It's possible to work on glass with etching creams and use
either rubber stamps or actual nature prints to decorate
tumblers, some types of bottles and flat glass. Direct etching
is possible, but often the detail is lost due to the
consistency of the etching cream. This is not always
aesthetically undesirable, but if detail is your thing, the
image can be set up as a resist and we can etch around it.
Here's the short course....
Clean the glass surface
thoroughly to remove any dirt, grease or oils and try to keep
it this clean throughout the whole project. Using water-based
pigment inks, use a rubber stamp or leaf to make a direct
print onto the glass. (If you're working with cylindrical
glass objects, this is often more easily accomplished by
rolling the glass over the stamp than by trying to roll the
stamp around the glass.) Dust this ink image with a detail
grade embossing powder. Use a small brush to remove any
renegade specks and heat. This will then create a detailed
resist to the etching cream.
On the glass, mask off an area
around and slightly larger than your image. Use adhesive tape
to define this area, or lay Contact Paper® over the area and
cut away the desired shape. In either case, be sure that the
tape is firmly pressed onto the glass to eliminate leaks
beyond the edges. Apply etching cream over your resist image
and into the exposed shape. It can be brushed on as per
instructions on the product label, or it can be applied with a
plastic palette knife and spread around evenly with a small
After being allowed to work,
the cream and our resist image can be rinsed away, and the
border tape removed. Clean the glass and all tools
thoroughly... arid there ya go!
The above is the general
approach to the etching with rubber images. Specifically,
there are several things that need to be addressed.
There are two basic criteria for the ink used: 1) it must
be colored in order for us to see it on the glass, and 2) it
must be sticky enough to both adhere to the glass and hold the
embossing powder. The ink suggested above was water-based
pigment inks. Although it is possible to use the kinds of inks
we find in pigment pads used with rubber stamps, this ink is
often too watery and can cause the rubber to slide around on
the glass when we try to transfer a print. I find a more
traditional relief printing ink - like water-based Speedball®
ink - suitable for this task as it is thicker, stickier and
still easily removed when necessary. (Oil-based relief ink is
my preferred medium, but students often recoil at the thought
of using mineral spirits or paint thinner to clean their
rubber. This is a debatable issue.)
Using relief printing inks
usually means crafters must use a brayer to roll out a thin
layer ink on a glass or Plexiglass® plate and then transfer
ink to the rubber. The viscous and tacky nature of this kind
of ink does a better job of keeping the rubber from sliding on
the glass when we transfer a print.
For the beginner, flat glass or truly cylindrical glass
(straight-sided tumblers and many styles of bottles) is
preferred. The flatness of the printing area of a rubber stamp
is easily transferred to these kinds of work surfaces. Bulbous
or fluted glass objects present extra special problems as the
surface has a multi-dimensional character. This problem will
not be addressed in the specific in this class.
Detail grade thermography powders would, obviously, provide
more detail when creating our resist. But detail powders have
a tendency to stick to areas of our glass surface when we
least desire it. Standard grade powders work well enough as
the weight of the individual grains cause them to naturally
fall off the areas of the glass where they are not wanted and
yet still stick to the print we've made which sets up our
Once we have our image embossed, the outer resist needs to be
applied. This will define the border for our design.
When you apply the adhesive
tape or Contact Paper®, be careful to press around the resist
image and not directly on it. This will help prevent lifting
off our embossed image when we remove the unwanted masking.
After we've cut away the desired shape for our project, use a
small piece of tissue or cloth to firmly press the remaining
edges to as to prevent any etching fluid from leaking under
and spoiling our efforts.
Some adhesive tapes designated
at "removable" have a water soluble adhesive and
should be avoided. The etching cream may loosen the mask and
flow unwanted hither, thither and yon.
Glass etching products are highly caustic and can cause
serious injury. Be careful with this stuff! Follow
manufacturers directions carefully and always wear protective
clothing and goggles. Be mindful of local environmental
conditions when disposing of used product.)