I've been using etching cream on plain glassware for years, usually with strong graphic elements like numbers or letters. This time, inspired by delicate, floral etched French glasses I saw recently, I decided to go the softer route. I created stencils from a variety of decorative edge punches and etched a border along the rims of small glasses found at various thrift stores.
I think the etchings manage to unite a disparate group of glassware, but I like that the designs don't match. I'll use these to serve various cellos or aperitifs over the summer, but I think they'd make sweet votive candle holders for a summer table or could be utilized in casual wedding or bridal shower decor. You could also implement the same technique and punches to decorate the edges of mirrors, panels of a lantern, around a window pane, or on the glass in a picture frame.
A couple of things worth mentioning - I usually make my stencils from Con-Tact brand vinyl self-adhesive paper. However, I found that I couldn't get clean cuts from it when using more intricate punches. You can try putting a piece of paper under it (which works when you're punching washi tape), but I found a better solution for myself. I had some scraps of Loomtack left over from my decal projects, and I found it to be a great vinyl to use with these punches. I got very clean designs, it held well, and was easily removed. It's more expensive than regular Con-Tact paper, but you only need small amounts for the etching and then you can use the rest for other projects (See Inkbloom for project ideas).
As for glassware, straight sides are easiest to work with, though I've worked with tapered sides as well. The key to success with tapered sides is using a bone folder to make sure gaps are flattened out. You can also cut your stencil into pieces to make it fit properly, but it takes a little practice. Skip rounded glass, it'll be too difficult to get good results. Lastly, you can utilize double-sided tape to mask small areas, like the very rim of the glass. It's also good when you want to create thin lines. I tend to use 1/8-inch tape for delicate designs such as these.
Armour Etch Glass Etching Cream
Decorative Edge Paper Punches (see below)
Loomtack or other self-adhesive vinyl paper
Double-sided tape (optional)
1. Prep glassware by cleaning off any grease, dirt, or fingerprints.
2. Cut a strip of self-adhesive vinyl paper and carefully punch along the entire edge. Remove the paper backing and apply the stencil to your glass. Rub a bone folder over the edges to make sure there are no gaps or air bubbles. In addition, mask off the area under or over the edges of your design with extra pieces of vinyl paper (in case your etching cream should stray a bit).
3. Apply a thick coat of etching cream over the stencil, making sure all open areas are covered. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse it off under running water. Remove the vinyl stencil, then wash and dry your glass before using.