Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Very Etchy

It's been a while since I've found time to get my craft on! Oh, how I've missed it. This is a project I've been excited about tackling ever since I saw these etched glass canisters on Pinterest.

Turns out all you need to make these beauts is some glass etching cream, and trusty Michael's carries it. I actually bought the cream a month or so ago so I don't remember the exact price, but it was something like $30 bucks. Crazy! I'd never go to Michael's unless I knew I had a good coupon, so I got it for 40% off which made it more like $18. Yowza.

John and I registered for these gorgeous glass canisters from Crate and Barrel, but I saw that they were about to run out so I bought them because I couldn't bear to not have them. I've planned to put rice, flour, and sugar in them, and they were begging to have labels etched onto them.

Sherry and John (oh yeah, we're on a first name basis) etched glass canisters in their new book and suggest using sticker paper to constrain your design. I zipped over to Office Depot to grab some and came home to work out the letter sizing. After printing "sugar," "rice," and "flour" out in different sizes, I found the one that worked best and then printed it on the sticker paper in RiotSquad size 130.

I thought I was ready to get started...

...but when I went to read the directions on the etching cream I realized that... there were none. There were lots of warnings about the cream burning my skin, eyes, and airways, but no info on how to apply it, how long to leave it on, or anything else. Just CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! So while I was ready to proceed with CAUTION! I had no idea how to actually proceed aside from wearing gloves, goggles, and holding my breath.

Google took me to the brand's website which said to leave it on for 1 minute. I decided to do a little test spot on the bottom to see how it would work, using a little paint brush to dab it on...

...and I got nada. The directions said to do it in a well ventilated area, but it was cold outside so I did it in my kitchen and guess what... I didn't smell a thing, pass out, or burn my airways. Then I did another test and left it on for 5 minutes which got me visible but very very faint etching.

I tried again and waited for 10 minutes which was more visible but still not ideal. I was pretty frustrated by this point, so I decided to go forward anyway and plan to leave it on for 15 minutes and hope for the best. Next came the tricky part of exacto-knifing out the letters. It was tedious, but I wanted to do it right so the font would actually have some character.

Once I had flour cut out, I stuck it on the canister, painted on the etching cream, set my timer for 15 minutes, and started carving out sugar. 15 minutes later I washed the cream off with luke warm water and peeled the sticker off. I could actually see some results! They seemed faint, but once it started drying the etching became more clear. 

Repeat for sugar and rice...

And ta-da! We now have a little family of etched glass canisters, and I love them.

I want to dance around with them... but they're fragile so I'm too afraid to. Sadly there's nowhere to put them currently so they're back in the pile of can't-wait-to-put-this-somewhere-once-we-get-the-keys, which by the way is in only 17 days!!!! 

Have any of you ever etched stuff? Do you have any ideas of other fun things to etch? Now I have this printable sticker material and it's making me wonder what fun things I could do with it...


  1. Were you happy with how distinct the etching came out? If you were to do another etching project would you keep the etching cream on longer than 15 minutes? I'm planning on etching mason jars as Christmas presents (How Southern) and was planning on following your steps.

    1. I feel like something was strange with the etching cream I used because I've done etching again since then, and it worked better. I wish I had been more distinct on those canisters, but leaving it on longer wouldn't have done it I don't think because it just seemed to be weak. Maybe it was old? I'd suggest doing a test spot on the bottom like I did to figure out how long to leave it on, and hopefully the cream you use will actually work. I did it again at a friend's house and it only took 5 minutes to get really really distinct images.

  2. So I finally got around to doing my project and I had the same problem you did. I wonder if it was because I didn't wipe the area down with alcohol first. I used the Martha Stewart brand etching cream, which I thought would be a safe bet but the results were not want I wanted. Oh well, I'll chalk that one up to crafting experience.

    1. I kind of wonder if the cream was old? Because I've done this project one other time and got really clear results, but it was a different cream. So, could be brand, could be age. Ahh the wonders of DIY.