Create Your Own Stencil for Glass Etching

Holiday table setting with etched glassware.
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Artwork to be patterned, or pens and paper
Transparent contact paper
Transparent tape
Heavy-duty craft scissors
Glass etching cream

Glass etching is an unconventional and creative way to decorate any room of your house. Indeed, it opens up a whole new realm of home decorating creativity. The windows, and mirrors you took for granted can become canvases for your personal artistic statements and designs. Any arts and crafts store will offer you a plethora of ready-made stencils, but making your own stencils is not only far more striking and distinctive but also probably a lot easier than you think.

Step 1 - Create or Find the Image You Want

This step is the most technically simple but also the most important. What statement do you want your glass etching to make? Do you want guests to step into your bathroom and think they have stumbled into the Museum of Modern Art, or do you want them to think, "There's no place like home"?

Do some drawings, or have a more artistic friend help you out if you want something customized. You could also head to your local bookstore or library and look for some images that scream "you." Make sure the design is something you are confident you will be able to carve into a stencil.

Step 2 - Make a Copy

If your image is relatively uncomplicated, simply draw it twice. If it is more complicated, a black-and-white photocopy will probably work best. You may need this copy as a back-up if you mess up in cutting your original; you may also need it as a reference for step five.

Step 3 - Attach the Image Sheet to Contact Paper and Trace

Place your image face down onto the contact paper. Tape the edges of the two sheets together on each side. Then, cut out the image. Take care to cut all the way through both sheets. If you have trouble puncturing the contact paper, you may want to use a craft knife to get started and then use the scissors for finer work.

Step 4 - Make One Large Stencil or a Lot of Little Ones

Remember the last time you carved a jack-o'-lantern? Unless all parts of your image are somehow connected to the outer edges of the stencil, they will have to be attached to the glass separately. This problem can be solved by simplifying the image or choosing one that is mostly contiguous, to begin with. If you choose to assemble an image out of free-standing pieces, you may be rewarded with a more complicated design. However, you will also lose the benefit of having a single stencil you can use over and over again.

Step 5 - Place the Stencil on the Glass

Press the stencil firmly onto the glass. If your stencil includes any free-standing pieces, reassemble them using your photocopied image as a guide.

Step 6 - Apply the Glass Etching Cream

Put a substantial coat of glass etching cream over your stencil. Leave it in place for five to 10 minutes to allow the cream to eat into the glass. After it’s set, peel the stencil away and clean the cream off.

Now you have a custom etched piece you can brag about having designed and stenciled on your own.