(I don't know if this technically qualifies as a glass craft since I'm not really creating the glass itself...? I may get booed out of the forum by all of you talented glassblowers and fusers...)
Inspired by my incessant scrolling through Pinterest, I recently reorganized my really messy pantry (seen here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/grammardog/sets/72157627601241276/). I replaced many food boxes and bags with glass canisters. I really liked the way my canisters looked with my handwritten labels on them, but even after just a few opening and closings, I noticed that they were starting to look a little worn. (Obviously, it was the chocolate-covered pretzels canister that I noticed the wear on first.) I figured they were going to start looking dingy pretty fast. So, looking down the barrel of another sleepless night, I decided to do some glass etching. Glass etching is one of the most satisfying and simple crafts around! The etching cream does almost all of the work. The hardest part is creating and applying your design, and that's only as hard as you make it.
Here is one of the finished products!
I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of small, stick-on letters. They were exactly what I was looking for... super-sticky, made of pliable plastic, and a nice basic font:
I labelled each jar with the contents using the stickers... no prep to the canisters required:
Next I used masking tape to tape a rectangle around the words. I didn't use a ruler or a measuring tape for any of this... just eyeballed it. I wasn't interested in every canister being perfectly uniform. I pressed the tape and the stickers down hard around all the edges to make sure no etching cream could sneak under there.
The next step is applying the etching cream. Etching cream is a goopy liquid that looks sort of like hair conditioner with sand mixed into it. I used Armour Etch, which is pretty expensive... about $40 for a medium-sized bottle. I had a bottle on hand that I've been stretching for years, and you can, too, if you're as cheap as I am. The cream should be applied over your stencil in a very thick layer... not dripping off, but it should not be at any risk of drying up. If you apply it too thinly, like a layer of paint, the chemical process to etch the glass won't be effective, and you'll get uneven results. If your stencil is carefully adhered to your surface, you can re-use a lot of the cream by brushing off the excess before rinsing it and putting it back in the bottle (if your stencil/stickers are a bit loose, brushing over your design too much could sweep the etching cream under the stickers and make your edges messy). This is how I've made one bottle last through 10 years of projects, and I've found no ill effects from re-using it in this way. You need to really glob it on thickly to get a consistent look, and it seems a waste to wash that all down the drain. So buy the smallest bottle and make it last!
So you apply the etching cream with a paintbrush. If you get it on your skin, it will burn you up, so be careful. Also, it doesn't smell that bad, but you can tell it's totally giving you pulmonary disease, so use it in a well-ventilated area and you could even wear a mask if you're so inclined. Leave the cream on the glass for no longer than a minute. Any longer than that and it will continue etching deeper into the glass, creeping under your stickers and making your edges look blurry instead of nice and crisp. I taped all the jars first, then set the microwave timer for an hour and went to town. I managed about two jars at a time, rinsing one while the other etched, then globbing on the cream while another one etched. I kept an eye on the ticking timer to note when each one needed a rinse. As I rinsed the jars under warm water, I rubbed at the tape and stickers and eased them off. Then I was done! Here are some of the results:
I went generic with some of the pasta jars since I like to switch it up with my noodles:
Some of the small jars couldn't fit their labels, but I ended up loving the modern, graphic look of the wraparound text:
Thanks for looking in!