Step #7,592 to Opening a Brewpub: Etch Glassware

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in Brewing, Slider | 5 comments

Die-cutter hard at work

Die-cutter hard at work

I thought I might give some insight into the workings of our obsessive attention to detail for our brewpub. We want our glasses etched with our logo, and since Naomi has been etching glass for years, we decided that we’d do it ourselves. We brought some acid etching cream with us when we moved, along with Naomi’s one true love, a Cricut die cutting machine that can cut custom shapes out of various materials. I put together a simplified version of our logo and cut it out using vinyl shelf paper that would just barely cut through the sticker layer but still leave the backing intact.

If the top sticker layer is cut through just enough, you can peel the complete sticker off and re-apply it to the glass without disturbing the image. If it is cut through too much, all the cuts just come apart and you’re left with a sticky mess. If it’s not cut through enough, pulling the positive parts of the sticker out is nearly impossible.

Steps to etch a pint glass:

Applying the decal

Applying the decal. You will have to look closely to see the cuts

1. Acquire affordable pint glasses. Nearly impossible. Retail cost seems to be around $3-$4 a glass. We’ve been slowly acquiring pint glasses over the last 6 months for $1 to $1.25 a glass from discount sources.

2. Once the logo has been modified for etching, it has to be cut into shelf paper by the die cutter to use as a mask. I get about 24 images to a sheet and then I cut them out by hand, one by one.

3. Wipe each glass down with alcohol. The decal and the etching cream need to hit pure glass and not my oily fingerprints.

Carefully removing positive portions of decal

Carefully removing positive portions of decal

4. Apply the decal to the glass and force out all the air bubbles.

5. Mask the rest of the glass so that we don’t etch anything else.

6. Carefully remove the positive (etch-able) parts of the decal with a razor blade to expose them to the etching cream. This is extremely time consuming, and its speed is dependent on the quality of the die-cutting process. And gender of the worker. Naomi is nearly twice as fast at separating the decals as I am.

Ready for etching

Ready for etching

7. Coat the area with acid etching cream and let sit for the required time, about 10-15 minutes.

8. Reclaim the etching cream. It can be used again, so why waste it? Plus it’s pretty pricey.

9. Rinse the glass.

10. Fill glass with beer and sell.

This process is so time-consuming that no reasonable person would attempt it for mass production. However, we are not reasonable people. We have etched over 85 glasses so far, which took many days, and we will be etching many more. Crazy? Perhaps.

Etching in action

Etching in action

If I pay this much attention to my glasses, think about how much attention I pay to my beer. 馃檪