Since getting the Martha Stewart Craft Encyclopedia, all I can think about is etching glass. Obsessed. Everything clear I see begs the question “can I etch that?” (it’s a little weird when I say it out loud in a store, trust me). Within a week,  I had bought some simple juice glasses and a simple bowl for a few bucks at a local junk shop (few bucks : brooklyn junk shop :: 10 cents : junk shop anywhere else in the world), but two major issues stood between me and etching glass. Issues that took months to resolve. Because I have a life. And, much as I’d like it to be, etching glass isn’t #1 on the priority list.

Issue 1: Etching Cream, the only thing you really need to etch glass (besides the glass) is not for sale in any store in New York City. I tried a few places before I started some online research to find a store that carried it. And it turns out that this is not a conspiracy to drive me crazy, it’s to keep it out of the hands of graffiti writers who put it in shoe polish bottles and tag windows on subway cars and busses. Kids, man… they ruin everything. So, thank you, Internet, for that info, and thank you also for having stores that will send etching cream to me in this God-forsaken “No-etch-zone” that I live in.

And, Issue 2: Design. What do I etch onto this glass??? I knew it had to be something I could cut out of contact paper, and I knew it had to be awesome. Tall order. One day, after too much time had been spent obsessing, I said “forget awesome, it just has to happen.” I thought about doing a stripe, or dots I could punch out, but, I didn’t want to have to measure all that out… I just wanted to try it. And cutting Contact paper into anything but strips is hard with an X-acto knife, I’m sorry… So I just cut a bunch of strips, and then I laid them on the bowl in a random intersecting pattern that I thought looked pretty.

So, after months, I’m around both issues. I’m all ready to go. I’m itching to do some etching. … And then I read the instructions on the back of the etching cream container. It’s toxic like Britney Spears and it says it must be used outdoors or in a well ventilated space. Not in my little railroad apartment… And since I didn’t think playing with glass on a 3rd floor fire escape was a great idea, I had to wait until I went to the folks house. Went there last weekend and, finally … I can say that I’ve etched glass.


It’s really not hard.

You put the contact paper on where you don’t want the glass to be etched (I had wood-grained contact paper in the house…), you apply the cream, you let it sit for about 15 minutes, you wash it off, and that’s about it.




I did learn a few things for next time. I’ll be careful not to remove and re-apply the contact paper too many times – the cream seemed to seap in where I did that, and it gave me a blurry line in those spots. Also, next time I will apply the cream more evenly, a little thicker, and with a little pressure. I have some ‘weak spots’ on the bowl, where it doesn’t look as etched, and I think that will solve that next time.

And hopefully next time Mom will let me use her new Cricut to die-cut some designs so that Issue #2 isn’t such an issue. I hope one of her cartridges has a pig design… pigs are pretty awesome on anything.


0 thoughts on “The Itch to Etch

  1. E. says:

    O.k. “little a”. I’ve got it. The itch that is. I am totally looking around for anything that looks like it is etch worthy. What wonderful Christmas gifts these would make, I tell myself. I think I can actually do this.
    I have been inspired. Thank you for having the want.
    I can only imagine what Suz and Vinnie’s wedding gift will be. As I’ve said before, you both are simply, totally and uniquely Amazing!!!

    Keep it coming.

    Love, E.

  2. Bob Bosler says:

    “To itch is Human . . . to etch is Divine!”

    Alyssa . . .

    Creative, Beautiful and Useful etching project.

    I have used contact paper in the past, and then I moved on to sign vinyl for my etching stencils. The vinyl adhesive allowed etching more than once and would hold lines for a clean sharp etch. BUT . . . vinyl is for outdoor signage, so the adhesive is very aggressive. After several etching projects and spending a lot of time removing the vinyl stencils from my glass etching projects I went on a search for a better stencil-resist-masking material. I found the etchall etchmask. The etchall etchmask is a temporary vinyl used in the vehicle repainting detailing industry. The etchmask adhesive holds my stencil design lines even if I etch my glass project two or three times. And . . . the best thing about the etchall etchmask is that is peels off the glass very easily after my etching is completed.

    Pigs . . . I know a lady in Florida who has pre-cut animal stencils that can be used for etching glass or mirrors. Try And . . . for that cute PIG stencil look for DB2-373 and/or DB2-374:

    I am always “itching to etch” too!!!


    • Alyssa says:

      Thanks, Bob! What a delightful and informative comment…

      I was just thinking the other day about some etching projects for summer, and now that I know how to upgrade my materials and design possibilities, I just can’t wait to scratch that itch (and that glass)! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and resources.

      Is there a particular brand of etching cream you’ve had more success with than others?


  3. etchinguy says:

    Alyssa . . .

    Like you I scratch that itch . . . BUT when it comes to glass etching I don’t scratch it . . . I prefer the etchall etching creme to do my etching. I have etched small projects (1 inch x 1 inch) up to large areas (24 inches x 60 inches) with the etchall etching creme.

    Going back to the comments on the stencil materials, I found out that the etchall etchmask can be used to cut stencils in the new small desktop digital cutters such as the Graphtec, Silhouette, and Cricut.