Take your Glacier Glass Panel Railing System to the next level by adding personal or business architectural elements with glass etching or sandblasting! Glass panel railing systems offer clean, timeless lines while providing safety, light and uninterrupted views. With glass etching, you can now enhance your glass panel railing with your own style. In this tutorial video, you’ll be shown just how easy and fun it is to DIY glass etch or sandblast.
Glass EtchingGlass etching is the abrading or roughening of a piece of glass in selected areas in order to produce a permanent design. Despite being a craft that was previously available only to professionals and skilled artists, it is now accessible to the general DIYer; Because of the formulation of etching cream. Etching cream is a fast and inexpensive way to create elegant designs on glass. And with just a little know-how and the right supplies, you can add a beautiful, personalized etched design on your glass panel railing system!
Glass Etching TutorialIn this How to Etch Glass tutorial, Lisa Stirrett, owner of the Lisa Stirrett Glass Studio in Silverdale, Washington, demonstrates just how easy it is to DIY a glass etched design. Lisa has been a Pacific Northwest artisan for nearly 20 years. Specializing in glass and metal art, her mission is to create stunning works of art that impact and inspire. Lisa’s love of art is shown with a publicly open studio and weekly DIY workshop with professional instruction. In addition, Lisa has a vision to be a globally recognized art brand that empowers women.
Supplies Needed to Etch GlassAs shown in the video above, with the right tools and know-how glass etching can be done by pretty much anyone! There are multiple ways of creating a stencil for your glass etched design. Below is a list of the supplies needed, most of which can be found at crafting stores or a local retailer. Please keep in mind, the way you want to make your stencil as you won’t need everything listed.
- Start with Clean Glass Panels
- Pattern – See our FREE Templates
- Carbon Transfer Tracing Paper
- Adhesive Vinyl
Glass Etched Glass Panel Railing SystemsWhen you enhance a glass panel railing system with an etched design, you are adding your own style or brand. Glacier® glass railing systems with etched glass panels change the entire dynamic of your deck, interior or staircase! Furthermore, glass panels with etched glass take it a step further than ordinary railing systems. Maybe add an etched glass panel with a wildlife scene on your deck. Definitely adding an etched glass logo will offer a distinctive look for your office lobby. Another idea could be to have one etched glass panel while keeping the rest of the glass clear for maximum view. In conclusion, the possibilities are endless! Check out our FREE glass etching/ sandblasting templates here:
Free Glass Etching / Sandblasting Templates:
- AGS Provided Templates
- Featured Artist templates 1 (coming soon…)
- Spotlight Artist templates 2 (coming soon…)
- Featured Artist templates 3 (coming soon…)
Video Transcription:Title: How to Etch and Sandblast Glass Duration: 00:25:21
Mandy: We’re here in Silverdale, Washington with Lisa Stirrett at her Glass Art Studio. Lisa, you could tell us more about what you do here?
Lisa: Sure, sure. We’re a working glass studio and so what that means is it’s a large building. It’s a historical building actually and the front of it is a showroom. In the back, we’re actually producing the glass. All the work is done here. We have large kilns, so we can cast up to eight feet. We fuse glass and cast glass, which is really, really great. So we can do a lot of commercial work, public work, that sort of thing. A lot of custom work is done here.
Mandy: Nice. Awesome. Do you have classes here for people that are kind of interested in glass art?
Lisa: We do, we do. I’ve been teaching a lot of classes. We’re kind of pulling back on that a little bit because we’ve opened up a DIY area and that’s where people can come in an create their own glass pieces.
Mandy: So do they bring their own – like if they’re already amateur maybe? Do they bring their own or do you provide that for them?
Lisa: We provide everything. It’s an $8 sitting fee and then they come and they pick out their project and we walk them through it and they can stay as long as they like and we’ve got a bar upfront with goodies and drinks and that sort of thing. It’s great for parties and girls’ night-outs.
Mandy: It sounds like a good time.
Lisa: And actually, we had a lot of date nights lately.
Mandy: Oh, really? That’s great. What a great idea! It beats the movies. You’ve got some etching here you’re going to show us how to do today, right? For people who are interested in that kind of thing.
Lisa: That’s right.
Mandy: Completely out of my comfort zone. So this is going to be a completely new experience for us. Tell us more about this.
