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One-of-a-kind glass gifts ... with easy chemical etching.

One-of-a-kind glass gifts . . .with easy chemical etching

Aglow with back lighting, the etched white wreath in the living room window above gives nighttime visitors an unusual holiday greeting. Centered within its own frame, the wreath's image looks as if it's been sandblasted. Instead, it was etched chemically--using a process that is fast, simple, and surprisingly safe.

The idea comes from Sheryl Fullner, of Everson, Washington, who hosts an annual etching party at which friends add their designs onto a big sheet of glass that the hostess later hangs in her window. We've also adapted the technique to decorate a serving plate and a cooky jar, and to make glass and mirrored ornaments.

Start with any smooth glass object. Cover the glass with a layer of white adhesivebacked shelf paper on which you can draw a design or glue a photocopied image. (Silhouettes, simple geometric forms, and drawings with broad lines make for easiest etching.) Cut away the paper in the shapes you want to etch.

Adding the etching solution

Although older children can draw or cut away the adhesive paper, only adults should handle the solution. It's dangerous to get on your skin; read all precautions before starting.

This solution is a mixture of hydrofluoric acid and soluble fluoride compounds; its chemical attack gives the glass surface a frosted look. Sold in 4-ounce jars (about $5) at most stained-glass shops, it has the consistency of thick pea soup. It doesn't splash or drip easily, but handlers should wear rubber gloves and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area.

To apply the solution, use a soft, broad watercolor brush. On larger areas, expect to see a few brushstrokes on the finished surface; this method isn't as uniform as sandblasting.

After 5 minutes, rinse the surface with cold water; rub lightly to remove all solution. Wear rubber gloves for this step, too. (You can rinse small objects in a plastic bucket and empty that outdoors; rinse larger ones outside, on gravel or unplanted soil, and continue to dilute residue by flushing the area with water.) Clean glass thoroughly after removing paper.

Photo: Easy-to-etch wreath in 2-foot square of 1/8-inch-thick glass gets attractive frame (oak 1-by-2s) and seasonal color (red hanging cord) for holiday display in window

Photo: "Hand-cut' scene transforms inexpensive serving plate into unique family treasure

Photo: For curved surfaces, draw design while paper is flat--then stick it on

Photo: Ornaments--mirror and glass--are framed with tape, hung by thread

Photo: Overlapping leaves in our wreath start with coffee can lid

Cut stencil--3-inch-long leaf shape--in semitransparent plastic lid. With felt-tip marker, draw rings of overlapping leaves onto concentric circles penciled onto shelf paper that covers glass. For our 19 1/2-inch-diameter wreath, we made four concentric circles, as shown at left

Use a sharp craft knife to cut along edges of drawn lines so you leave paper strips about 3/16 inch wide. Lift out each leaf shape to uncovery glass surface. Clean glass to remove any residual adhesive, and press strips to make sure they have made good contact with glass

Paint on thick chemical solution to cover exposed glass (wear heavy rubber gloves). Work with broad, smooth strokes. After 5 minutes, wash off solution with gentle stream of water

Before removing paper, gently wipe glass with damp paper towel; let dry. Check to make sure etching solution covered all exposed areas (repeat previous step, if necessary). Peel off paper and clean glass
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1987
Words:574
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