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Reverse Glass Etching

Reverse Glass Etching main article image
Posted on June 20, 2022 by Wendy Boulay

I love everything camping, and now that the new summer season has finally arrived, what better time to make yet another accessory for the R.V.? Of course, this reverse glass etching project isn’t just for camping; this quaint mug set celebrates all four seasons…no matter their use! 

Reverse Glass Etching

  • Supplies
  • Digital Products
  • Prepare Your Workspace
  • Cricut Design Space
  • Weeding & Application
  • Etching
  • Rinse & Finish

Supplies Needed

  • 4 Clear glass mugs (or less) – I purchased my set for $10 at Walmart
  • Removable vinyl (or stencil vinyl)
  • Etching cream (I use Rustoleum Tub & Tile)
  • Old paintbrush
  • Protective gloves and goggles
  • Digital Products: “Tree Silhouette”, “Winter Tree Silhouette 1”, “Winter Tree Silhouette 2”, “Winter Tree Silhouette 3” 
  • Alcohol wipe
  • Masking or painter’s tape
  • Transfer tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Weeding tools
  • Cricut cutting machine (or other) and tools
  • Timer

Digital Products

I think it’s fair to say that I have mad love for Creative Fabrica. It is my very favorite online shop to get practically anything that I might need for my projects. They offer one of the largest font databases that I have encountered online but wait, there’s more! 😉

They also have what seems like an endless array of designs, graphics, and crafts – making them truly a crafter’s shopping paradise! 😍

To make this set of reverse etched mugs, you will need to grab all of the tree silhouette designs: “Tree Silhouette”, “Winter Tree Silhouette 1”, “Winter Tree Silhouette 2”, “Winter Tree Silhouette 3”.

Of course, these products are completely optional, but I wanted to make a seasonal set of mugs so these trees work perfectly for all four seasons! They also are the perfect cut file for etching, simple, yet pretty!

tree svgs for etching

Go ahead and download the files, then extract them onto your computer. 

Prepare Your Workspace

When working with etching cream it is especially important that you fully prepare your workspace. The reason being is that the cream is extremely corrosive, so having an organized working area is key to ensuring your safety. Make sure that you have protective gloves and goggles as well before getting started on this project in order to protect your hands from burns.

Once you have everything set up and ready to go, move over to your computer and open up Design Space.

Cricut Design Space

On your clean canvas, upload all four of the tree silhouettes. For the tree design that best represents spring (File entitled: 14 converted), I recommend uploading the .png file as the lines are thicker and easier to cut versus the tiny intricate lines on the actual SVG.

thicker tree lines for cutting

After uploading, you will notice that the summer tree (file: 20 [converted]) is a bunch of different cut layers, so to rectify this simply select the grouped tree and click on the weld button.

Voila! The tree is now one solid piece which makes creating your stencil super easy!

Now you’ll need to determine how large or small you want the final etching to be. To do this, simply use the measuring tape (or ruler) and note the size of the area on the mug that you want your design to be on. Change the size of the trees to fit within these parameters. For my mugs, I had a 4” allowance, so I decided to make my trees all 2” in height.

measure a glass

Now it’s time to cut your stencil! 

Normally for glass etching, you would need to insert a square shape and then use the arrangement tool to send it behind one of the trees. However, as this is a reverse etching, you can eliminate that step entirely!

trees ready to cut

Instead, simply cut out the tree shapes, so click on that “Make It” button! Place your vinyl on the mat to mimic the digital mat, choose the appropriate material setting, and cut!

  • 👉 Vinyl Tip: I highly recommend that you use either removable vinyl or stencil vinyl as permanent vinyl (651) is much more difficult to reposition on the glass, plus, it could leave behind a sticky residue.

Weeding and Application

When weeding your stencils, once again in opposition to regular glass etching, you will only be keeping the trees; much in the same way that you would weed the vinyl when working with standard decals. 

weeding cut trees

After weeding all of your trees, place your transfer tape, clean your glasses with the alcohol wipe, and after it has dried, apply the stencil. 

tree stencils for etching

If you are using squared mugs as I am, applying the stencil should be easy as pie, however, if you are using a standard round mug, it might be a little tricky depending on how large your stencil is. Because of the curvature of the glass, you will want to go very slowly, readjusting as needed to ensure that the stencil is as flat as can be.

  • 👉 Application Tip:  If you are using round glasses, place a roll of masking or packing tape on both sides of the glass – now you can lay the glass on its side for easier placement and application!

Once the stencil has been applied, burnish and then carefully remove the transfer tape. You will want to once again, smooth over the entire stencil making sure that it’s completely smooth and free of any and all air bubbles. A felt-tipped squeegee might be helpful, but not necessary.


  • 🔔 Safety First! It is absolutely imperative to protect your hands, skin, and eyes for this project. Etching cream is corrosive and can easily burn your skin! Be sure to wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and safety goggles.

With your stencil applied and ready for etching, grab some masking or painter’s tape and tape anywhere on the mug that you DO NOT want a frosted look. I decided to leave most of my handle clear so I taped the center area, as well as the top and bottom edges of the mug. You might want to create a different look that is uniquely yours by taping different areas.  

taped mugs for glass etching

When you are happy with the design, it’s time to get your safety gear and put on your gloves and goggles.

Position the glass on its side (see application tip if you are using round glasses) and using an old paintbrush, scoop up a dollop of the etching cream and place it on all of the areas of the mug that is not taped. You will want a good amount of cream covering every part of your etch area, but try to apply it in a fairly even coat. Too thin of a coat will not be enough to etch the mugs.

etching cream on glass

Now all you need to do is start your timer. The instructions on my Rustoleum Tub and Tile etching cream recommend leaving it on for 4-5 minutes, but I discovered this is just not enough time for a nice vibrant etch. The glasses that I am using are quite thick so instead, I left mine on for 25 minutes. Of course, this time could vary depending on how thin/thick your glass is.

During the processing of the etch, you may need to constantly turn the mug while using the paintbrush to replace and catch any drips of the cream. It’s best to do this over a protected surface – while keeping your gloves on!

Rinse and Finish

When the timer rings and if you took them off, put your gloves on for rinsing. One of the wonderful things about etching cream is that it is reusable, so before you rinse your glasses, simply scoop as much of the cream as you can back into the container with your paintbrush to save for another project. Super cost-effective! 💰

Rinse the glass under a running tap with cool water, using your fingers to wipe off the cream. Don’t be nervous! You can’t “rub” the etching off. Remove the tape and stencil as you rinse.

rinsing etching cream

The final etch will be less noticeable while it is still wet, so if you can’t clearly see it yet, don’t worry! When all of the cream, tape, and stencil are off, wash and dry the glass before use.

That’s it! With just a few simple steps you can finish your day by celebrating the seasons with your new gorgeous set of unique glasses that your guests are sure to be raving about!

Have a wonderful summer and Keep on Crafting! 💖

reverse etched glass

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