Etched Mirrors DIY
I love making and giving etched mirrors as gifts or as room decor. There is some planning that must go into them in order for your etched mirror to come out the way you anticipate. Please know that this is an adult craft because this project requires using products with Ammonium/Sodium Biflurides and acetone. Do this project in a well ventilated area wearing gloves and eye protection.
It is necessary to read the warning label on the bottle of Armour Etch and acetone adhering to the cautions and wearing the protective garments recommended by the product.
I’ve been making etched mirrors for over twenty years. The techniques I use professionally are more time consuming than the method I am going to show you in this article.
- Eye Protection
- Plain paper
- Pencil or pen
- Armour Etch
- Mirror 8 x 10 or preferred size
- Stencils (plastic stencils sold in craft sections)
- Paint Remover (Acetone)
- Steel wool
- 8 x 10 Picture frame
*Mirrors can be ordered from shops that cut and sell glass. Tell them that you need a mirror cut to the size of 8 inches by 10 inches so it will fit in an 8×10 frame. Also request that they smooth the edge so that it is not sharp. Buying in bulk of 5 to 10 reduces the price.
Mirrors can also be found in stores just make sure they fit in a frame without the glass frame so consider buying both together.
Designing Your Etched Mirrors
Let the creative process begin! Cut a piece of paper to the size of your mirror that is inside the frame. You can get an idea of where the frame begins and the design should end. Mark where the design should end. Draw you design on your sheet of paper so it can be a template for the mirror.
A good tip is to decide where your picture will go and draw it first by drawing the shape from the stencil you will be placing around your photo.
Continue with the rest of your design.
Etch Mirrors Process
First of all, I recommend to do the photo part first for the reason that it is the most tedious part of the process and if you make a mistake you can easily adjust your design to compensate for it.
- Take your paper design and cut out the shape you drew for the picture to be displayed. Turn the mirror and design over. Place the design on the back of the mirror and trace around the shape with a pencil on the back of the mirror
- Wearing protective gear; in a well ventilated area and brush the paint remover over the shape. Let the acetone sit there about 5 to 7 minutes before attempting to take the paint off the back of the mirror with steel wool.
- Take the steel wool and rub off the paint of the mirror inside the shape you just drew. Use the steel wool to feather around the edges of the shape so it blends into the mirror. You may have to reapply the acetone until you are pleased with the finished result. It doesn’t come off in seconds so don’t get frustrated.
- When you are like the results then wash the back of the mirror off so no residue remain and clean the front of the mirror with glass cleaner.
Applying the design to the front of the mirror.
- Tape your stencil onto the mirror with masking tape. Take a paintbrush (still wearing those protective clothing) and apply thick layers of the etching cream over the stencil area Tip: It is best to brush one direction and then brush the other direction to make sure your area is covered completely.
- Let the cream stand on the mirror. The bottle suggests 5 minutes but I always feel the design comes out too light. I’ve left it on for as long as 12 minutes and not done damage to my stencil. Tip: If you are reusing the stencil in other areas of your design then move to the next area and repeat this step. Wash the front of the mirror and dry completely. When dry, tape the photos on the back of the mirror so they show through the mirror ack of the mirror so they show through the mirror. Put the mirror in a frame.
You will notice that I added my grandson’s name. If you want to personalize your etched mirrors then here are additional directions.
*Do this before putting your photo in the mirror!
You will need:
- Alphabet stencils
- Clear contact paper
- Hobby knife
- Plain paper
1st step: Using alphabet stencils write the name on a plain piece of paper. Cut it to the exact size you want and place it on the mirror. Take clear contact paper and place over the stenciled name. Make sure the contact paper extends past the paper to hold it on to the mirror. Apply the contact paper onto the mirror.
2nd step: Now take a hobby knife and cut out the name through both the contact paper and plain paper so the mirror is exposed. Apply the etching cream over the cut out letters on the clear contact paper. Wash it off in the desired amount of time.
* If you have carbon paper then you can simply just place contact paper onto the mirror and put carbon paper between it and the white paper with the name and trace it onto the contact paper which eliminates the 1st step.
Interested in the professional techniques for etched mirrors? I will be sharing my kitchen project with GayNYCDad’s readers soon so make sure you are subscribed to his newsletters so you do not miss it!
Grace Hodgin has been inspiring people to be crafty for over 40+ years. She is a free lance writer and fiber arts expert residing on the edge of the Ocala National Forest. Grace shares her passion for DIY projects and her vegan lifestyle on her site at blessedelements when not guest posting for gaynycdad readers.