Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Big Ass Glass

A year after I originally planned to do so, I finally etched Big Ass Glass into my big-ass glass. Photos when I get some more light. A how-to for those so inclined to etch something into one of their own glasses

You'll need the following:

  • Armour Etch glass etching cream (or any brand of etching cream).
  • Access to a laser printer or copy machine. An ink-jet printer will not work.
  • Access to a computer with some sort of image-editing software (I used Photoshop).
  • An iron.
  • At least one 8.5x11" sheet of stickers protected with some sort of non-stick backing (the stuff you peel off the sticker when you stick it to something).
  • A glass you want to etch.
  • A small paintbrush (an art paintbrush, not one you'd paint a house with).

A bit of theory on how this works. Laser jet printer toner when in a cartridge is a dry powder. When a page is printed, this toner is melted and pressed onto the page. If we can print to a sheet of paper such that the melted toner won't stick very well, we should be able to melt the toner off the paper and get it to stick to something else, in our case a glass.

Now to the procedure.

  1. Create your design in the image editor of your choice. My design was simple: the phrase Big Ass Glass in an old English font. Keep in mind that your design needs to be simple enough that it can be etched to glass.
  2. Invert the colors so the area you want etched is white and the background is black.
  3. Horizontally flip the image. You now have a design for an iron-on stencil.
  4. Remove the sticker sheet from its backing. Discard the sticker sheet; all we need is the non-stick backing.
  5. Check how you need to insert the backing in the paper tray for it to print on the non-stick side. For my laser printer, I needed to insert the sheet face down. Insert the backing into the laser printer.
  6. Print several copies of your design onto the sheets of non-stick backing. If you can do this with one sheet, great. Otherwise, you'll need more sticker sheets. I used four copies and still didn't get a perfect transfer to my glass.
  7. Turn your iron on its highest setting.
  8. Tape the stencil to the glass.
  9. Rub the stencil with the iron. This takes a long time (I think it took me several hours to transfer the four copies of the stencil to the glass. You need to make sure the glass gets as hot as possible so the toner melts and sticks to the glass. If the inside of the glass is visible and the glass is clear, you might be able to look through the inside of the glass to see if the toner is melting. Melted toner will look darker than the unmelted toner.
  10. Let the glass cool a little bit, then remove the stencil. It can still be quite warm, but you don't want to remove the iron and immediately pull off the stencil.
  11. Repeat until the everything you don't want etched is covered with toner or until you're sick and fucking tired of rubbing your goddamn glass with a motherfucking hot iron (guess which option I chose).
  12. Following the instructions on the bottle, apply the etching cream. Let it sit on the glass for the amount of time specified on the bottle (I let it sit for about a minute and a half).
  13. Rinse off the etching cream and toner. You should now have a nicely etched glass or in my case, an etched glass which looks good enough for a first attempt.

Thanks to Forrest for telling me about the laser printer stencil method, thanks to the Internet for giving me the idea of using sticker backing as stencil paper once I discovered photo paper wasn't working.


Blogger Forrest said...

Glad to give you the pointer. I'd never heard of using sticker backing, but it sounds like it worked well.

I wonder if you could use circuit board photosensitive mask for the same purpose? It would be a lot easier... coat the glass, print your art on a flimsy and expose to UV, then develop. But I have no idea how well it would hold up to etchant.

12/14/2006 2:10 AM  

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