Lisa: Yeah. So I’m going to show you guys how to etch glass today. We’re going to walk through picking out design and the type of masking material you need and that sort of thing and walk you all the way through it. So we can get started.
Lisa: All right. So Mandy, what we’ve got here is we’re going to etch some glass and so you want to pick your project. It can be flat glass. It actually can be any type of glass that you find, a drinking glass, that sort of thing. So it can be on anything. But we’re going to work on flat glass today. So you want to choose your design and we’re kind of a little overzealous maybe with this design. But you want to do something that when you cut it out, it doesn’t spring all over the place. You know what I mean? The design is very difficult to kind of stick down on your glass. So you can see all these fern pieces. They like to curl up. So it is a little overzealous for me …
Mandy: So this is like …
Lisa: Maybe a little intermediate. But it’s really simple. So you can choose a design off the internet, Google Images, whatever you like.
Mandy: Oh, you could just search for whatever you …
Lisa: Whatever you like. You can draw it out yourself, that sort of thing. So once you get your black and white design, then – and you know what kind of glass that you’re going to use, then you’ve got to go and find a masking material that you will create your stencil out of.
Lisa: So there are actually four different ways you can create a stencil. One is the most simple and that would be card stock and so you can draw your design on card stock and then cut it out with an X-ACTO knife or you can go to an office supply store and get Mylar.
Lisa: OK? And this is great and I will show you how to cut this out in just a few minutes. The other material, you can go to your craft store and this is a masking material that is self-adhesive.
Lisa: So …
Mandy: So it takes out a step.
Lisa: That takes out a step. Yeah, exactly, and then last but not least, there’s – this is kind of for the big daddy. You know, just a little bit – yeah, this is more expensive. This is what professional etchers do use or sandblasters actually.
Mandy: Oh, wow.
Lisa: So a little bit more expensive.
Mandy: What would the difference between etching and sandblasting be then?
Lisa: Well, it’s completely different. You’re going to do all of the setup the exact same way. But in etching, we’re going to use a cream that we sit on the glass and with the sandblasting then you use the design just like with the etching, but then you’re going to sandblast.
Mandy: Just the sand – OK. OK. So it’s a different process.
Lisa: Yeah, a different process. But you use the same design. So this is what you would typically use for sandblasting. But you can use it for the etching if somebody had it around. Some people do. So then the next thing is – that we want to talk about is how you cut your stencil out. So I talked about using an X-ACTO knife. That’s probably the easiest for a lot of people. Then there’s a burning tool that I use on the Mylar and you can actually use a burning tool on the self-adhesive roll as well and on this. But I like to use the X-ACTO knife on this one. It’s a little bit thicker material and now of course the – you know, life is a little bit easier if you’re really computer-savvy. You can do the Sure Cuts from – you can buy it at craft stores and we actually did this with a SureCut and we did this one out with a Sure Cut.
Lisa: We’re going to show you in a few minutes how to do it by hand here. But anyway, so let’s get started. Let’s set up and I will show you how to get your design on to the masking material.
Lisa: OK? All right. So you’ve chosen your design. You’ve got your glass and now, we are going to transfer the design on to the self-adhesive paper. OK? So basically this is just a Xerox copy of my design and then I’ve used transfer paper here. Transfer paper is really cool because you can use it over and over. You can see I’ve used this one over and over and it just comes in a roll at your office store and then you want to just outline it with a blunt tool. So I’m just going to go around and around here and you can get as detailed as you want. I can make it kind of an organic edge or straight edge, whatever I like. But as I’m pushing on this design, it’s pushing through the transfer paper and that ink is coming off onto the roll. So then when I lift it, I will actually – you can see it there.
Mandy: Got it.
Lisa: I will be able to go in and cut that out and I could cut it with my X-ACTO knife or a burning tool.
Lisa: OK? This is one that we did a little bit earlier and so this is kind of important. You can see that there’s a solid line on both top and bottom. If I were to cut this – the dark part out, I would actually lose all these white parts because there’s no connection. So you have to have a connection to the outside world basically.
> Mandy: Sure, sure.
Lisa: So as I did it, you can see I made breaks in here. So when we cut this, there will be individual pieces that come out.
Mandy: Oh, got it. So the bars will still …
Lisa: Right. So it will still look like the solid line. But you’ve got little breaks, so that when you peel this up, then there’s a place to put the etching cream.
