How to Etch Glass Bottles

How-To, Relish Style
on September 1, 2010
How to Etch Glass Bottles
Mark Boughton

Some glass bottles are just too pretty and colorful to toss into the recycling bin. Instead of discarding them, I “etch” them for my own use and to give away as gifts. They’re beautiful with flower stems tucked inside, and they make handy containers for bath salts and infused oils or vinegars.

Here is what you will need to do this project:

  • Contact paper—clear or light color
  • Glass bottles or jars, washed, rinsed and completely dried
  • Sharpie-type marker
  • Craft knife such as X-acto Knife with new blade
  • Wooden spoon
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Goggles or safety glasses
  • An old long-sleeved shirt
  • Rubber gloves or medical gloves
  • “Armour Etch” Glass Etching Cream (Jo-Ann, Michaels and most other arts and crafts stores)

To Do:

Cut the Contact paper to fit your glass bottle. Using marker pen, write large boxy letters or draw designs on the front of the Contact paper.

Lay Contact paper with lettering or image on flat work surface such as a cutting board or rubber matt. Tape corners down if necessary.

Use a sharp craft knife to carefully cut out design. If you are using letters with “insides,” such as an “a” or “e,” save that part to stick on glass surface later. You are creating your own stencil. Take your time, but don’t worry about perfection.

Carefully remove the backing of the cut Contact paper, making sure to not pull too hard or you will warp the image. Place cut out Contact paper stencil gently onto surface of glass and working from one side to the other, gently tap into place. You can still pull up and reposition some of the edges of your design so do this now if needed.

When it is adhered to glass surface to your liking, use the edge of a wooden spoon to burnish edges and seal them securely to the glass. Read instructions on the Armour Etching Cream label, noting safety instructions carefully.

Put on goggles, a long-sleeved shirt and gloves. Lay bottle stencil-side-up on a work surface. (I rest my bottles on a wadded up dish towel to keep them from rolling around.) Dip the bristle brush into the etching cream and brush on bottle over the cut out areas of the Contact paper. Brush on a thick coat so that no glass shows through.

Leave cream on glass up to 10 minutes.

Make sure your sink is empty of all dishes and flatware. Still wearing goggles, long-sleeved shirt and gloves, rinse the bottle under warm running water until all cream is removed. Carefully remove stencil, rinse again and dry with towel.

Other tips/ideas:

  • Create polka dots: Cut our circles of Contact paper and apply to the glass bottle. Etch the remaining areas of the bottle.
  • This is not a project for the kids! See label for etching cream.
  • You can paint etching cream onto a glass surface free-hand to make a more abstract design. With this approach, there is no stencil to cut.
Found in: How-To, Relish Style