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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Silhouette Vinyl stencil Glass Etching Tutorial

This Glass Etching post is part 3 of 9...
detailing my 2-year studio remodel project in my basement. This project was no small task. My husband did most of the work. I drew up some rough plans, then I started collecting used items from many sources, while he built and installed. I found antique doors and a printers cabinet,  all my cabinetry and more! It was a good thing that I started collecting some of these items before we started building, as we had to move walls just to make some of the special pieces of furniture fit. 

If you want to catch up on the whole project you can read more in these posts here:

The beginning plans sketched out (don't laugh at the timeline here...Putting it together has truly been a process.)
The story of the Printers Cabinet and Armoire (the debate to paint or not to glad I did not paint!!!)
The Floors this post
The extras 

So a few weeks ago... 
(okay it seemed only that was actually a teensy tiny bit longer than that...) I posted about finding these doors on KSL classifieds.
Do you remember them?

Cause...after checking...It's been a little longer than I thought. I actually posted about these doors a year and a half ago...with intentions of showing you how I'd be using them in my new studio.

Ooops.... you happens...and sometimes things get moved to the bottom of your priority list no matter how much you want to do them.
I was so excited when I found these! 

They came out of an old home in Maine...
and somehow made their way to Utah. I thought I'd get them spiffied up to my liking before winter set in...but low and behold...that winter came and went...then another winter came and went...and soon more than a year and a half had passed.

Finally, we have good weather again, and I had a pocket of time. So I'll show you what I did with them!

First, I painted them! 

That involved chemically stripping the lead paint first...then sanding them, then painting them, then sanding them again to distress them. Finally I stained them to make them look old again. Phew...long process...but so worth it!!!

These doors would be the entry to my studio...
only my husband wanted me to get solid doors so he couldn't see any of my crafty messes from our family room. I promised him that I would etch the glass to break up the view into my new space. That leads me to this here tutorial...because in the process...I learned a lot!

I have to admit, I've never etched anything, or cut vinyl with my Silhouette before...and that probably had a lot to do with the reason this project took a long time to start. I was INTIMIDATED by the process. My creative team and my assistant Jamie have been kind to demo those processes on my blog. I thought I ought to give it a go as well. I should have tried on a pyrex dish first...but instead, I jumped in with both feet.

One of the most difficult steps in the process...
was that I had to decide on a design. I used a blown up portion from one of the papers I designed, and modified the center of one of the tiles to include my logo. I didn't want a continuous roll of vinyl to adhere to the glass. I measured the glass, and decided that 8 12x12 tiles could cover the glass.
After I settled on a design...
I set up my Silhouette Cameo machine to cut vinyl, by simply selecting the vinyl setting. It will tell you what depth to set your blade. Vinyl is typically cut at a depth of 2 and a higher speed. I did end up slowing the speed down from the recommended 8 to a 5 as my design was detailed. 

You will need to move the rollers over one position...
so that your vinyl will feed into the machine properly. To do this, release the blue lever in your cameo machine, then pinch-squeeze-and roll the roller out of the metal slots, and then move them over to the next set of metal slots. I will not lie, my little fingers did not like this part...if you have someone with strong hands near you...ask for a little help. ;)

To cut vinyl...
you do not need to use a cutting mat. In fact, you should not use a mat. The back side of the vinyl will not stick to a mat. From the Silhoeutte control panel, simply choose the "Load Media" setting on your Cameo, and load the vinyl directly into the machine.
Once my vinyl was loaded...
I cut six tiles without my logo and two with so that I could completely cover most of the 14X44 inch high windows.

I peeled off the areas of vinyl,
that weren't part of my design, then I applied transfer paper to my design. (no picture of this step, sorry...kicking myself for that one.)
Once we had cut all my vinyl, and applied the transfer paper to the design, we cleaned the windows thoroughly with rubbing alcohol, and dried them completely. (don't use windex or other cleaners as they may leave a residue which will make adhering the vinyl next to impossible.)

To adhere the vinyl...
you can use a tongue depressor, or scrapper of some sort. Rub all over the design to transfer it. (please ignore my nail-polish-chipped fingernails...I'm totally human and didn't gussy up my nails before taking picts.)

My husband was a dear and patiently worked on one door while I did the other. For a detailed design like this one, you will need to work carefully when lifting up the backing. You may have to partially lay the backing back down if some of the design wants to come up. Just work slowly and make sure you are in good company during this step, as it can be easy to loose patience. (not saying that I did...okay...I did.)
Next we applied the glass etching cream. 
We used Armour Etch. Make sure you wear gloves, and that you are in a well ventilated area. This is a very caustic substance--hence it etches glass. We used our open garage, and set the door up on saw horses. We don't want your skin or lungs etched, so please take precautions. Eeek! 