Mandy: That’s a great tip for people who are just getting started. That they don’t have to make a mistake over and over again of, “Why can’t I get that right?”
Lisa: So that’s one way to transfer your design. There are a couple of other ways. One is just to go ahead and draw your design with a Sharpie right on to – if you’re a good sketcher, you need to draw your design right onto the roll of paper.
Mandy: All right. So if you feel like you’re a good enough artist, you can just – you don’t – this is a step you can skip and just go to town.
Lisa: Exactly. And then the next thing I’m going to show is how to burn your masking roll.
Mandy: Onto the –
Lisa: Yeah, your image, your stencil.
Mandy: All righty.
Lisa: OK? OK. So now, we have our design already transferred on to the adhesive paper and so in this application, we are going to burn the design off basically, to create the stencil.
Lisa: So you don’t want to do this on a wood table.
Lisa: You’re going to want to do this on a piece of glass.
Lisa: So you’re going to have a working surface that you’re not going to burn basically. So this is really, really hot. It’s a burning tool that you can get at your craft store. There are lots of different nibs and tips. But this is just a straight thin tip and it makes a nice line, a nice straight line, and it’s only – I should say your line is only as good as you are.
Lisa: So then you just go and you start burning your stencil.
Mandy: Oh, wow. Look at that. It just goes.
Mandy: Now if somebody didn’t want to use one of these, they could still use an X-ACTO knife.
Lisa: Exactly. So if you don’t have a burning tool, not to fear. You just get an X-ACTO knife and do the exact same thing.
Mandy: But this is a pretty cool tool, let’s be honest.
Lisa: It is. We use this tool for actually a lot of things. So I will just – a couple more cuts here and then I will lift it up and show you. So basically we’ve started a minute ago and we can – so if it snags, it doesn’t come all the way up, you can just go back over your line.
Mandy: And it gets through both the sticky and the paper.
Lisa: And the paper in the back. So you can see your stencil is starting to be created.
Lisa: And this is a self-adhesive roll. So this blue part, the paper will come off the back. You will stick it down onto your glass and that’s when you will be applying the cream.
Lisa: OK. So we are going to be burning Mylar now. This is just another way to create a stencil. The difference between the roll that we just did on this one and what we’re doing here is that this is self-adhesive already. This is not. So this is just a Mylar, that you get, a roll of Mylar that you get at the office store and what you have to do to make this stick is you create – you buy a self-adhesive spray and you just quickly spray the back of your Mylar and it just becomes this …
Lisa: It’s just a little bit cheaper because these are just cheaper …
Mandy: Another step.
Lisa: Just a step, right. It takes about 60 seconds for this – stick them to set up.
Lisa: So you let it just dry for about 60 seconds and then you’re ready to put your Mylar down. So I’ve already laid this down.
Mandy: So spray, lay.
Lisa: Yes. Spray, wait 60 seconds. Lay it down.
Lisa: OK? So now, what we’ve done here is I’ve drawn my piece of glass on a piece of paper.
Mandy: Got it.
Lisa: Then I lay my design down. It could be just a copy of your design. This is – we’ve already been playing with this fern in different sizes. So we’ve already cut this out. So we’ve laid this down. I’ve taped it down. So everything is secure and everything is going to go back into its right place. So if you knock it, then it’s OK. You can put your glass back.
Mandy: It’s not going anywhere.
Lisa: Right. It’s not going anywhere. So anyway, we’ve laid our design down. Now we’ve got the glass and we’ve got the Mylar and again, you’re just going to start burning. Again, you want to make sure that if there are closed spots, that you want to keep an open spot to the outside of the Mylar. Otherwise, you’re going to have areas that are – you will lose the design.
Mandy: Right. OK.
Lisa: OK? You understand that? OK. So here, this cuts so much faster.
Mandy: It’s really going to town, isn’t it?
Lisa: So did you see how I had to wait and go slow on the roll? This doesn’t have paper underneath of it. So you can see how fast.
Mandy: Wow, and you can – it shows you your …
Lisa: Yeah, it’s awesome.
Mandy: Now, what happens if you sneeze and you miss a little bit or something on this. Is there a way to …?
Lisa: I would put tape over it.
Mandy: Get out! All right. That’s a nice …
Lisa: That’s piece of cake.
