DIY Etched Glass and Stained Glass Containers

I recycle and reuse when I can, and that means there are always a lot of empty glass jars and bottles hanging around my kitchen. I reuse glass jars to store leftover, make homemade kefir and even to hold paint brushes. Sometimes I use them as impromptu vases or candle holders. Recently, I experimented with DIY etched glass and stained glass container ideas.

While I appreciate the handiness, thriftiness and eco-friendliness of reusing, sometimes I get ja bit ealous of those homes where everything matches and there’s not a recycled jar in sight. I’m not jealous enough to change my ways–because I value saving the planet–but I am envious of a more streamlined aesthetic that those model homes seem to have.

Because I can’t compete, I long ago made the choice to create my own style that’s more conducive to my lifestyle. To that end, I decided to beautify some of my glass jars, at least the ones that I’m using as functional decoratives. I bought some glass paint markers, which are available at craft and home improvement stores, like Michaels and Lowe’s, to use to create my own “etched” and “stained” glass.

* Tip – At the craft store these paint markers can usually be found in the basic crafts department with the other markers, while at the home improvement store they can usually be found on the end caps of the paint aisles.

The process is pretty simple to make your own etched and stained glass containers.

How-to Create Upcylced Stained and Etched Glass Containers

  1. Collect, clean and allow your glass jars to dry completely.
  2. Before working, put some newspaper down to protect your surface from unintended marks.
  3. Seek out pattern inspiration and decide what you want to draw on your jars.
  4. Follow the instructions on how to prime the markers–they do need to be primed in order to start painting.
  5. Either freehand or use a template to create your design. A straight edge or painters’ tape might be helpful in creating straight, sharp lines.
  6. Do be careful about dragging your hand through your design, until the paint is dry it will be very easy to smear.
  7. Allow to dry, usually just a few minutes.
  8. Once decorated, your jars will no longer be safe for food storage. Do only use them for decorative purposes.

Project Ideas

  • Use white glass paint markers to create Scandinavian-inspired etched glass repeat patterns. This technique it particularly gorgeous for candle holders–the white designs are beautiful when candles are light.
  • Decorate bottles as bud vases for special occasions. I used clear soda bottles for my daughter’s graduation party and decorated them in her school colors as festive bud vases.
  • Use bright, saturated colors to create a stained glass effect that it is quite eye-catching.

Image: Jen Wallace