Then we applied the substance in a thick layer to avoid a blotchy end result. Unless that is what you are going for...

Then, let the etching cream sit. 
It will need to stay on your glass for at least 5 minutes. We left ours on for almost an hour for a deeper etch. Remember, my husband didn't want to be able to see my crafty mess through the his opinion was the longer the better.  However, I do recommend that you follow the manufacturers directions.

Then it came time for the rinse... 
We did this with a garden hose. We couldn't think of another way. A sponge would have been messy...but a hose made me nervous with all of the paint work we had put into it. We just dried everything up really quickly after we put water on the old doors. Yikes!

After the cream was rinsed off,
I scraped off the vinyl stencil with a Pampered Chef scrapper worked like a charm.

The vinyl stencil left a sticky residue on the windows, so I removed it with "Goof Off." "Goo Gone" is another good alternative.

Just be sure that the etching cream is completely removed before using another chemical to remove the sticky. You don't want a chemical reaction.'s the finished result!
 Here's the front...
and...Here's the back...
(Detail of the etching on the glass.)
We were so pleased with the results...
that we decided to hang them that night as well!  (that was a feat all in itself, considering that the doors have to go on the track before being hung.)
So the doors open "barn door" style on a track. 
You can see a glimpse of my studio...which I promise to start showing some of the step by step building progress even if I have to back track a bit to catch you up on where we are with that project.) 

The color is Peacock by Behr.  The photo with the doors closed is more accurate on the color. The color in the office is Tide Pools by Behr. The gold on the walls is custom...we had picked one color, and it was not what we wanted, so we had them mix it with more color until we liked it.
This is the view of the doors from inside of my studio. 
That's fresh new paint, (lead free) sanded and distressed to look old. I think they look even more weathered than how they came when I originally got them with the old paint. 

Now that I've gotten over the anxiety of cutting vinyl and etching glass...I think I might try a few more projects in this category. I LOVE the result! 

I encourage you to give it a go...
I think you will be pleased with yourself too!

Products you can use to make this project:


  1. Wow! What an awesome project! The doors look so beautiful!

  2. I can't shut my mouth, of the stunningness of it!!! woowwww!!


  3. All I can say is WOW!(And I like the fact you were afraid to show your paint chipped nails.)Now I am trying to figure out where I want to do this in my house.

  4. WOW Samantha, these are fabulous. This is something I would love to do to my doors between my living and dinning room. Thanks so much for the inspiration and the brilliant tutorial.

    Michelle x

  5. They turned out awesome Samantha!! Man you're purdy daring to tackle this as a first time etching job!!
    WTGG! and TFS!

  6. I can't even articulate how much I love these! So much work but totally worth it!

  7. First off your doors are beautiful. Secondly thanks for sharing your adventure and the great tips. I just wish I had a place to put some old doors like these, but I think I'll start by etching glass from a picture frame.

  8. Really love ths doors. You have achieved your goal of makinhg it look weathered. Very beautiful. I haven't worked with vinyl yet, but will try it soon. Enjoy your blog so much. TFS.

    Dianne Bell -

  9. Anonymous7:23 AM MDT

    Samantha...this is amazing! I love those doors and the etching is gorgeous! Super jealous!

  10. These are fantastic, and what an adventurous first etching project! You are fearless ! Are these tile patterns available ?

  11. Those doors are some of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen etched. Oh my goodness, you did an amazing job on them. Absolutely stunning!! The intricate work of the design is perfect for the look. Such an inspiration!! Enjoy your new doors!

  12. Absolutely perfect, the etching matches the doors beautifully. Wow! I might just have to try it.

  13. These doors are awesome!! I love the design. I wish i had room to do something like this!

  14. Wonderful. You made it look so easy.

  15. OMGosh! Had to pop in and comment (I mostly lurk ;0P) on how I LOVE how your doors turned out! WOW! Great job and yes, you are brave but look how these turn out when you do something outside the box :) You're amazing with your designs, my friend! xo

  16. Samantha Walker you are the energizer bunny of design! What a fabulous undertaking with fantastic results. Many an hour I've spent hand cutting masks for etching glass. I have recently bought a Cameo and see even more potential for its use. (My brain hasn't gone as far as masks for etching - it's still bogged down with other possibilities) I would have been a nervous wreck etching those puppies! Bravo!

  17. This is great! I like the idea of having the logo etched on the window with the designs; looks fab. We are a company dealing with glass products in Adelaide, and I think this trick will help us for our clients.


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