Framed Horse Glass Etching (Tutorial)

It’s Silhouette Challenge time!
The August challenge theme is “Decor” with “Wood” as the bonus theme.
Woohoo! I hit ’em both this month!
Check out the end of this post for links to the other Silhouette projects in the challenge.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.

I live in an area where horseback riding is a Big Thing. It defines the city internationally—basically the quintessential experience one associates with this part of the world—so it was only a matter of time before some of my projects took on a horse-y feel.

I made this framed horse head as a thank you to a teenager in my life who generously shared her horses and expertise with my young house guests a while back. Like many teens around here, H is nuts about horses, so I thought she might like to add this glass etching to the other horses on her bedroom wall.

I’ve included the Silhouette cut file below in case you’d like to make one of your own.

Free Silhouette cut file from whatchaworkinon.comSilhouette .studio3 Horse file HERE.
Silhouette Legacy v.2 Horse file HERE
SVG Horse file HERE
Personal use only.

This post includes affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here

What you need…

  • 8″ x 10″ Frame – I used an Ikea “Virserum” frame
  • Armour Etch etching cream
  • Small foam brush
  • Vinyl – to use as a stencil. Any temporary or permanent vinyl such as Oracal 631 or 651 will work, I used Con-Tact paper because I didn’t want to sacrifice any of my 631 or 651.
  • Transfer tape – to transfer the vinyl stencil to the glass. I used Cricut brand because that’s what I had on hand.
  • Squeegee – I like the blue 3m squeegee (it’s large and flexible)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) – a few drops
  • Facial tissue to use with the alcohol – a few
  • Small craft knife – an old paring knife will work well
  • Rubber gloves
  • Newspaper
  • Black cardstock – one 8″x10″ piece
  • Black craft paint
  • Paint brush – like you would use for walls, small 2-2½”
  • Silhouette machine to cut stencil – my Cameo is powered by Silhouette Studio Designer Edition version 3.3.638
  • Sink with running water – plastic or stainless steel, NOT porcelain!

I should note here that the etching cream is serious acid—the sort of thing your high school chemistry teacher kept locked up—so be sure to read the label warnings and follow the safety precautions.

I’ll include a brief overview and photos of this project, but for more detail about glass etching, check my Pi(e) plate project post. It contains even more glass etching info..


At first, my plan was to forego the mat that came with the frame and have the horse fill the 8″ x 10″ frame, but I liked how the mat addFramed glass-thced horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.ed an extra dimension to the framing—made the horse seem more artsy and important—and it raised the glass about an eighth of an inch from the back, which allowed slight shadowing behind the etching that was pretty cool. So I opted for the smaller horse plus mat.

The white mat was way too stark, though, so I painted it black with regular craft paint, lightly bouncing my paintbrush on the wet paint to give an overall stippled effect instead of brush strokes.

In the file, you’ll see that the horse is inside a 4″ x 6″ rectangle that also cuts. When you mark off the same 4″x 6″ rectangle on the glass, the stencil fits in the glass rectangle like a hand in a glove. Accurate placement is a breeze.

Cutting…Quick tip when cutting vinyl from Whatchaworkinon

The stencil is applied to the side of the glass facing the inside of the frame—in other words, backwards—so if it matters to you which side the mane is on, then cut a mirror image of what you want. To mirror an image, simply select it, click the ‘Open the Replicate Window’ then ‘Mirror Left’. FWIW, I prefer the mane on the left. It seems friendlier somehow.

In the Cut Settings window in the upper right tool bar, I used: Cut Mode: Standard, Cut Style: Cut, Material Type: Vinyl, Blade: 2, Speed 3 (I get into less trouble when I slow things down), Thickness: 4 (low number = less likelihood of the blade catching on corners), and Double Cut box checked.

Cut and then weed as you normally would with a hook tool or dental pick to expose the stencil design.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.

Preparing to etch…

STEP ONE: Trim the backing even with the stencil, and then apply a piece of transfer tape (slightly larger than the stencil) to the design. Burnish it (rub & press) really well with a squeegee or gift card.

STEP TWO: Clean the glass surface with a Kleenex tissue and a few drops of isopropyl alcohol to get rid of any grease, dirt, and fingerprints. Let it dry.

STEP THREE: Mark off a 4″ x 6″ area in the center of the glass with painters tape. To mark off exactly in the center, measure the width of the glass, subtract 4″ (the width of the stencil), and divide by 2 to find out how much glass should be on either side. For the width, I needed the tape to be placed 1 3/4″ from the glass edge on both sides. I plopped the glass onto a quilting ruler (clear with black & yellow lines), lining up the glass edge with the ruler edge. Looking through the glass to the ruler, I could easily see where to place the tape at 1 3/4″. How to center or place a glass etching stencil EXACTLY where you want it | whatchaworkinon If you don’t have a ruler like this, you can use the grid on a cutting mat, or even measure with a measuring tape. Just make sure the painters tape is the right distance from the edge from top to bottom. Repeat with the other side.

