How to Make and Use a Stencil for Etching Glass

Glass etching is a technique used to create a frosted surface over glass and is often used on window panes and glass doors. Professional glass etching uses different techniques such as carving, shading and surface etching with various tools and abrasives used to achieve intricate and sophisticated designs. However, you can achieve similar results with surface etching by using special etching creams and stencils.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins
Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Things You'll Need

  • Desired glass vessel

  • Etching cream (available at most craft stores)

  • Utility knife

  • Clear adhesive vinyl

  • Desired silhouette prints, or letter prints (like these)

  • Old brush

  • Water to rinse etching cream off surface

Step 1

Select your desired figure to be etched. (Here are some simple shapes you can start with.)
If you're comfortable with your drawing skills, you can also hand draw a simple shape.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Step 2

Thoroughly clean the glass vessel with rubbing alcohol and wipe dry. Place the vinyl over the print (or drawing) and firmly press against the glass, ensuring you push out/remove any air bubbles.


Use a credit card or popsicle stick to press vinyl against glass.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Step 3

Carefully cut out the areas you want to be etched with a sharp utility knife.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Step 4

Gently peel off the cut out and press the edges of the remaining vinyl firmly against the glass.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Step 5

Using an old brush, apply a generous amount of etching cream and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. The longer you allow the etching cream to sit, the more the acid will penetrate the glass, making the etching more noticeable.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Step 6

Wash away etching cream with running water.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins

Step 7

Peel off the stencil to reveal the etching.

Image Credit: Lucy Akins
Image Credit: Lucy Akins

This fun and simple technique can be completed on a larger scale, such as window panes or a large vase, and can be as simple or as intricate as you wish.