How to Make Etched Cocktail Glasses

These easy-to-etch cocktail glasses are the perfect gift for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other celebratory occasions. Or, make your own set to keep—we won't tell!

Cheers to high style! These etched cocktail glasses are perfect for your next cocktail party.

Put a personal stamp on plain cocktail glasses with this easy etched glass project. With a handful of supplies (most of which you already own!) you can create these pretty and useful monogram cocktail glasses with our simple step-by-step instructions below. This etching method also works on flower vases and other glass decor items, so let you creative spirit shine.

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What You Need

  • Cocktail glasses
  • Stencils, vinyl stick-on letters, or decorative tape
  • Clear adhesive paper (to make your own stencil; we used Con-Tact brand)
  • Clear tape
  • Bone folder
  • Crafts knife (to make your own stencil)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paintbrush
  • Etching cream
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Dish soap

Step 1: Wash Glass

Wash glass surface with soap and water. Let air dry or dry with lint-free cloth.

Step 2: Prepare Template

To make a stencil, draw your design—or print a template—on printer paper. You'll need a new template for each glass.

Editor's Tip: You can order reusable, self-adhesive stencils online, which will save you time. If you use a reusable stencil, wash the stencil with warm water between applications.

Step 3: Apply Adhesive

Apply adhesive paper on glass surface, then use a bone folder or fingers to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles. To smooth out adhesive paper, start from the outside and work your way toward the center.

Step 4: Cut Template

On a flat surface, place a printer paper template over a sheet of adhesive paper, secure with tape, and use a crafts knife to cut out the pattern. You will slice through both layers of paper.

Step 5: Remove Design

Remove the template and lift the adhesive paper where you cut your design. Smooth down the adhesive paper with the bone folder to create a tight seal against the glass.

Step 6: Paint Etching Cream

Wearing rubber gloves, use a paintbrush to dab a thick, even layer of etching cream onto the stencil cutouts. Brush the cream in two directions to prevent brushstrokes on the finished project. Let the cream sit on the glass according to the manufacturer instructions.

Step 7: Rinse and Remove Stencil

Rinse glass (from top down) thoroughly with warm water to remove all cream, then remove stencil and tape. Let glass air-dry or dry with a lint-free cloth. 

Editor's Note: Etching cream will mar the finish of porcelain and enamel sinks. Rinse projects in a stainless sink, utility sink, or plastic bucket to avoid damage.

Step 8: Wash Before Use

Wash the glasses with soap and water before use. Etched designs are food-safe.

Other Etched Glass Project Ideas

Botanical Bottles

Etching amber glassware results in a two-tone effect that highlights our leafy motifs, echoing the flowers and greenery. You can find inexpensive glassware at antique stores, craft stores, or online.

Editor's Tip: Some types of glass won't take the etch. Test the glass first by marking a tiny dot of etching cream with a toothpick where it won't be seen. Wait five minutes and rinse.

Geometric Dishes

Bargain glass bowls get an inexpensive makeover with geometric patterns. Cover the whole dish, opt for a singular motif, or mix and match. Etching cream won't affect the pieces' ability to go in the microwave, oven, or dishwasher, so almost any glass dishware can be dressed up with a stencil.

Mirrored Tray

Add glam to cocktail hour by covering a mirrored tray in triangles. The process for etching mirror is the same as the process for clear glass. The stenciled pattern we used came as a sheet, so it's easy to keep rows straight. Etched designs are permanent, so no sealants are required for this project.


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