OK, let's get down to brass tacks here. The last project is probably the oldest of the bunch. Here's hoping I remember enough about the process to provide a decent run-down...
|Polka-dot dish with lid|
And tougher to photograph but cooler in person: an etched mirror.
glass etching cream (I used Armour Etch. You can find it here.)
vinyl stickers, stencils, or contact paper for your pattern design
some glass item, check thrift stores (The mirror was $7.99 at a craft store.)
The etching cream is a mix of several different acids and chemicals which eat away at the glass to produce an etched effect. So, it's a good idea to wear gloves when using the etching cream and work on your project in a well-ventilated area. I'm going by memory here (and we're talking something like 5 years ago), so read and follow the instructions on the bottle. To the letter, people, to the letter!
For the glass dish: I used circle stickers, purchased at a craft store, and this is probably the way to go for your first attempt. There are tons of possibilities, and using the stickers is super easy.
For the mirror: I created a pattern, traced it onto contact paper, and cut it out. That route is a bit more time intensive but not too difficult, so don't be discouraged!
One other thing to consider before getting started: etching cream works best for small projects. If you need to etch a large design, you're probably better off going the glass sandblasting route, which I know nothing about. The bigger the space you try to etch with etching cream, the more likely you are to get an uneven etch. It'll look streaky and a little patchy. Yeah, this has happened to me before and there's really no fix. So consider your design carefully.
Apply your stickers or contact paper in a pleasing design. Make sure there are no air bubbles; you need a good seal, especially around the edges because anything not covered by the sticker is going to get etched. Believe me, the cream will seep under your stencil if you give it half a chance.
Lay down some newspaper because your project will need a place to hang out while the etching cream does its thing. Put on those gloves. Apply a thick layer of etching cream to all the sections not covered by your stickers. I believe the instructions recommend painting over each section several times--first in one direction, then the other--to help create an even etch. After you've applied the cream, your project will need to sit so the cream can work its magic. Check out the bottle for the recommended time because I honestly don't remember (10 minutes? 30 minutes? Read the instructions!)
After the cream has sat on the glass for a while, you'll need to rinse it off. You should probably wear your gloves for this step. Also, consider where you're rinsing. If you have a stainless steel sink, the cream could do a little unwanted etching on the way down the drain, so a bathroom or workshop sink might be a better idea. I always started the rinsing process before removing the stickers. Once all the etching cream is gone, peel off your stickers or contact paper and voila!
Everyone will be so impressed!