Lisa: So then I’m just going to lift a little bit of this up for you, so you can see.
Mandy: Look at that.
Lisa: Piece of cake. Really, really easy to do. This is really thick material whereas this roll is pretty thin. A little bit easier for me to work with.
Lisa: So …
Mandy: It seems like it would be because you’re doing it on purpose. There’s less risk of a tear or something.
Lisa: Yeah. So there you have it. So once we cut this out, we’re ready then to start with our etching cream.
Mandy: Now, what would the difference be between a positive or negative etch on – like something like this?
Lisa: OK. It’s really cool. So this way, we’re cutting out this design. So we’ve already done the same design on the blue roll. This is what this looks like, right? And then the other part of it we have already on the piece of glass. So we’ve taken the paper backing off and we’ve laid it on the glass. But what’s so beautiful is if you wanted to use this, you just lay it on another piece of glass, stick it down, and then you put your etching cream all over.
Mandy: Oh, so one is the fern and one is the glass.
Lisa: So you can etch either the fern image or you can etch all of your glass and leave the fern image in the clear glass.
Lisa: So that’s pretty cool.
Mandy: So it would depend on if you want to just – the fern to be seen or if you maybe wanted a little more coverage, if you’re going to use it in the bathroom or something.
Lisa: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. OK. So now we’re going to lay down your stencil onto the glass.
Lisa: OK? The first thing to do is we want to have – you want to put your glass down on a piece of paper. Trace it. Lay you design down. So you know where you’re going to put your stencil on the glass. OK. We’ve done this already. That’s right. A little bit of a guide. So we’ve already done this. Again, choose your design wisely at first when you’re first practicing this, because this was a very difficult one only because – see all these little lines? They’re all over the place.
Mandy: They’re more difficult obviously.
Lisa: It is, definitely. So this adhesive tape is great. It’s either the adhesive roll that we used or the Mylar.
Mandy: And that’s stick on that side, yeah?
Lisa: Yes. So if it was the Mylar, it would be the same or this roll, and the most important thing that you can think about is when you’re laying this down, you want to go from one end to another. Do you see how I am laying this down going back and forth? That’s to make sure there are no bubbles.
Mandy: So you would probably want maybe a credit card or a Popsicle stick or something to that effect, right?
Lisa: You could at the end. But you don’t want to tear your material either.
Mandy: Oh, OK.
Lisa: So I would use your finger at first, just going back and forth until you get it all laid down. Then I go back and you can do a little credit card or actually, I just use my finger and rub, rub, rub and make sure everything is down securely and there are no bubbles. So the reason why you want it down secure is because when that etching cream hits the glass, we don’t want it to go under the stencil and then smudge your line basically.
Mandy: Sure. So if you’ve got an intricate design like this and all of these little fern leaves, you really want to go over each one of those to seal, right?
Lisa: Exactly, exactly. So I can see where we did this a little bit earlier. But I can see where it has bubbled just a little bit up. So now I’m going to go over it with my finger real fast to make sure – before I put the etching cream on – that we’re secure.
Mandy: Now what about something like this where there’s a little wrinkle, but it’s still sealed. Is that going to be an issue or …
Lisa: That’s not an issue at all. You’re concerned about these outside lines, right in here. So we’re pretty much ready to put the etching cream on now.
Mandy: All righty.
Lisa: All right. OK. So now we’re going to apply the etching cream.
Lisa: We’re using an industrial etching cream. But you can buy the cream over the counter at a craft store.
Lisa: So the way to apply it, first of all, I’m not going to use gloves. You might want to use gloves. Well, if you’re not used to it, plus if you’re sensitive. Some people have issues with that. So I’m not going to do the whole thing right now. So you can pour it out onto a lid, another piece of glass, whatever you would like to do. I’m just going to throw it.
Mandy: Wow. That is thick.
Lisa: It’s really, really thick and you can apply this with just a regular paintbrush, a blunt paintbrush or just like a sponge.
Lisa: The key I have found is not rubbing back and forth because if for some reason your stencil isn’t stuck all the way down, you have the potential of bringing that stencil up. So it’s an up and down process I believe.
Mandy: A lot.
Lisa: Yes, more blotting. And honestly, you’re going to use a lot of etching cream.
Lisa: So you’re going to want to start and you want to pile it on there.
Mandy: You just glop it all down.
