Glass Etching a Mirror

Personalizing a mirror is not only fun but beautiful. You can go big or small all the way down to a compact mirror or tile. It can have a favorite quote, image that makes you happy, or a daily reminder. The sky is the limit. Make a border or a few small images along the side or make it big and impressive sure to catch everyone’s eye who passes by.

Supplies Needed:

  • Rubbing alcohol and cloth or alcohol pad
  • Mirror
  • Temporary/indoor adhesive vinyl like Oracle 631
  • Transfer tape
  • Timer
  • Etching cream
  • Scraper
  • Protective surface such as newspaper or cardboard
  • Table or someplace flat and stable to hold your design evenly (round objects may need supports on each side to remain steady)
  • Well-ventilated area
  • Wet cloth for emergency wipes
  • Dry cloth for after any emergency wipes
  • Gloves to prevent contact with cream
  • Paper towels or cloths for larger or more delicate projects that cannot go under running water
  • Stainless steel or plastic spoon
  • Access to a stainless steel or plastic-like sink (not porcelain as it can be etched)
  • Silhouette CAMEO®
  • Silhouette Studio®

Before You Begin

  • Make sure all supplies are gathered.
  • If you have a round object being etched, ensure you have steady supports to keep it from rolling.

Step One: Prep Your Design & Glass

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1. Open your design in Silhouette Studio®.
2. Ensure it has a large border around it to prevent etching cream from touching the glass.
3. Size it appropriately and prepare to cut it.
4. Using rubbing alcohol and a cloth, clean the surface of the glass item that will be etched and allow it to dry completely.

Step Two: Cut, Weed, and Transfer Your Design

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1. Cut the design using Silhouette CAMEO®.
2. Weed the design by removing the vinyl that makes up the design leaving the negative space.
3. Use transfer tape to pick up the vinyl and apply it to the glass surface.
4. Remove the transfer tape.
5. Secure the vinyl. Make sure no gaps or wrinkles exist where the design portion is. You need a tight seal on the glass to produce a clean etching. You may have to rub over the vinyl multiple times to ensure it is sticking tightly to the glass item.

Step Three: Etch the Glass

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1. Pour a thick layer of etching cream onto the exposed glass that makes up the design. Be sure to start in one corner, fill that section with cream, and then move on to the next section to ensure an even etch.
NOTE: If any cream drips onto glass outside of the design space, IMMEDIATELY remove it with the wet cloth and then wipe it dry with the dry cloth.
2. Using the scraper or spoon, spread the cream across the design and ensure even coating. It should be thick.
3. Once all areas of the design are covered, set your timer.
NOTE: Length of time varies with different brands. Armour Etch takes only a few minutes while Etch All requires 15 minutes.

Step Four: Expose the Design

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1. When the timer sounds, remove the excess etching cream using the scraper and/or spoon.
NOTE: Armour Etch must be disposed of while Etch All can be returned to the container for reuse. Its color will change over time with exposure to air, but it still works.
2. Rinse the design surface under running water if possible.
NOTE: If the project is small enough, use one of the emergency cloths to gently push the cream off of the design space and glass while under running water. Be gentle because removing parts of the vinyl too soon can result in a smudged design.
NOTE: If the project cannot be put under running water because of size or other materials like cardboard, cleaning the surface will take longer. Use paper towels or more cloths to clean all of the etching cream from the surface. Then, use a glass cleaner once finished.
3. Pat dry.

Step Five: Finish and Cleanup

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1. Carefully remove and dispose of vinyl.
2. You may need to clean the surface one last time.
3. Let dry.
4. Admire your completed project and pat yourself on the back.
NOTE: Properly dispose of excess etching cream, rinse utensils and tools, and place used cloths where the cream cannot damage surfaces or neighboring items before being washed.

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