Thursday, January 5, 2012

Etch, Etch Baby

Back story:

So, a few years back, my husband's family decided to only give one another gifts we've made at Christmas. The intention was to ease some of the monetary burdens of the season, but more importantly, get back to the real reason to celebrate: the birth of our LORD. While at first it was frustrating (more stuff to do during an already busy/stressful time of year), I have really come to enjoy this tradition. It forces me to start thinking ahead about what I will make, and I enjoy the personal challenge to come up with something unique yet, useful. Plus, (I hope) the gesture is much more appreciated because it comes from the heart.

in 2010, I scanned all of my husband's grandmother's recipes and made a family cookbook. She passed away fall of '09, and that Christmas was really tough on everyone. Holidays were not the same without her famous cooking. Who would make mac 'n' cheese? Lemon poppy seed cake for birthdays? Blonde Brownies at Easter? Gravy at Thanksgiving? I also scanned in photos of her and used them to divide the chapters (a photo of Grandma's house in Louisiana for the Cajun food Chapter, a photo of the whole family at Christmas for the Holiday section, etc). While the cookbooks went over really well (I was asked to make some for the rest of the family), they winded up being a bit...expensive. Binding and color printing for a 70+ page cook book for 7 people isn't cheap.

So this year, 2011, I kept with the cooking theme, but went a bit low key.
While browsing around Pinterest (Add link), I saw this fun idea.

Source: Make it- Love it

Pyrex + Stencil + glass etching cream = Baking dishes with your name
Ding ding ding!!!

I am missing about 80% of the glassware set B. bought me when we first started dating. Sometimes I forget to grab my dish, sometimes my dishes have been "adopted",
but whatever - no more wondering whose casserole dish is whose! For a family that does as many potlucks as us, getting your dishes back is critical.

The post said to use vinyl to cut your own shield, but I really wanted the end product to look professional and wasn't sure I could get that without a fancy spancy cutting machine. So off I went to Goodwill and the Dollar Store to get some cheap-o glass to test the cream and stencils on.

First try.
I tried clear contact paper (ya know, the stuff used to cover books in school). Well, I guess my knife wasn't sharp enough, 'cause I kept tearing the contact sheet with every attempt at a curved letter.

Take two.
I tried using painters tape, as seen on Young House Love (Petersiks, I heart you). Well, the etching cream ate through my tape in, like, a minute, which was not enough time to make the names distinct, but was long enough to leave me with some blurred together letters. Hmmm.

Third time's the charm. Christmas is right around the corner, so I begged and pleaded (ok, I only had to ask once because she's awesome) my friend, A., to make my templates on her fancy spancy Cricut cutter. She sweetly obliged. Whew. Crisis averted.

So below are a few photos and notes from along the way.

-Etching cream is very caustic and will burn if it comes in contact with your skin. Wear gloves, and avoid touching it directly. Also, do this somewhere with decent ventilation and no kiddos or pets around. I did not follow these instructions and had a headache the rest of the afternoon.
-Bad photos ahead

1. Okay, so here are the vinyl stencils A. made. Note, you are really using the negative part of the stencil for this project. Which is nice, since now I have the letters to use for Christmas gifts next year (family, pretend you didn't read that part).

2. Then I slapped those babies on the dishes, trying to keep them straight. I read on the Armour Etch FAQ part of their site that some people had difficulty getting the cream to work on their old Pyrex dishes, so I bought the first non-Pyrex 9x13 baking dishes I saw. These were from Wally world, and had a cute, little anchor on the bottom of each dish. I then decided to make myself one (what, it was a cool gift!) and used a NEW Pyrex dish, and it worked just fine. My gut is thinking Pyrex dishes that have been washed in a dishwasher are resistant to the cream, but I have not tested this theory on my old dishes.

3. Using my cheapest, firm bristle brush, I slopped on the etching cream, making sure it was nice and thick. The instructions on the cream jar say to go up and down, then back and forth. I didn't read that until the last dish. Whoops.

4. Make yourself some tea, go flip through your favorite magazine.

[insert visual image of me sipping jasmine tea, reading Food Network Magazine]

5. After about 10 minutes, I washed off the cream.
Voila! I had perfect, crisp names etched on to my Pyrex-knock off dishes. I left the cream on longer than the instructions said to, so after I hit about five minutes, I checked the glass from behind every thirty seconds or so to make sure the cream was not bleeding between the letters.

Extra. When I was in the hospital with J., one of my besties brought her famous chocolate chip cookies, and my father-in-law devoured them. So I filled the dish for him and my MIL with her cookies, and the one for the SIL and her family with brownie. I filled mine with chicken spaghetti casserole. Now go forth, etch,then bake whatever floats your boat (anyone catch the other boat reference in the post? anyone?)

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