Sunday, March 4, 2012

How To Etch Stained Glass Suncatchers

Recently I was asked about how to etch stained glass suncatchers.

After giving it some thought and wondering why someone would want to do it, I decided to write this post.

Learning how to etch stained glass suncatchers isn't difficult at all, however you need to acquire some basics before you dive into your project.

 You will need the following:
  • A clean work area.
  • Clear or opaque glass that has been wased and dried
  • A pattern of some sort if you are not artistically inclined.
  • A sharp bladed exacto knife
  • Mac-tac
  • A fid
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • A new (or well cleaned) soft flux brush
  • A fine tipped marking pen
  • Etching cream
  • Gloves

First you need to wash, rinse and thoroughly dry the glass project you are working with.

A thorough drying is necessary for the mac-tac to stick properly.

Next use rubbing alcohol to further clean the glass and make it easier for the etching cream to work properly.

Next, using your fine tipped marker, trace the pattern you chose onto the plastic mac-tac.

Make sure the marker ink is thoroughly dry or it will smear.

Next, position the pattern on the stained glass you want etched.

Peel back the backing from the mac-tac a little bit at a time as you position it on the glass and rub out any air bubbles.

You don't want any air bubbles under the mac-tac or your etching cream will etch where you don't want it to.

This is just like placing a new decal on your auto tag.

Now that you have the plastic on your glass without any air bubbles, you need to cut out the pattern you traced with your exacto knife.

Be sure to use a new blade in your knife so you don't rip or tear the plastic.

Be precise when you do this step. Cut exactly on the lines in the area you want the etching cream to be applied to the glass and then peel off the plastic from the area you want etched.

Any place where there is plastic left on the glass will NOT be etched.

After you have removed all the plastic from areas of the glass you want etched, double check your pattern for mistakes or jagged edges. Trim up areas where needed.

Once you apply the etching cream, it begins to etch immediately so be forewarned.

In a well ventilated area, put on your gloves and start applying the etching cream with the soft flux brush.

There is no need to overdo it, but make sure the areas you want etched are covered with enough cream to do the job.

When you're finished working the cream over the glass areas you want etched, let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes.

When it's time, rinse the cream off the glass with warm running water from the sink. Don't use your kitchen sprayer.

I like to use a natural hair oil paint brush for this step. Make sure you wear gloves as you rinse the etching cream off your project and take care not to move the plastic mac-tac on the glass.

After all the etching cream is removed from your project, dry the glass with paper towels or pat dry with a terry cloth towel.

When the glass is fully dried and you are satisfied with the degree of etching, you can remove the plastic pattern.

If you feel that the glass needs to be etched a bit more, just repeat the above process and wait another 10 to 15 minutes.

That's all there is to it!

Etching clear glass gives a more dramatic look however, semi clear stained glass suncatchers can be etched to give your project a totally unique appearance.

Learning how to etch stained glass suncatchers isn't rocket science and can be mastered in just a few hours.

Have fun!

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