Glass Etching Tutorial: Blackhawks/Cardinals Cabinet

This is a little bit of a Throwback Thursday post, but, thanks to some awesome Game 6 Stanley Cup action, I got to do an update!

Approximately three years ago, I stumbled upon what I believe to have been a media cabinet.  I figured that with a paint job and some personal touches, it would be an excellent place to store glassware (which we have tons of) and appliances (which, at the time, we had very little storage for).

Since the cabinet would end up in our bar area, I decided to customize the glass panes to fit my husband's sports preferences (big, big Cardinals fan - big, big Blackhawks fan).  These were the resulting sliding glass doors.

So, just as a point of reference, you know what's ridiculously hard? Photographing glass.  That is ridiculously hard.  Apologies for all the ridiculous reflections.

So, just as a point of reference, you know what's ridiculously hard? Photographing glass.  That is ridiculously hard.  Apologies for all the ridiculous reflections.

Clearly, the Cardinals have done pretty well for themselves.  And now the Hawks are on that track too.  Luckily for me, glass updates are super easy to do.  Here's the tutorial.

Glass Etching Tutorial

Start with clean glass - the fewer the curved surfaces, the better.  For this type of etching, plate glass is ideal.  Print out the image that you want to etch, and tape it to the back of the glass.

Cut a piece of clear contact paper, larger than the area of the picture you want to etch.  Aim for at least a centimeter larger on all sides.  Stick the contact paper on the top of the glass, above your image.  You'll be creating a stencil using the contact paper, so it's really important that there be no air bubbles anywhere under the contact paper (this is why it's harder to etch this way on curved glass surfaces - it's hard to get the contact paper to stick without air bubbles on curves.

Use an xacto knife to trace the outlines of your design.  To the extent possible, try not to lift the knife, as smooth strokes help to keep the contact paper from lifting up and letting the chemicals get underneath - this helps the final image to stay crisp.  Peel out the negative spaces, once the outline have been completed.

Once you've completed your stencil (EVERYTHING needs to be cut and peeled off before the next step), use a paintbrush or cue tip to apply Armor Etch (I got this bottle at Hobby Lobby ages ago for 40% off $19.99 - it lasts forever) to the exposed glass.  Armor Etch removes the finished surface of the glass, so any glass exposed to the chemical will be permanently etched.  This is the reason that you want the centimeter buffer on your contact paper.  The chemical is also caustic, so make sure not to let it get on your skin.  No need to be dainty on the application - I tend to just glop it on.

At this point, you can pretty much follow the directions on the bottle, but if you want a spoiler alert, you leave the Armor Etch on for approximately five minutes (though you can wash it off sooner, if you just can't wait).  To remove the Armor Etch, run the glass under warm water, and let the water pressure wash all of the Armor Etch away.  Then, remove any remaining contact paper, dry the glass, and congratulate yourself on a custom project well done.

This may be wishful thinking, but I think Toews and Kane would approve :)  Hope this is helpful!  Let me know if there's anything that needs clarification!