glass jar etching project

Today I decided that saving glass jars instead of using store bought glasses does have a down side.  Mainly that there are so many of them in my cabinet.  We use the ones with good lids for food storage, since I really try not to use a lot of plastic in my kitchen, they are a good alternative to plastic containers.  So, I thought I would etch some designs into some jars so as to differentiate the ‘drinking glass’ jars from the ‘food storage’ jars, and so that people can remember which glass is theirs. My fantasy is that everyone will start remembering which jar they were drinking from so I don’t have 20 to wash every day, but I’m not holding my breath for that just yet.

my candidate and it's running mates

I chose a large peanut butter jar, because it’s the size I like to drink from.

I used rubbing alcohol and a washrag to take off the remnants of glue

The jar had a bit of glue left from the label, and I knew that would resist the etching creme so before I started putting my design on, I deglueified the glass with alcohol.  Rubbing alcohol will take most glues off glass, but if you try to remove glue from plastic with alcohol it will usually make the plastic cloudy.  But that’s not important here, since we don’t etch plastic with this etching creme.  You could get an etched effect if you used the alcohol on plastic, actually.

starting to add a design to the glass with masking tape
the masking tape is in place on the jar

When you decide what you want to etch into your glass, you mask off the negative parts of the design.  I chose to make a sunburst because it is an easy thing to make with just tape, plus it looks nice.

the etching creme is applied

I didn’t have anyone handy to take a picture of the creme being applied, but I use a cheapo plastic paintbrush to apply it.  I also wear rubber gloves, as the etching creme is caustic.  I figure if it can eat off a layer of glass, I don’t want it on any of my sensitive living tissue.   I have done this project with my kids before, but I let them make designs with tape and I applied the creme myself.  The creme is supposed to sit for 5 minutes, but I left it a bit longer.  Nothing terrible happened.

always use rubber gloves for this!

As I washed the etching creme off I used the rubber gloves to get in between the bits of tape, and most of the tape peeled off in the process.  No matter.  I threw the tape away right away because I’m sure there is still some etching creme stuck in it.

without the flash
with the flash

It’s not so easy to get a good picture of this, but I think you can see that the design turned out pretty well.  If anyone has any pointers on taking pictures of reflective clear things, bring ’em on!  I think I will do a skull and crossbones next.  Maybe I can interest some moonshiners in that one.  Or the XXX design from the cartoons that is supposed to denote moonshine or other liquor in the jug.  What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “glass jar etching project

  1. Kathleen July 7, 2010 / 2:06 pm

    Maybe if you put a sheet of black paper in the clear shiny object you are trying to photograph?

    How did you get the etching so good on the points of the starburst? Is that a trade secret?

    • toadstoolmamma July 7, 2010 / 3:19 pm

      I tried the sheet of paper in the jar trick (great minds think alike, and so do ours)…it was too confusing on the sides of the design. I used really thin strips of masking tape and burnished them down good to get the points like that.

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