Lisa: I glop it all the way down. I will do this a little bit here.
Mandy: Now, if – let’s say you’re glopping a lot and there is a little leaf that’s up and whenever you’re done, you peel it off. You see that. Is there a way to fix it or that’s it?
Lisa: No, I’m sorry.
Mandy: That’s it. It’s fine.
Lisa: I’m sorry. You’re toast. Yeah. You start over. Then you can see I just got a little bit over the edge here. So I want to get that up, so it’s not going to etch the …
Mandy: The other side.
Lisa: The side of my glass where I don’t want it.
Mandy: So if you get out of line, you get it off.
Lisa: You got to get it off and I just will wipe it off with my finger. Actually the best thing to do is to get a little wet paper towel and wipe it. So you can see that I am really globbing this on. If I glob it on a little less in one area, you will have a different type of etch. You really want to have a consistent amount over the entire thing and one other thing is – I mean you can wipe it off and look at it. Each time you wipe it, you’re weakening your stencil. So you want to leave it on and there are directions with over-the-counter. With my etching cream, I actually did a test and you can see we did 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, and then all night long.
Lisa: So you can see there’s quite a bit of a difference on how long you leave your etching cream on.
Lisa: So I have always – with the over-the-counter cream, I’ve always left it on longer than what they say. But I don’t want to recommend that if you’ve got something that’s precious to you. I don’t want anything to get ruined.
Mandy: Well, the more familiar you get with it too, you might be …
Mandy: … able to do that. But on your first trip, maybe not.
Lisa: Yeah. So then once this sits, for however long you want it to, I take a paper towel and very carefully start wiping it up or a light sponge.
Lisa: And you – if you feel like you’ve done a good job and it’s looking good and you don’t need to apply any more, then you just take it to the sink and rinse it off. The one thing that you don’t want to do though is once you’ve – once you’re done and you’ve taken your stencil off, if you’ve missed some areas, you actually don’t want to go back and reapply.
Mandy: OK. I was just going to ask that.
Lisa: Yeah. It does make some spotting.
Lisa: And so it’s best to do your – take your best shot and put a lot of it on and let it sit and then wash it off.
Mandy: So it’s not like thin layer. Hmm, I don’t like. More and more and more.
Mandy: If you want it deep, you just put a bunch on. Let it sit.
Lisa: Let it sit. Leave it alone and then wash it off. That’s the best thing that you can do. So this is the one that we – we made one in advance.
Lisa: So I don’t know if you can catch that on film. But it’s pretty well-etched.
Mandy: Yeah. That’s – so all of the – right here, where you’re using your mylar or your sticky paper, if something got under here…
Lisa: It will show, yup it will show.
Mandy: So, be very detailed.
Lisa: That’s right. And then of course this is a one time use so when you take that stencil off then you toss it out.
Mandy: Pretty cool!
Above Transcription by Prexie Magallanes as Trans-Expert at Fiverr.com
To do this project you will need:
Apply Tape mask
Tape will work OK for light blasting. Use 2 or more layers of tape depending on factors like desired depth of blast, air pressure, tape thickness and type of abrasive. Result may vary, so you’ll need to do test pieces before the final blast.
Professional masks are best as they withstand extensive blasting.
We’ve covered our entire piece of glass with tape. Alternatively, you could use card board or heavy paper to cover areas that will not be directly blasted.
Use a ‘J’ roller of some other smooth edged tool to smooth down your tape or stencil.
We’re cutting our design directly on the glass because we’re using tape. Most other stencils would be cut before applying it to the glass.
Glue down the template using spray glue or draw your design directly on the tape.
Cut out your design.
A sharp Hobby knife works well. Press hard enough to cut completely through the stecil material but not hard enough to score the glass.
Carefully peel up your stencil.
Now that your design is completely cut out, smooth down your stencil again.
Now you’re ready to sandblast. This is permanent! DON’T FORGET TO THOROUGHLY TEST on scrap materials BEFORE proceeding on the final glass.
Tape stencils are suitable for LIGHT blasting. Be careful NOT to blast through the tape and ruin your glass piece. Remember TEST before proceeding to this point.
Remove the stencil.
We found a sharp-edged piece of plastic worked great to remove the stencil.
Use solvent and a paper towel to remove any residual masking material.
Viola, we’re done.