How to Etch Glasses with Your Own Design

We'll show you how to etch your own designs on glass so you can make anything from custom cocktail glasses to pretty flower vases.

Put a personal stamp on plain cocktail glasses or glass flower vases with this easy etched glass project. With a handful of supplies (most of which you probably already have) you can create pretty and useful glass gifts. This etching method also works on cocktail glasses, flower vases, and other glass decor items, so let your creative spirit shine.

They're the perfect gift for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other celebratory occasions. Or, make your own to keep.

etched amber bottles flowers
Blaine Moats

How to Etch Glass

Supplies Needed

  • 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-by-Step Directions

Follow these easy how-to instructions to etch a design on a glass or jar.

Step 1: Wash Glass

You can etch almost any kind of glass, so the first step will be choosing a design to etch (and what you want to etch it on). Once you've chosen the glass item you want to etch, wash it carefully with soap and water. Let it air dry or hand-dry it with lint-free cloth.

Step 2: Prepare Template

Before you can begin the etching process, you'll need a stencil. To make a stencil, draw your design—or print a template—on printer paper. You'll need a new template for each glass. Apply adhesive paper or vinyl to the glass surface, then use a bone folder to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles, starting from the outside and working your way toward the center. On a flat surface, place your paper template over a sheet of adhesive paper, secure it with tape, and use a crafts knife to cut out the pattern. You will slice through both layers of paper.

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.

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: Paint Etching Cream

Wearing protective rubber gloves ($9, Amazon), use a paintbrush to dab a thick, even layer of etching cream ($11, Amazon) 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 package instructions.

Step 4: Rinse and Remove Stencil

Once the etching cream has sat long enough, rinse the glass (from the 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 5: Wash Before Use

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

Etched Glass Project Ideas

01 of 04

Geometric Dishes

geometric etched glass bowls

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.

02 of 04

Botanical Bottles

etched amber bottles with flowers

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.

03 of 04

Mirrored Tray

geometric etched glass mirror 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.

04 of 04

Monogram Cocktail Glass

Easy Etched Cocktail Glasses

Create a one-of-a-kind gift for the cocktail lover in your life. Making the monogram design is easy: Use a vinyl cut-out or a large alphabet sticker to outline the letter you want. Whether you make it as a Father's Day gift or wrap it up as a sentimental Christmas gift, your recipient will think of you each time they pour a drink on the rocks.

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