Cheers to (and with) Geeky Glassware

I try a lot of projects. Some of them are unqualified successes. Some of them make me realize that I will pay any amount of money so that I don’t have to count perl 1 knit 2 ever again.


And some of them are so simple and rewarding that all I can think is “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”


Glass etching is one of the latter. The process is surprisingly simple. And then you have something you can drink things out of. And I like having things I can drink things out of. Plus, where could I ever buy a glass with this design on it?








  • Armour Etch or some other glass etching paste. This was $12.99 at Michaels for a small bottle that will last through a good number of projects.
  • Gloves
  • sticky vinyl. Or electric tape. (see below.)
  • Glass things. I was told I probably shouldn’t etch the windows, so instead I went to TJ Maxx and bought an assortment of cheap wine glasses, shot glasses and tall miscellaneous beverage glasses.
  • Full sheet printable labels.





You can by craft kits at any craft store that will let you etch lovely, boring and utterly forgettable designs on all of your glassware. However, I decided to go a different path. I wanted to do my own designs, so first I started looking for sticky vinyl. Either Michael’s didn’t have any, or it was cleverly hidden from me. So instead, I bought electric tape to use as a mask.


The first design I drew freehand on the tape then cut out.


The bit of tape you see on the top right corner is actually masking a  place where I cut too far.


After that, I decided that I needed more guidance, so I printed the designs on the full sheet sticker labels and stuck it over the electric tape. (the tape is still needed because the paste will soak right through the paper.) If you can print directly on vinyl stickers, you can omit this step.


Electric tape is tough. It makes doing the thin lines needed to make “art” stand out work.


I used a swivel exacto knife to cut out the designs directly on the glass. This was really the only difficult step, and mostly it’s only difficult because I chose to start out with more intricate designs than is probably advisable. The knife won’t cut into the glass and it makes a nice clean cut through the electric tape.


Once the design was cut, I masked off the rest of the glass, if there was any visible glass close to the design. I then put on gloves and patted on the armour etch.


Two by two, hands of… turquoise.


The package said leave it on for a minute, but it actually needs to be left on for 3-5 minutes. The Mad Art Lab logo below was only left on for a minute, and it didn’t etch thoroughly.


Now, on to the point of this whole project… putting absurdly geeky designs on everyday objects that I will then force friends and family to attempt to use with dignity.


First try: S.H.I.E.L.D. logo from The Avengers, etched onto an utterly useless piece of glass… something that was on sale at Michael’s. This was the one that I did freehand, and while it’s not entirely even, I’m fairly happy with the results.


S.H.I.E.L.D. Now with dramatic lighting.

The parts that look like dust are actually imperfections in the glass. This wasn’t a particularly smooth piece of glass to start with.


Next up: The Battlestar Galactica logo. You know what you want to do when you try a new skill? Make as many long skinny lines as possible. I still need to work on that technique.

I couldn’t find an eight-sided glass.


Third, a logo that is near and dear to my heart: I hope you all can recognize this one. Filled with appropriate crafting accompaniment. (after a thorough washing. You probably don’t want to drink etching paste.)


Fourth: the logo for a conference where several of the Mad Art Labbers will be leading sessions in January, ScienceOnline 2013. In shot glass form. It seemed appropriate. Note: Cutting out perfect circles is really, really, really difficult.


Raise your glass if you belong in our circles.


And a family shot:


Etching glassware: because sharpies on a solo cup just doesn’t work for dinner parties.


Seelix, aka Emily, is a Science Communicator, Forensic Anthropologist, Costumer and QA Analyst, sometimes, but not usually, all at once. Emily can usually be found lurking in dark corners of the internet as Seelix on Twitter, on Google+ and even occasionally at her blog This View of Life.

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  1. Seelix,

    These glasses look cool, especially the one’s with Mad Art Lab’s logo on them!

  2. Quarksparrow – I’m going to try this weekend, but I’m guessing that it probably won’t get very distinct results.

    Michele – I’m considering doing some informal geeky craft demos in the evening – sort of like the #scisweetup or poker events. Most of the crafts I do are pretty simple, and could be don in the bar. This one I’m not sure about, however, I’m not sure I want drunk people handing paste that burns on skin contact, even drunk scientists. :p

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