The following 101, on making your own etched glasses, comes from Toni, Farm Aid's ace program assistant and a HOMEGROWN member. Thanks so much, Toni, and please keep the good ideas simmering!
For Farm Aid’s annual secret Santa exchange, we each pick a coworker’s name out of a hat. There’s only one catch: Our gifts have to be homemade. This Christmas one of my roommates already had plans to make etched glasses for all of his friends, with each glass featuring a picture of the recipient’s face. I decided to steal his idea and make farm-themed glasses.
The project was easier than I expected, and you can definitely fool your friends into thinking you’re artistic. You can use the following technique on any glass plate or dish or drinking vessel, and the best part is the results are dishwasher safe. Bottoms up and happy giving!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» Razor blade or sharp knife (I used an X-ACTO knife.)
» Drinking glasses or whatever item/s you want to etch
» Etching cream (You can find this at some craft stores or on Amazon.)
» Simple black-and-white images
» Clear plastic tape
WHAT TO DO
1. First decide what images you’d like to etch onto the glasses. It’s easiest if the designs are already two-tone. (Keep in mind that it might be difficult to cut out thin lines.) Below is one design I used; you can also download it as a PDF.
2. Print out the designs at the size you want them to appear on the glasses. Once you have your printout, use clear plastic tape to attach the picture to the glass in the place where you want the etching to appear.
3. Once you’ve secured your image to the glass, put a layer of tape over the entire picture. It is important to do this carefully so that no bubbles or gaps form in the tape.
4. Think of this stencil as a negative image: The bits you cut out (those blue parts in the photo above) will show up frosted, while the bits you leave behind (everything that's white in the photo above) will be clear. Use the razor blade to cut out the sections that you want to appear frosted. Avoid the thinnest lines until you get the hang of the process. Patience is key!
5. When you're done cutting out your design, carefully peel away all of the remaining paper, as well as the tape in the sections that you cut out (that is, the areas that you want to be etched). It is important not to peel or rip the tape in the sections that you want to remain clear.
6. Use the paintbrush to paint the etching cream onto the glass. Be careful not to get this on your skin. If you do, just wash it off right away. You can be generous with the amount of etching cream you put on the glass. I would recommend aiming for a quarter-inch layer, completely covering the sections that you want to appear frosted. Since the cream will etch only glass, don’t worry if you get cream on the parts of the image that are still covered with tape.
7. Let the glasses sit for at least 30 minutes.
8. Rinse off all of the cream using cold water.
9. Peel away the image and all remaining tape. The frosted section will appear fairly faint until it dries, so don’t worry if the effect is less dramatic than you expected.
10. Wash the glasses thoroughly. Don’t worry: Your designs are dishwasher safe!
11. Give the glasses to friends and family—or keep them for yourself!
Got a question for Toni or links to images that would make great designs? Post them below and keep the conversation rolling! If you’ve mastered the concept of reverse images, you might consider carving your own potato stamps. You might also be interested in 101s on making wine bottle wind chimes or t-shirt tote bags, and don’t miss Weeknight Wonders, a roundup of 17 HOMEGROWN gifts you can make in a single evening. Got another project to share? Why not write a 101 about it? You can always find more things to make, craft, plant, grow, cook, preserve, and etch in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
ALL PHOTOS: TONI TIEMANN