Do the top and bottom the same way. Calculate the distance from the top and bottom edges to the painters tape: measure the height of the glass, subtract 6″ (the height of the stencil), and divide by 2. Place painters tape that distance from the top and bottom edges of the glass as you did with the side pieces. You’ll have something like this:
Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.You want to be super accurate with the placement of the stencil. If it’s off, the horse will definitely look off because the mat will remind you where center is and whether the design is parallel to the frame. In cases like this I always use the hinge method to get the stencil on straight. Here’s how it works:

STEP FOUR: With the backing still attached, position the stencil on the glass so that it fits right inside the tape margins. It’s not stuck to anything, just sitting there.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.STEP FIVE: Place a strip of painters tape across the horse, somewhere near the middle, to hold the stencil in place.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.STEP SIX: Peel the top of the stencil away from the backing until you’re stopped by the painters tape across the middle. Using scissors, cut off the backing close to the stencil. Slowly roll the exposed stencil onto the glass, using a scraper or gift card to make sure the stencil goes on flat with no bubbles.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.STEP SEVEN: Remove the painters tape across the middle. Lift up the bottom of the stencil—backing and all—then peel off the backing and slowly roll the bottom of the stencil onto the glass as you did in STEP SIX. Burnish well and then firmly press the stencil edges with your finger so they’re as stuck to the glass as they can be.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.STEP EIGHT: Carefully remove the transfer tape by peeling it back. Remove the painters tape, but don’t wreck it or discard it. It’ll come in handy in the next step. You should have something that looks like this:Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.STEP NINE: The small stencil makes it easy to position correctly on the glass, but it also means a short distance from where the design ends to where the glass begins. Etching cream starts to etch right away, so you may end up with etched areas you don’t want etched if you don’t clean it off quickly enough. I don’t risk it. To prevent etching cream from getting on the glass, I mask a nice wide area around the design with a couple of strips of painters tape, starting with the masking tape removed in the previous step.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.


STEP A: With the lid securely fastened, shake the etching cream container to mix it thoroughly like you would a small can of paint. Follow the Armour Etch directions and warnings. These are serious chemicals. Wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area for starters.

STEP B: Using a foam brush, gently dab etching cream onto the design. Use a light hand. You want a thick-ish even layer.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.

STEP C: Once the design is covered, let the etching cream do its thing for 10 minutes, then spread the cream around a bit and make sure all the design parts are evenly covered. Wait another 10 minutes, for a total of 22-25 minutes of etching. It doesn’t hurt to leave it on longer, so don’t get twitchy if you’re at 26, 28 or more minutes.

STEP D: Using the foam brush, gently remove any excess cream and return it to the jar. It can be reused next time.

STEP E: Rinse the glass under running water in a stainless steel or plastic sink.

DO NOT rinse etching cream in a porcelain sink.
It will permanently etch the sink.

Hold the glass under running water in one hand and gently rub the stencil with Kleenex tissue until the etching cream is gone.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions. (My Kleenex-wielding hand is busy operating the camera so is AWOL in this picture.)

STEP F: When the etching cream is gone, remove the stencil and tape, and discard. Wash with regular dish soap, dry, and tada! …one very handsome horse ready to be put in a frame.Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.


Assemble the frame—glass (with etching facing the inside of the frame), mat, black cardstock, frame backing—and you’re done!Framed glass-etched horse head from Free Silhouette cut file & instructions.


Looking for more Silhouette projects?

A bunch of us Silhouette folks are sharing home decor projects on our blogs today as part of a monthly Silhouette Challenge. Check out the posts below for some creative Silhouette decor ideas.

The Framed Horse Glass Etching Project DIY Watercolor and Vinyl Quote Art DIY Fall Decor Pillow Wrap DIY Rustic Wood Sign {tutorial} + more Silhouette Home Decor Ideas Pineapple Wooden Welcome Art - Upcycled Pallet Art How To Create A Custom Shaped Photo Mat What NOT To Use Stenciling On Wood DIY Dry Erase Calendar Wooden Pallet Bathroom Wall Art A Feminine Family Wreath Map Themed Decor with your Silhouette DIY Lily for Target Candle Holders Nursery Canvas Wall Art No Place Like Home Baseball DoorHanger Personalized Lazy Susan IKEA Hack! What A Wonderful World Wood burning a Frame & Coasters How to Stencil a Pallet Sign Home State Sign

