How to Make Custom Etched Drinking Glasses – Using Your Kids’ Drawings

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Guess what? You don’t need a Dremel tool or etching machine to etch glass!

You know those super cute custom-etched canning jars, glasses, and glass baking dishes on pinterest and etsy?

Many of them were probably made with etching cream.

I love this stuff, you guys! Your imagination is the limit with it! You can go any direction: classy, quirky, fun, elegant, or something else entirely.

Etched glasses make awesome DIY gifts.

You can personalize a glass or set of glasses for your favorite teacher to celebrate the end of the school year.

You can make a one-of-a-kind Father’s Day gift for your husband or dad. Maybe some custom designed etched bar glasses?

I really want to use etching cream to monogram the bottom of my glass baking dishes! So many possibilities!

The very first project I made with etching cream was a variety of custom drinking glasses to give extended family for Christmas – and all the designs were drawn by my kids. The project turned out so much better than I expected, and we had a great time.

(Warning: Etching cream will burn skin. Do not allow children to use the etching cream, and do not leave the project to rest in reach of young children. When you use the etching cream wear gloves and take care to keep it off your skin and off surfaces others may touch.)

How to Etch Glass with Etching Cream

Materials:

  • Plain glass drinking glasses (we bought a box at Dollar General)
  • Rubbing Alchohol
  • Paper towels
  • Etching cream (we used _)
  • Cheap paintbrushes
  • Disposable gloves

If you’re using precut stencils:

  • Flexible stencils and stencil adhesive

If you’re making your own stencils:

  • Contact paper (a dark color is helpful)
  • Carbon paper
  • Stylus, pencils and/or chopsticks
  • Optional: copier/scanner
  • Plain paper (Thin computer paper is good if you have a copier. Otherwise, use tracing paper.)
  • Pens & pencils
  • Masking tape (painter’s tape or drafting tape is best)
  • X-acto knife
  • Self-healing cutting mat
The plain glasses we etched for our project.
We found plain drinking glasses at Dollar General. Smooth glass work best.

Note: If you have a Silhouette or other craft cutter you could use that to cut designs from vinyl and use the reverse for this project, instead of fooling with the contact paper. I think it was worth it to use the contact paper and transfer the boys’ drawings.

Making Stencils from Contact Paper

I assigned recipients to the boys and told the boys to draw a picture, artistically write each person’s name, or create some other image or pattern that would represent the recipient well.

1) Draw your image(s). Use thick, dark lines for best results. Permanent marker works great. If you don’t have a copier or scanner, then draw your images on tracing paper. (I like a heavier tracing paper like this.)

2) To make your life much easier, use a copier or scanner to print mirror images of the drawings. Make extra photocopies of the drawings in case you mess up and need to start over.

If you don’t have access to a copier or scanner, then hopefully your drawing is on tracing paper. Carefully fill in the drawing on the backside of the paper as needed until the mirror image is clear.

3) Cut a piece of contact paper and a piece of carbon paper, each slightly larger than your image. Lay the contact paper face down on the counter. Lay the carbon paper on the backing of the contact paper. Lay your image on top of the carbon paper. Secure the layers with masking tape

4) Use a pencil or chopstick to trace the image, pressing firmly to transfer the image to the contact paper backing.

5) Once the drawing is transfered, use your Exact-o knife to cut out the areas you want to etch.

6) Set aside all your stencils

Setting up

1) Protect your work area with paper or another covering. Get out all your materials.

2) Put a little rubbing alcohol on the corner of a folded paper towel and use that to wipe down the outside of the clean glasses you plan to etch. Set the glasses aside to dry thoroughly, and be careful not to get fingerprints on them.

Etching the Glass with Etching Cream

1) Working with one stencil and one glass at a time, carefully remove the contact paper from areas of the drawing that you wanted to be etched, and then apply the remaining Contact paper to the glass. Use a chopstick and/or your fingers to press down all the cut edges tightly to the glass.

2) Put on your gloves. (Etching cream burns are no joke! Don’t let the kiddos mess with it.) Use the paintbrush to apply etching cream liberally over the opening of the stencils.

3) Allow the etching cream to set for 15 minutes, or according to the instructions on the package of your particular brand of etching cream.

4) After the setting period, (with your gloves on!), rinse the etching cream off the stencils/glasses under running water. Remove the Contact paper, and rinse the glasses completely. Set them all aside to dry.

It was sure difficult to photograph the finished product! We all love how they turned out!

To wrap these, I inserted Christmas tissue paper in each glass along with a slip we typed up in Publisher which gave the Artist’s name and care instructions.

I then wrapped each glass in tissue paper with the “floof” at the top and a gift tag tied on with a ribbon.

Etched glasses are a simple, fun homemade gift idea. They make a practical gift with a sentimental touch.