Etching can make a plain glass more distinctive.

How to Put Initials on Glassware

by Rochelle Leggett

Adding initials or monograms is an elegant way to make items more personal, and expensive looking. You can put monograms on a variety of items in your home, including glassware for yourself or as a gift. While there are several ways to etch glassware, etching cream is perfect place to start for a do-it-yourself glassware etching project.

Cover your work area with a sheet of aluminum foil. This protects it from the etching cream.

Clean the glass item that you would like to etch. The cleaner it is, the better. Remember that your fingerprints can dirty the glass, so handle it with gloves after cleaning or only touch areas that won't be etched.

Cut a piece of contact paper to slightly larger than the desired letter size. It needs to be large enough so it's easy for you to handle.

Trace a letter or letters onto the contact paper using the stencil.

Place the paper on a piece of cardboard to protect your work surface, then cut out the letter with a craft knife.

Peel off the contact paper backing and smooth the piece of contact paper to the glassware. The stencil will have small tabs to keep things like the middle of an O in place. If these are present and undesired, carefully cut them out with the craft knife.

Smear a generous amount of etching cream over the letter with a foam brush. Don't get it outside of your piece of contact paper and don't use so much that it starts to run. Don't let any brush strokes show; globs of cream are best for an even texture. Allow the cream to sit for about 10 minutes; consult the instructions on your product for a more specific amount of time.

Rinse the glass thoroughly using plenty of water, then wash the glass with soap. Remove the piece of contact paper, then clean once again with glass cleaner.

Items you will need

  • Aluminum foil
  • Glass cleaner
  • Contact paper
  • Scissors
  • Letter stencil
  • Cardboard
  • Craft knife
  • Etching cream
  • Foam brush


  • You can also cut out a letter or use a letter shaped sticker and place it on the glassware, then put etching cream all over the glassware. This will make a clear letter on frosted glassware rather than a frosted letter on clear glassware.
  • To repeat this process on a large number of items, consider purchasing a paper punch in the desired letter or letters. This lets you simply put a piece of contact paper into the punch, then push down on the punch to get the letter, rather than needing to draw and cut out each letter.
  • If you can't find a stencil in the size or font you want, try printing out a letter on a sheet of paper, then tracing it onto clear contact paper.
  • Stickers, label paper and similar adhesive materials are all suitable substitutes for contact paper.


  • Wear protective gloves when handling etching cream.

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images