Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Butterfly Effect

Bring the beauty of a butterfly garden to your patio with a whimsical etched window. Just pick up an old wooden window at the flea market, mask a flower and butterfly design, then etch with real etch cream. As you rinse your window clean, the ethereal image will be revealed!

Wooden window from the flea market
White Con-Tact paper (not shelf liner)
Plaid Silhouette Stencils:
Butterfly 29636
Floral Burst 29640
Chandelier 29637
Armour Etch glass etching cream (10 oz)
Steel chain*
2 Screw hooks (3½")

Sharpie marker
Drop cloth
Window cleaner
Paper towels
Protective gloves
Sponge paintbrush
Kitchen timer

*Steel chain isn’t easy to cut, so measure before you go to the hardware store. Hold your window under the branch where you’d like it to hang. Have someone measure the distance from the window to the branch at each end. One length might be longer than the other if the branch slopes. Get the two lengths cut at the hardware store.

1. Start by making a set of large stickers to use as a mask. To do this trace the Silhouette stencils onto the Con-Tact paper using a Sharpie. Cut them out with scissors but do not remove the backing yet. Arrange the cut-outs on your window to create a pleasing design. Make a sketch or take a snapshot with a digital camera to refer to later.

2. Set the stickers aside, don your gloves, and thoroughly clean the window with window cleaner and paper towels. It is very important to clean any and all oil from your fingers off the window. Any fingerprints will show up when you etch, and your finished project could end up looking like a crime scene!

3. With your gloves still on, peel the backing off the stickers and press your design onto the window. Use your snapshot from before as a guide. Crumple a piece of the adhesive backing into a ball and use the slippery side to rub down all the edges of your stickers. Clean the glass one more time by spraying the window cleaner onto the paper towel and carefully wiping the exposed glass around your stickers.

4. For the etching process, take the window outside and lay it flat on a drop cloth. Be sure you are still wearing your gloves. Using the sponge paintbrush, apply a thick layer of etch cream over the glass and stickers. Your brushstrokes will show, so use a swirling motion to create a pattern with the etch cream. Once your window is entirely covered with etch cream, set your timer for 5 minutes.

5. After 5 minutes, rinse the etch cream off the window with a garden hose. Rub the surface with your gloved hand to help clean the glass.

6. Take off your gloves and peel all the stickers off the window. Rinse again with the garden hose to remove any remaining etch cream. Let the window dry.

7. To hang your etched window, pre-drill two holes a few inches from each end, then screw two hooks into the top of the window frame. Attach two lengths of steel chain to a sturdy horizontal branch in your yard. Then hang the window from the last link in each chain.

Improved With Age: For a garden piece like this, shabby is chic! So keep an eye out for a wooden window with a weathered look. You can pick one up for less than $20.

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