Here’s a simple trick I discovered for etching designs on glass bottles using the bottle’s label as a built-in resist.
Step #1: Select and prepare bottleNext
- I've been holding onto this bottle of 2006 Coppola Encyclopedia Tempranillo for a couple of years. The wine itself was really only suitable for cooking, but I love the bottle because it has a representation of the resveratrol molecule molded into the side.
- This process probably requires a bottle with an adhesive plastic label. A sure sign that the label is suitable is is that parts of it are transparent.
- If you're going to cut your bottle, do so before attempting to etch a design on it, as the cutting process is considerably more failure-prone than etching.
Step #2: Draw design on labelNext
- Use a permanent marker or whatever you can find that will stick to the label.
- Try to choose a design that complements your bottle. I chose a ball-and-stick model of the ethanol molecule to complement the resveratrol molecule molded into this bottle.
Step #3: Cut out positive areas of designNext
- Using your hobby knife or razor, carefully cut around the edges of your design.
- Lift the edges of the cut-out areas using the blade of your knife or razor.
- Finish peeling off each positive cut using a pair of tweezers.
Step #4: Clean up stencilNext
- Wipe down the cut stencil with a paper towel generously soaked with rubbing alcohol. This will remove any residual ink and, most importantly, clean any remaining adhesive from the cut-out areas.
- To make sure the remaining stencil is firmly adhered to the bottle everywhere, wrap a scrap of paper around the bottle, over the label, and rub it briskly with the side of your marker.
Step #5: Apply etching creamNext
- Generously daub etching cream over the exposed positive areas of your design using a brush.
- Leave the etching cream in place 5 minutes, or whatever the label says, and then wash away all traces of the cream with plenty of warm water in the sink.
- Glass etchants are toxic and should be handled with care. Wear gloves and goggles and follow the label directions closely.
Step #6: Remove remaining label and clean
- Using your hobby knife, or just your fingernail, lift one corner of the label and peel it off.
- Give the etched design one final cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a paper towel to remove any leftover adhesive.