1. Whatcha Workin’ On? // 2. Two Purple Couches // 3. Made in a Day // 4. Ginger Snap Crafts // 5. Architecture of a Mom // 6. Simply Kelly Designs // 7. Crafty Bonds // 8. Practically Functional // 9. DailyDwelling // 10. DIY Just Cuz {Sam} // 11. unOriginal Mom // 12. Decor Adventures // 13. Creative Ramblings // 14. My Paper Craze // 15. Where The Smiles Have Been // 16. Get Silvered // 17. DIYJustCuz {Brittany} // 18. Weekend Craft // 19. Create & Babble



More glass etching adventures:
Pi(e) Plate for your Math Nerd
Whimsical Etched Vase
Etched Flattened Wine Bottle Cheese Tray
Starfish Nursery “Love You” in Etched Glass Frame
Etched Christmas Glass Balls
Silver & Gold Etched JOY Mirror
If you liked this project and would like to know when new projects appear on Whatcha Workin’ On?, subscribe. I’ll send you an email each time a new project is posted!





28 thoughts on “Framed Horse Glass Etching (Tutorial)

    1. Thanks, Rachel. :^) I like the crispness, too. It’s well worth a little extra time up front to make sure the stencil edges are good and stuck down so no cream sneaks underneath. And, yes, the teen I made it for was thrilled with it. Teen score! LOL.

    1. You’re welcome, Mackenzie. The hinge method totally upped my game. Now I’m able to place vinyl *exactly* where I want it, *every* time. Love little tricks like that. :^)

  1. This turned out so great, I’ve been eyeing that etching cream not sure if it worked well or not but it obviously does! It looks so professional, you should sell it! 😉 Also, I really appreciate the way you laid out the details of the tutorial, it’s helpful!

    1. Thank you, Sam! :^) Yes, yes, this etching cream is wonderful—much easier to use than I thought it would be. So now you know it works and you know what to do, what’s your first glass etching project going to be? ;^)

        1. I know that’s something I’d like. :^) And what a great way to keep from losing your wine glass when you have friends over. Good luck with it!

  2. I’ve never thought to etch directly onto the glass of a frame – what a great idea! It looks really nice. And thanks for the cut file – my mom is a horse lover, I’m sure I can think of a way to use this for her!!

    1. Thanks, Meredith. I wasn’t sure how well it would work—if you’d even be able to see the design against the frame background—but it turned out beautifully. I’ll definitely do it again. I look forward to seeing what you create with the file!

    1. Thanks, Pam! I love it too, for those very reasons. :^) I can’t take credit for it, though, as the basic image was a clipart find. I just tweaked it a bit to fit the frame & scale before turning it into a cut file. My teen horse fanatic loved the framed etching.

  3. Eff, I love the way your horse frame turned out! The design you chose is so pretty. Horses have always been my favorite animal and I used to ride and compete in high school.

    1. Thanks, Emily. :^) I liked this design because even though the lines are simple, they really give you the feeling of the wind moving through the mane. Once a horse person, always a horse person, eh?

  4. This is so clever and unique! I always think of etching glasses or even coasters, but I love the idea of framed art. And painting the mat and using dark backing is perfect. Thanks for the free cut file too….and as a KY girl, I’m very familiar with living in a horse-obsessed area as well! 😉

    1. Thanks, Christine. This was my first time etching picture frame glass and you can bet it won’t be my last! I love that it turns even the simplest etching into art. High five to a fellow dweller among horses. :^)

    1. Oh, man, is doing that now? I’m disappointed and dismayed. I chose that download site over others because it *didn’t* ask downloaders to sign up or download apps/software. I’ll look into it, and may change. In the meantime, I’m so sorry you had trouble downloading this file, Di. I’ll email it to you, so you’ll have it for sure.

      I hope you’ll try and download other Whatcha Workin’ On? files in the future. I’ve tried but I can’t seem to get the request you encountered, so it sounds like it doesn’t happen with every request, but if you do get the request again, look for a way to exit out of it to go right to the download without signing up or downloading their app first. The other sites I spoke of above that do this sort of thing, usually have some way to do that.

  5. Even the attachment you sent won’t work I think maybe it is because I have Windows 10. I have to open Adobe first and then I try and still won’t open. thanks for trying to help.

      1. Aaaand, we figured it out. :^) I gave her a few things to try…checking the version of Silhouette Software she was running to see if she needed the legacy version instead of .studio3, and offering alternative ways to open the files in the Silhouette software. BUT…it turns out Di has a Cricut, so that’s why the Silhouette files won’t work. File closed. :^) #beenwatchingtoomanyTVcrimedramas

  6. Wow, I found this through @Pinterest . Don’t know how I missed it. Great tutorial as always. Awesome detail and the pictures are so helpful I cannot tell you Eff. Thanx for your incredible help to all of us!

  7. Awww, thanks, Jerri! :^) I love glass etching. There was a time where no glass in my house was safe. LOL I think this must be my favorite etching project so far.

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