Best Beginner Glass Etching Starter Kits 2022
Glass etching is a fun and easy craft that anyone can learn! While you can certainly purchase glass etching materials separately, it is much more convenient for beginners to learn using glass etching kits.
The kits recommended here include most of the basic equipment and materials you will need to begin creating beginner glass etching projects. As you improve your skills, you can add more tools to your collection. These tools are described in more detail towards the end of the article.
Below, we’ve chosen a range of kits for various budgets, including basic starter kits and more ‘complete’ kits for the more serious starters, and included advice throughout the article about what each tools does, some additional considerations, and things you can make to get started.
Best Glass Etching Kits? We Recommend:
What’s Included in Glass Etching Kits?
The starter kits above come with most of the materials you will need to make great beginner glass etching projects. Below are some items guaranteed to come in the beginner and intermediate kits with explanations so you know what’s what!
1) Etching Cream
Etching cream does exactly what the name suggests: it etches your design into glass! Etching creams usually come in 3-10 ounce containers and can be used for multiple projects. The cream is made of hydrofluoric acid, which eats away at the molecular bonds in the glass to create the frosted appearance associated with etching.
Etching cream is wiped onto the work surface using a paintbrush and then rinsed off. Because of its chemical composition, it is important to always wear appropriate protective gear like gloves and eyewear when using etching cream.
2) Pre-Made Stencils
Most beginner kits will come with a few pre-made stencils or decals for you to use. Common designs are animals, insects, geometric patterns, and letters. The stencils are made out of flexible vinyl, and can be reused over and over again.
3) Stencil Vinyl
- Flexible, multi-use stencils easily adhere to various shaped objects
- Use to etch, sand etch, or paint on glass, mirror, ceramics and other non-porous surfaces
- Can also be used for more traditional varieties of stamping
Some kits also include blank vinyl stencil sheets that can be cut out to your liking. While beginners may feel overwhelmed by stencil designing, stencil vinyl is useful to keep on hand for future projects.
Once you feel ready to create your own designs, you can freehand draw or trace designs onto your stencil vinyl or use a design program online to create your design and print it out. Many creative bloggers have free designs available on their websites. You can also scope out designs on online handmade marketplaces.
4) Stencil Writing Knife
- Precision knife with number 11 fine point blade for exact cuts
- Sharp and durable zirconium nitride coated blade
- Lightweight aluminum handle is easy to maneuver
Stencil writing knives allow you to cut a design out of your stencil vinyl. They usually have a small blade that is perfect for small and intricate designs and resemble an X-Acto knife.
A small paintbrush is vital for applying the etching cream safely and effectively. Apply a small amount of etching cream to your work surface and brush back and forth for a few minutes, making sure to cover the entire stencil.
Most kits include a pair of rubber gloves that can be reused. Gloves are needed when handling the etching cream and stencil. Because the hydrofluoric acid in the etching cream is highly corrosive, gloves are an absolute must, especially for beginners who are not used to handling the chemical.
7) Stencil Applicator
There are many methods for applying vinyl stencils to glass surfaces, but many beginner glass etching kits will include a stencil applicator stick that works as a temporary glue stick for your stencil. Just roll the product onto the back of the stencil and place it onto the glass surface.
Transfer tapes and other adhesive products are also popular. Start by using the product included in your kit and switch to a different method if desired.
8) Practice Glass
Your kit may also come with small squares of glass for practicing on. Before committing to a serious project, practice applying some stencils to practice glass squares and use the etching cream to see how the design will look.
Your kit will, of course, also include a set of instructions for proper etching cream use and stencil application. Make sure to follow all safety recommendations to complete your glass etching project safely and effectively.
Do I Need Anything Extra to Start Glass Etching?
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Additional materials will depend on the types of projects you plan to complete, but many glass etching enthusiasts add a few tools and materials to their collection for safe and easy etching.
The most important additional item to have on hand when glass etching is protective eyewear. Any kind of affordable lab goggle will do the trick. Since the etching cream contains acids, you want to make sure to protect your eyes.
To apply your decals or stencils, transfer tape or masking tape can make the process a lot easier. Make sure to also have rubbing alcohol on hand for cleaning your glass surfaces before etching. Dirt and oils can interfere with the stencil and the etching cream, so you want a nice, clean slate before applying these products.
Finally, if you are tech-savvy and want to create really professional designs, consider downloading and learning decal software. Design Space is one program that allows you to download designs from the Internet or create your own. Cutting machines allow you to cut out your stencils and decals and can be used glass etching and other crafts.
What Can I Make with Beginner Glass Etching Kits?
Glass etching kits are extremely versatile. You can use them to etch any glass or mirrored surface. Home decor items like coasters, plaques, and candle holders are very popular project ideas. You can also use glass etching kits to add personalized designs to drinkware.
You will be able to complete most glass etching projects with beginner kits. Any extra materials can be purchased as you progress in the craft, and you can substitute materials based on your needs and preferences.
Here is a great video to get you started with glass etching. The designer in the video uses some higher-tech products to make her stencils but feel free to start out with the more basic items found in your kit. As you get more comfortable with glass etching, you can add extra tools and equipment.
This video gives comprehensive instructions on glass etching for home decor and drinkware. The tutorial begins with a discussion on decals/stencils and how to print and make your own using software. All necessary instructions for using the software are included, but you could also freehand your stencil if you prefer more analog designing.
Next, apply transfer tape or another adhesive included in your kit to prepare the stencil for transfer onto your work surface. Before your stick the stencil onto the glass, make sure to use rubbing alcohol to clean away any dirt or oils. This will ensure that the stencil adheres properly.
Use a paintbrush to apply the etching cream to the glass. Use gloves and protective eyewear. Make sure that the etching cream is getting into every little area of the stencil. The cream should be brushed on in back and forth motions for about three minutes. This helps activate the acid onto the glass and create a smooth frosted glass appearance.
Rinse off the etching cream and use the brush to help remove it. Take off your stencil, and the etching is done!