Despite what the internet crowd on other sites tell you, products like vinegar, alcohol, smudge free glass cleaners, pure acetone, glue removers, etc, either do not work or are just not necessary. The problem is, these solutions create a barrier that hinder the Etch Cream from making full contact with the glass.
The fact is, most of the time your glass is just not that dirty. The glass you probably will be working with most of the time will be new glass or glass that is already sitting around your home and only needs light cleaning. If you do need more than soap and water, like for recycled glass or old bottles and are having trouble getting all the crud off (we have a whole TIPS segment on removing labels and glues), we recommend soaking the glass for awhile in very hot tap water and dish detergent (like Dawn) for awhile and then give it a scrub with a nylon scrubbie. Most of the time this enough. If something stronger is still needed, try inexpensive store brand nail polish remover with acetone (non-oily), sometimes this is successful at removing glue but you will have to wash the glass afterward with hot soap and water to remove the residue from the acetone.
If your glass can stand up to the dishwasher, you can clean it in one, but the area the stencil will go on will need to be wiped over with a paper towel dampened with plain water to remove the residue left behind from the detergent.
If your piece cannot be immersed in water (like sandwiched layers of glass, glued together pieces, etc), you can use a glass cleaner, like our high quality, non residue glass cleaner or ordinary blue Windex (not the smudge free kind) and a soft paper towel. You can also use a wadded paper towel dipped in clean very warm water and dish detergent. Avoid handling the area where the stencil will go, the oil from your hands will leave marks in the etching. Wear rubber gloves if touching the glass where you will be working cannot be avoided.
Make sure your glass is dry and room temperature.If the glass is cold, the stencil may not adhere well enough. Inspect the side of the stencil that will be touching the glass before applying it. Make sure there is no dirt, debris, hair or dust stuck to it. Re-check the area on the glass too. Once you have applied the stencil in the desired location, inspect it carefully and make sure that all the edges of the design are firmly attached to the glass.
Peel N Etch stencils and vinyl stencils you cut yourself- With these stencils you have to remove the stencil pieces from the design by hand. Often the edges of the cut lines will lift when pulling the pieces out. If allowed to remain, the etch cream could leak underneath the edge and leave a blurry, ugly spot. Once you have removed all your pieces, lay a piece of paper (we like PC printer paper because its lint free and very smooth) over the stencil. The paper will prevent the tool from damaging the stencil while rubbing over it. Take a burnisher tool and rub over the area on top of the stencil until it is well bonded, Lift the paper from time to time to see if you missed any spots. Pay particular attention to the small, highly detailed cut areas.
There are a number of tools you can use to burnish with, but it should have a blunt flat edge. The easiest to use is our stylus/burnisher 2-in-1 tool #85-2146. One end is pointy to remove the stencil pieces and the other end burnishes down the edges. Other items you can use are a letter folder, old credit card or a Popsicle stick.
Try to weed out the pieces of your design as soon as you apply the stencil. The adhesive backing tends to get more aggressive the longer it sits on the glass and the pieces get difficult to weed out later. It also may leave bits of adhesive behind on the glass, which can be difficult to remove.
Over N Over stencils- If these stencils are not laid down smoothly or evenly, part of the design might buckle or pop up off the glass during etching. Avoid stretching the stencil too much too. Another problem can be the stencil is still wet and the adhesiveness has not returned yet. Pat the stencil on a paper towel and place back on the carrier sheet until it gets sticky again. If your stencil has been used multiple times, there may not be enough adhesive left, so you may need to get a new one or spray it with some stencil adhesive (#61-2731).
Rub N Etch stencils-Something that can happen when applying these stencils is the entire stencil design pops off the plastic cover sheet and falls to the glass before it has been sufficiently rubbed down. When this happens, put the cover sheet back in place over the stencil and finish rubbing it down.
Re-inspect the entire project one last time before patting on the cream. Any tiny speck of foreign matter in the areas where you will be applying the Etch Cream can marr your results. Wipe anything you find off with an ever so slightly dampened, soft paper towel. If something stubborn is stuck to the glass, try carefully picking it off with the point of the stylus or craft knife.
Hold the glass up to a bright light. It will help reveal anything you may have missed. Double check that all your masking tape is overlapped, that there are no gaps or spaces where there should not be any. Be sure you have surrounded the stencils sufficiently with tape so the rinse water will not run over any exposed areas. This includes inside an open container. Plan the path you want the rinse water to travel. That entire area needs to be covered with tape so the rinse water does not "haze" the glass (the etch cream can still have some potency in the rinse water) or puddle anywhere. Turn mugs and jars upside down to rinse so no rinse water goes inside. Tilt flat objects so the water runs off in one direction.
Since etch cream starts etching the second it hits the glass, how you apply it is how it is going to look when you are done. The most common mistake is, brushing the cream on the stencil like you are painting. This leaves a streaky finish where all the brushstrokes show and the design will not be that bright and evenly frosted. This is particularly a problem when etching lettering. Since letter stencils have very little surface area to them, improperly applying the cream will not result in a very bright and readable lettering.
Since evenly frosting large surface areas can be difficult and glass can be unevenly hard, Etch Cream is not recommended for large, solid areas. We recommend that large solid areas be sand blasted. Small rounded glass objects that you wish to totally frost may be a candidate for Etch Bath (#15-0275)
Start by properly loading your brush. Whether you are using a bristle brush or a foam brush, properly loading the brush will make it easier to apply the cream to the stencil. Dip your brush in the cream and load the brush so it is full, but not dripping. Wipe back one side of the brush and turn it over towards the stencil. With the flat side of the brush, PAT the cream onto the stencil randomly until the stencil is covered with about one quarter of an inch of cream. Once the stencil seems covered, you can now take the brush and push it around to insure you have covered all the nooks, crannies and burst any air bubbles.
6. Correct Etching Times
It is important for many reasons to leave the Etch Cream only for the correct amount of time. If you do not leave the Etch Cream on long enough, the cream will not have enough time to react with the glass. Too long can leave scorch marks on the glass or weaken the stencil.
The correct amount of etch time for the Rub N Etch stencils is 2 minutes. any longer and the stencil may start to break down, creating a blurry image
For Over N Over stencils, Peel N Etch stencils and hand cut vinyl stencils- 5 minutes max. The total effectiveness of the Etch Cream will take place within the first five minutes. Leaving it on any longer will not be better, but may risk your results.
Sometimes the problem is the glass itself. High leaded glass, like crystal, which is very hard, may be resistant to the Etch Cream. It will either not etch very brightly or not at all. Sometimes the result can be an uneven cloudiness instead of being nicely frosted, have a burned looking spot, or etch better around the edges and leave the middle very lightly etched. Etching on every day glass or dollar store clear glass usually etches the best. If you prefer the crystal, we suggest you use the Sand Etch kit instead of Etch Cream (note: you cannot use Rub N Etch stencils with the Sand Etch) . Also, glass is unevenly hard, so some spots will etch better than others, although most times it is not that much of a problem if you are using everyday glass. If you wish to etch glass bakeware, Pyrex will not etch with the Etch Cream, other brands of glass bakeware seem to etch just fine.
I hope these tips have helped you understand more about how to get better etching results on your projects. For more great tips and tricks, please visit the rest of the "Tips and Tricks" section here in Etchtalk.
Article Posted: 05/11/2018 12:13:14 PM