Day 94: Glass Etching

Monday, 9 January 2017

Two agenda items in JanTerm today: glass etching and a tour of Home Depot. We spent the morning practicing glass etching on any of about 100 wine bottles graciously donated to our class. Below are two examples.


This student put his last initial on two bottles — perhaps to use for serving water at the dinner table.


Catch ’em all! The Poké Ball on this brown bottle came out great.


  • something glass to etch on
  • Armour Etch cream
  • popsicle sticks or paint brushes for spreading the cream
  • painter’s tape for masking off the glass
  • xacto knife for cutting out your design

Time: about an hour to design and hand-cut your stencil plus 5 minutes to etch.

One of our biggest lessons here was that students need to develop an understanding of positive and negative space for etching. For instance, let’s say you want to etch a turtle on a bottle, so you start with this Creative Commons-licensed image:


So, you’re gonna have to hand-cut this out of painter’s tape applied to the bottle. What are you going to cut and what will you leave behind? We had to get the kids to understand they needed to reduce the image down to something like this:


Then we had to have a chat about which you want to etch (and therefore cut out of painter’s tape) and which you want to leave untouched.

Ok, so etching was done and it was time to visit Home Depot. We have a store very close to school and wanted to show the students how makers can find materials there. Von, the lumber department supervisor, gave us an excellent tour. Students were amazed to learn about MDF, which is basically sawdust and industrial strength glue.

After the lumber tour, we gave the students a scavenger hunt list of materials to purchase for tomorrow’s build — a trebuchet made of PVC! This was a fun and engaging part of the day. (best questions: “What’s epoxy?” and “What’s a wingnut?”)



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