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Pretty Transparent Pattern: Etched Glass with Stencils

Learn how to etch glass with custom vinyl stencils from Modello - DIY etching glass tutorial

Welcome back! I have a great little tutorial for you today. I am going to share how to create patterned etched glass with stencils. I am still working on small home office projects during March on Paint + Pattern. First I made the two stenciled wooden calendar cubes for my postal cubby. Then I used a Modello pattern to create my business logo on canvas. Now I am anxious to show you how I did the etched designs in my barn doors that now hold my logo sign for Blue Sky Style. I actually did this project many years ago, but I share the steps for both permanent AND temporary glass etching for you below.

My house is a home for rescued doors. Originally I purchased a “mother lode” of cool, peeling painted ones from a junk shop for my first faux finishing studio in 2000. I made room dividers with them, then shop merchandise displays when I added a retail location called Feather Your Nest.

Etched Glass & Stencil Tutorial with custom vinyl stencils

Our doors have done some traveling, from studio to studio to home office. For the most part they look more awesome now with all of the extra dents and dings. My absolute, all-time favorites are these matching barn doors. I could have sold them so many times. Time has taken a toll. Now two panes are missing and my temporary etched Modello patterns are fading from months left outside after my move to my home office.

Want to learn how to get this look for yourself on a mirror or piece of glass?

There are two ways to etch glass with stencils:

  1. Use a chemical Etching Creme, which is permanent and actually etches into the surface.
  2. Use a temporary Frosted Glass spray, which you can later remove with a single-edge razor blade.

We are going to use Modello® decorative masking pattern stencils that are vinyl, one-time-use stencils. They adhere tightly to the surface to allow me to spread or spray the etching material on over them cleanly. To find out more about ordering Modello® stencils, visit ModelloCustomStencils.com.

Stencil Supplies and Etching Glass Project

Stencil Supplies for this Project:


  • Modello® custom stencil AchAll109 from the Allover Stencils Collection; white burnishing tool & picker tool which arrive with your order
  • Etchall Etching Creme
  • Frosted Glass Finish Spray available at Michaels, or other brand
  • Color Shaper tool
  • Glass or mirror. I am using new tempered glass store fixture shelves. You could use glass from a picture frame, but it is not tempered and can break easily (so be careful!)
  • scissors, glass cleaner, paper towels, newspapers, rags, painters tape, tin foil or any type of palette, rubber gloves

Before beginning, clean and dry the glass with rubbing alcohol and a lint free cloth. Place it on a surface protected with newspapers.


How to etch glass with custom vinyl stencils - Modello stencils


Burnish both sides of the Modello® stencil with the squeegee. Turn it to the side with the heavier paper that is stamped “Backing Paper Remove First.” To pre-release the design, grab a corner and slowly peel back about half way. With your hand, press it back down. Turn the Modello around and do the same thing.

Turn the Modello® over and hold it up to the light. Find the center and mark it with a pencil. Lay the glass on top with the pencil mark in the middle and measure all around to be sure it is squared up. Draw a pencil line around the glass. Cut out the Modello®, which will fit the glass exactly. Now remove the Backing Paper. Be sure not to let the exposed adhesive vinyl fold over on itself.

Find a corner of the design and line it up with the glass. Gently smooth the Modello into place. Burnish well. Tape the edges of the glass to prevent the Etchall from touching the edges and back of the glass. Remember that everywhere the Etchall touches the glass it is permanent. You can cover the back of the glass with newspaper and tape down also.

Etching glass with custom vinyl stencils - Modello stencil tutorial


Wear gloves. Put a lot of Etchall on the palette. Use the Color Shaper tool or similar soft trowel to smooth a heavy, even layer all of Etchall over the glass. Do it fairly quickly without fussing over perfection. Wait 15 minutes. Remove all of the Etchall with the same tool, and put it back in the container – it’s reusable!

Leave the tape and the design on the glass while you rinse off the excess Etchall under the faucet in the sink. Use a sponge or soft cloth to rub gently over the surface to remove all residue. Don’t panic, when the glass is wet it looks like the pattern disappears. When it dries, the pattern will magically reappear.

Use the pick tool to remove the vinyl stencil. Voila!


Glass and Mirror etching with custom Modello stencils - DIY project from Royal Design Studio

Follow all steps, but instead of using the Etchall, take the glass outside and spray 2 or 3 light coats of  Frosted Glass Finish. Take more care when handling and removing the Modello, because the product is removable with a window scraper and it may scratch.

Custom DIY Window Glass Etching with Modello stencils

Here is an example of a project I did for a client’s master bath using a custom Modello design. Ideally, I would have used Etchall for a permanent pattern, but I did not have access to the window prior to installation in order to do a horizontal application. So, during construction I used an etching spray in a large can with ventilation. It was tricky to get it perfect, but I did and they love it. Of course, no cleaning supplies can be used, just a dry dusting.

Etched glass and stenciled glass DIY tutorial with custom Modello stencils

Are ideas running wild now that you know the basics of etching glass and mirror?  You can find ever more inspiration right here on our Glass and Mirror page on Paint + Pattern. There are also additional tips on how to etch glass on the Modello® Designs website. Check it out!


  1. This looks so cool, Debbie! Love the etched glass.

  2. Thank you Danielle, I really see you trying these for your projects too!

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