Elevate a plain $15 mirror to become a decorative, etched stunner with a craft knife and etching cream.
1 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Etched glass often commands a hefty price tag. But creating a custom engraved look yourself is easier and less expensive than you may think. With the help of a stencil and some etching cream, a simple beveled mirror can take on a more elegant look. A border design, like a Greek key, adds the illusion of a frame plus some architectural detail. The necessary supplies, including an inexpensive beveled mirror, can be found at your local home-improvement store.
2 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Supplies for Project
Clear adhesive vinyl paper and a craft knife: We used Con-Tact brand adhesive vinyl paper and a #11 X-acto knife blade.
Etching cream and a paintbrush: We used Armour Etch Glass Etching Cream and a 1-inch bristle craft brush.
Beveled mirror: We chose one from Lowe’s—a steal at around $15! A rectangular shape is easier to frame with your pattern.
Pattern or stencil: Look for precut stencils at etchworld.com, or design your own pattern. We used a photocopier to create our pattern.
3 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Create and Apply Your Pattern
Choose your design. There are many great stock stencils, but for a custom design, copy a favorite pattern on a photocopier. We enlarged our design to be more dramatic and then made enough copies to frame the mirror. With the custom pattern copied, cover the entire surface of the mirror with the adhesive vinyl paper. Smooth on slowly to avoid air bubbles. Then tape your pattern into place.
4 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Cut Out Your Design
Cut out the part of the pattern you want to be etched using a craft knife. We cut on all sides of the dark portion of the Greek key pattern. Be sure to make precise cuts, pressing firmly so that the knife cuts through both the pattern you taped down and the adhesive paper. (You will not harm the mirror with firm pressure.) When finished cutting, carefully remove the pattern and the cut-out parts of the adhesive paper, exposing part of the mirror. You’ve created the stencil.
5 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Etch Your Design
Wearing latex gloves, use a craft brush to apply a thick layer of etching cream over your stencil, being sure to cover all of the exposed mirror. Brush first with up-and-down strokes, then go side to side to ensure even coverage. Allow the etching cream to remain on the mirror for at least 10 minutes. Take the mirror to the sink, and wash under running water. Peel off the remaining adhesive paper, and clean the mirror using window cleaner. You’re done!
6 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Display Your Mirror
Prop your mirror on a dining room buffet with a pretty tray or artwork. It works well in a variety of other settings such as in the bath or above a mantel.
7 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
More Ways to Etch Glass
Try this technique on any type of mirror or glass. We upgraded a set of inexpensive glass tumblers with store-bought numerical stencils and some etching cream following the steps above. These numbered glasses are party ready—nobody will forget which glass belongs to whom! A set would make a great handcrafted gift perfect for entertaining.