Glass Etching: The Ultimate Geek Cup – Montage & Walkthrough

The epic conclusion to my beer-bottle-into-cup saga. Here I show how I did some simple etching to give some character to my drinking vessels.

In my previous post I went through the basic steps of chemical etching and attached a couple high-res stills from my Triforce cup test. But this post will primarily be tailored to the video you should have watched above, with some updated tips based on my experiences.

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The first place to start is your design. Well, the stencil really. If you look online, people suggest contact paper or vinyl sheets to make a stencil. I didn’t feel like buying any of that, but I did have packing tape, which has a smooth, glossy surface. A quick test confirmed that the etching paste had no chemical effect on it.

What changed between my Triforce cup test and now was that I started using foil/parchment paper as a backing for my stencils. This lets you peel off whatever packing-tape design you cut very easily, minimizing handling. If you get fingerprints/oils onto the sticky side of the tape, it’s possible for some of the etching paste to seep under it, that’s what happened to the left (center) corner of my triforce mask (not the bottom left corner, halfway up). The un-etched triangle isn’t perfect, it doesn’t connect with the outer edge of the Triforce at a sharp point (that’s where I struggled to peel off the stencil/mask).

Protip: Use a cutting mat and exacto knife instead of some newspaper/magazines. If your cutting surface isn’t rigid enough, it’s harder to make a clean slice through your stencil. Clean cuts = unmarred edges = crisp etch lines. Don’t cheap out like I did.

When applying the stencil, again, minimize handling. Use tweezers if you must. Don’t get fingerprints on the glass. Press it down firmly to ensure good adhesion, especially along the edges.

I found that dabbing on the paste was the most effective method of application. You don’t need a brush (which costs a few more cents >.> ), the surface tension of the paste (more of a creamy goop) and the slickness of the stencil naturally drew it into a uniform layer.

The depth of the etch isn’t significantly affected by time. I left the paste on for double the recommended time, and the etching (more of a frosting) was barely perceptible by touch. If you want a deeper etching that doesn’t vanish when wet, you’ll have to spring for a fine grit sandblaster.

The results of my etching attempts are pretty far from perfect. The Triforce isn’t composed of perfect triangles, the power icon is a little ragged around it’s circumference, and the batman symbol has slightly tattered wings (from when I accidentally tore the tape instead of cutting it completely at a corner). But I still think they look pretty darn cool, and a more ambitious design could probably pass for a quick gift with the right level of finish.

For $10 though (the price of the etching paste), this is a project you have no excuse not to try if you’re at all interested. You can also buy a pack of letter stencils from a craft store to enhance your etching abilities. Give it a shot, let me know how it works out for you (either here or on my instructables post).

Happy Making, guys.

Music Used:
Angels (Manila Killa Remix) – The XX
Kinetic 2 – Audio Network

Shameless Product Placement:

Still quiet

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