How to Etch Ceramic Using etchall Etching Cream

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Did you know that etchall etching cream can be used on surfaces other than glass? It’s true! etchall  creates a permanent etched surface not only on glass but on porcelain, marble, slate, and today’s project – ceramic! With the help of etchall etching cream, I turned an inexpensive ceramic stoneware salad plate into a really cool serving dish. Let me show you how!

What You’ll Need:

Some of the products used in the tutorial were provided by etchall, but all instructions and opinions are my own.

Step 1: Test the “etchability” of the Ceramic

Etching with etchall creates a permanent design on ceramics by removing the ceramic glaze from the surface. Unlike normal clear glass which etches white, ceramic surfaces usually etch to a muted shade of the object’s original color. 

Before launching into my project, I tested the etchability of the ceramic plate by using a toothpick to apply a small amount of etchall to the underside of the plate. I let the cream sit for 15 minutes, then rinsed it off. The result was a light gray etch (which is what I expected to see since the plate is dark grey), so I knew it was okay to proceed. 

testing a ceramic plate to check for etchability with etchall etching cream

Note: Because the etching process removes the protective layer of ceramic glaze, the etched area may stain if it comes in contact with dark liquids or certain foods. Keep this in mind when using etched ceramic as a serving piece.

Step 2: Create the Stencil

I used Silhouette Studio to create my stencil but you could do something similar in Cricut Design Space. (You can even use Silhouette Design Store files in Design Space!)

First, I drew a square the same size as the inside square of the plate (5-½ inches). Then I opened the design in my  workspace, resized it, and centered it within the square.

stencil design in Silhouette Studio for etching with etchall etching cream

I cut the stencil out of etchmask stencil material on my Silhouette Portrait using the Vinyl, Glossy settings.

design preview in Silhouette Studio for etching with etchall etching cream

Step 3: Weed the Design & Apply Transfer Tape

To weed the design from the stencil, I removed the areas that I wanted to be etched. 

weeding a stencil for etching with etchall etching cream

Then I used an etchall etchmask transfer sheet to remove the adhesive stencil from its backing.

Step 4: Apply the Stencil

Before applying the stencil, I cleaned the plate with a small amount of rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth to remove any dust and debris.

At this point, I realized that the area in the center of the plate was not a perfect square, so I decided to use the hinge method to apply the stencil. This allowed me to easily adjust the placement of the stencil before adhering it to the plate. 

I placed the stencil back onto the paper backing (making sure to put it on the shiny side and not the paper side, so it didn’t stick to the paper and mess up the stencil!) and then used a long strip of painter’s tape to temporarily hold the stencil in place on the plate.

applying a stencil using the hinge method

Once I was satisfied with my placement, I peeled the top half of the stencil away from the paper backing toward the painter’s tape “hinge”. Then I trimmed away the backing and used a squeegee to carefully apply the stencil to the plate, working from the center (hinge) upward, and smoothing out air bubbles as I went.

trimming the backing from a stencil

Then I removed the strip of painter’s tape and applied the remainder of the stencil to the plate.

smoothing out an etching stencil with a squeegee

Once the stencil was applied, I removed the transfer sheet and covered the exposed edges of the plate with painter’s tape, taking special care to seal all the edges of the stencil.

taped design on ceramic plate for etching with etchall etching cream

Step 5: Apply the etchall Etching Cream

I used my etchall squeegee to apply a thick layer of etchall etching cream over the stencil and let it sit for 15 minutes to fully activate. (It doesn’t hurt if it sits longer, but you do need to wait at least 15 minutes to get a good etch.)

applying etchall etching cream to a stencil

Tip: When you apply the etching cream, think of it like you are frosting a cake. Don’t scrape the squeegee against the stencil, but instead glide it over the surface of the design, leaving a layer of cream between the stencil and the squeegee.

Step 6: Rinse & Reveal

When 15 minutes had passed, I scraped off the excess etching cream and returned it to the etchall container. (etchall is reusable, but should never be stored in an unmarked container. By law, etchall has to remain in it’s labeled bottle.)

I rinsed the plate under warm water to thoroughly remove the remaining cream, stencil, and painter’s tape. Then it was time for the big reveal!

rinising an etching stencil under running water

Tip: Don’t be alarmed if you don’t see the etched design right away. Just as with glass, the etching did not show up very well when the plate was wet, but was fully revealed as soon as the plate dried.

rinsing a ceramic plate etched with etchall etching cream

Pin this idea for later!

I love how this project turned out and am so excited to try etching even more materials with etchall etching cream. I hope you’ll give it a try too! If you have any questions, leave a comment below or come visit me over in the Silhouette Crafters by Design Facebook group. I’m always happy to help!

Until next time,

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  1. Lycia:
    This is not only a lovely finished project but your pictures and explanation of the “How to” was great.
    Each step was showing how easy it is to etch using etchall. Your instructions could be applied to glass, mirror, marble and slate. Thank you for a project well done. Look forward to your next project.

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