or ruin your stencils. For the record, the "take the plastic off" part was not outlined on the package.

3.  Be patient! 
Why?  Rinsing off the etching cream prematurely will cause the etching to be faint and there's no way to fix this if you use disposable stencils.  If you are using the reusable stencils, you can fully dry your piece, do your best to realign your design and give it another go, but there are no guarantees.  Do it right the first time and be patient.

4.  Not all glass is created equal.
Even after doing the research, applying everything properly and being patient, you still may not get desired results.  Why?  Not all glass is optimized for glass etching.  Some glass products have anti-scratch or reinforcement coating that make it nearly impossible to etch.  So no, you are not a craft failure - you just didn't have the right materials.  I have found that the less expensive the glass container, the harder it is to etch - which is counter-intuitive.  Also, the thicker the glass, the harder it is to etch.  Do not automatically think "Oh, I'll just leave the cream on longer."  Prolonged contact may cause the cream to migrate on the underside of your stencil and skew your design.
Where is my design?  
In person, you can see it if you hold the bottle juuust right.

I have yet to revisit this project and experience success, but you bet your bottom dollar there will be a detailed tutorial when I do.

Best of luck to you in your etching!

No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!

Blogging tips