DIY – How to Etch Glass Christmas Ornaments

10 Dec

Etching produces a frosty design and is permanent. It can be a fun way to add a dramatic flair to glass!!

AND…you can do it yourself with cream.   A special cream that can be bought at any craft store.

It’s easy and quick and can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s how to etch glass Christmas ornaments!

I bought this pack of 9 glass ball ornaments for $6 at Tar-zhay (Target!).

Some sort of template is needed to etch your pattern.  A Cricut or Silhouette that cuts vinyl stickers would be ideal but since I didn’t have one, I used plain ol’ stickers!

Something that adheres well to the glass well is required.  Otherwise, the etching cream will penetrate under the stencil. I tried painter’s tape and it did not work well.  Since painter’s tape has a light hold, the etching cream seeped under it and the design was ruined.

You can create whatever patterns you like.  I am using snowflakes, Christmas trees and stockings for these ornaments.  I am also going to do a few without stencils and frost them completely all over.

Adhere the stencil.

Now time for the etching cream!!!!

I bought my etching cream at Michael’s (Armour Etch).  There’s not a Hobby Lobby in the state I live which is unfortunate…because I’d die to have one of those 50% off coupons!  Etching cream is not cheap.  This bottle was $29.99.  But it was large and will last a long time.  They sell much smaller bottles but the Michael’s I went to was out of stock.

This cream has to be toxic if it changes the composition of the glass surface!  It would be smart to wear gloves.  However I wasn’t smart and passed on the gloves. I actually got a small bit on my hands but it didn’t irritate or burn them.  I was expecting some pungent acid like stench but the cream didn’t really smell much either.

Now, paint it on!  You need to paint it on pretty thick. It is okay if you get it on top of the stencil.

Next let the cream set on the ornament for 5 minutes.  I hung mine on a clothes hanger outside.

While I was waiting on that, I made another ornament using the outline of the sticker.  This will create a different effect on how the ornament design will look.  The first ornament will be completely frosted and the area where the stencil was will be clear.

On second one, the entire ornament will be clear and the stencil area will be frosted.

This is a good way to use a the part of the sticker packaging that typically would have been discarded. And this method uses a lot less etching cream!

Here is how to use the stencil (sticker) outline.

Cut the area around the sticker outline out.

Then stick on ornament.

Now paint on the inside of the outline.  Leave the rest of the ornament naked.

After the ornament has sat with the cream for 5 minutes, rinse in water.

Once the ornament is washed and the sticker removed, the stencil design will not be visible and the glass won’t look frosted.

Don’t be discouraged, once the ornament dries for at least an hour…

the frosting and stencil design will become DRAMATIC!


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20 Responses to “DIY – How to Etch Glass Christmas Ornaments”

  1. Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons December 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm #

    I love frosted anything! Cakes, cupcakes, and especially GLASS! glass most of all b/c there are zero calories =)

    I still need to buy some of this etching creme – thanks for the reminder bff! <3


  2. Janice December 12, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Can you use a paintbrush to draw a design on by freehand or is it too thin and runny ?

  3. Angie & Carrie December 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    It’s not thin…it is actually is thick like lotion. However I think it would be next to impossible to freehand a design. You need to put it on so thick it would be hard to keep clean lines. The paste is heavy and can droop. Let me know if you need to know anything else :)

  4. Michelle July 4, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    A great tutorial for a cute project!

    Please be careful with etching cream! It contains hydrofluoric acid, a very dangerous chemical. It does not necessarily leave a mark or hurt immediately; rather, it is absorbed and causes damage internally. Etch responsibly: wear gloves, work in a ventilated area and do not allow children or pets to come near.

    Keep up the great craftiness!

    • Angie & Carrie July 15, 2011 at 11:24 am #

      Michelle, thanks for the warning. I will definitely be more careful next time :)

  5. The Dutch Girl July 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    I love um! Tip to make your etching cream last longer and be kind to the planet: you can reuse it. Just scrape it off with a silicon spatula and put it back into the jar. I promise it will work just as well the second or third time around.


    • Angie & Carrie July 15, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      Great idea! I had tons of cream I scraped off and was wondering if it could be used again. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Christina November 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Thanks for the great ideas! We etched mirrors using the same cream and technique in my high school art class. We used contact paper as a resist instead. It’s great to cut your own design but it stuck horribly to the glass and left a large amount of adhesive behind (really fun to remove ;P). I like the idea of using stickers much better, it seems as though you’d have much cleaner lines as well, contact paper doesn’t cut very smoothly once you stick it to a hard surface. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Angie & Carrie November 18, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      Thanks Christina! The stickers worked really well. However there were a few stickers that didn’t stick well because it was a round surface and the stickers creased. On those, the etching cream seeped under the crease a tiny bit. It was hardly noticeable. They were easy to remove and I think they would work even better on a flat surface.

  7. Jordan November 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    What about using a frosted glass spray paint?

    I used that on my front door because it was glass & I don’t want people to be able to see inside. Do you think this would work instead of the itching cream?

  8. Kristin PG December 8, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    What a great visual tutorial. I skimmed through this, then hurried and made my first ornament. I was so so sad when I washed it off and couldn’t see any design, I thought I had messed it up. Of course, rereading your post I realize I need to wait for an hour or so. Now I can’t wait to see it! Thanks again for your post.

    • Angie & Carrie December 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Kristin, that is so funny! I thought the same thing when I made mine. I was so mad I couldn’t see the etching! Thankfully after an hour, it appeared perfectly!

  9. Carolyn Gill December 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I found out the hard way the downfall of buying the large bottles of etching cream unless you are going to do a really lot of etching at once. It drys out and you get little hard chunks in your cream. These pieces of grit do not etch as well as the cream so your etching can look spotty.

  10. replica hermes kelly handbags July 21, 2013 at 3:26 am #

    Your article DIY – How to Etch Glass Christmas Ornaments | TwoFriendsTwoCitiesOneVision write very well, thank you share!

  11. Colleen December 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Hello! This is an absolutely adorable tutorial! Would we be able to feature an image from this tutorial and link back to your site in a holiday ornament round up on Babble? Look forward to hearing back!

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