Why etched glass?
How to etch glass
Etching techniques
What can you make?
Chemical Etching
Who are we?
Learn glass etching NOW!

How do you etch glass, anyway?

The principles of how to etch glass are easy to explain, and beginning etching is easy to learn. You can complete projects quickly and get a great feeling of accomplishment from beginning etching projects. Glass etching is also one of the few crafts that is not only easy to learn, but also will keep your interest for years! It has such depth of technique that you could spend a lifetime learning to be good at the more advanced methods.

Abrasive glass etching is based on a couple of simple principles: 1) Hard, sharp particles of abrasive material will chip the surface of a piece of glass, causing it to look white or frosted, when the abrasive is shot at the surface of the glass under pressure, and 2) If you cover portions of the glass surface with a material that resists the abrasive, you can produce an etched design by leaving the glass exposed to the blast where you want the etching to appear.

Photo from Etched Glass: Techniques & Designs, by Norm & Ruth Dobbins, used by permission. You can purchase this book from our online store in "Learn glass etching".

(Note: The same principle of selectively protecting portions of a glass surface can be used with chemical etching, sometimes called “cream etching”, because the etching chemical is thick and light in color, resembling thick cream. This is an inexpensive way to get into glass etching that is limited in effect, but fun for small projects. It is fully described under “Chemical etching” on this site.)

The basic procedure to etch glass is as follows:
1.Cover the surface of the glass with a self adhesive vinyl or rubber blasting resist
2. Trace your design on the resist and cut it out with a stencil knife. (See photo #3 above)
3. Remove the portions of the resist from the glass where you want the etched design. (See photo #4 and #5 above)
4. Blast* the exposed areas of glass (see photo #6 above), then remove the resist and clean - that’s all there is to it! (Note: Carving and shading procedures are very different.)

Of course, you will find it very important to investigate and pick the right type of resist, the right abrasive, the right type of equipment, the right blasting pressure, the right safety procedures, etc. That is where our instructional materials on etching come in!

Details about the exact blasting procedures, equipment, materials, safety, are thoroughly covered in detail in our books, videos and in our hands-on seminars.