DIY Decorative Glass Blocks

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glass block love

Look at these DIY decorative glass blocks. They are my new favorite DIY project? Pretty cool, eh?

I made a boatload of them at the holidays to give as gifts.

monogram glass blocks

And larger ones:

2014-12-19 01.29.04 HDR

And this special one for a friend who loves all things Dr. Seuss.

Dr Seuss glass block

They’re not that hard to do if you have the right supplies. Since people keep asking me how to make them, I’ve given you the tutorial below and affiliate links for purchasing the materials.

Here’s what you need:

Decorative glass block. Yes, you can buy regular glass blocks for much less at Home Depot or Lowes, however, they lack the hole you need to put the lights through. Personally, I’m not interested in making this a project that my husband has to help me drill through glass so… I pay extra for the “decorative” glass block. Approximate cost: $10 – $12 each, depending on the size.

String of white lights. 35 white lights for larger blocks, 20 will do for smaller blocks. You can also get the single light if you prefer. It’s important to make sure the wire on the lights is also WHITE. Approximate cost: $3 – $4.

Etching cream. I haven’t found one that I love yet, but this Amour Etch one is okay. Just make the etching time about 10xs what it says on the bottle. Approximate cost for the little bottle: $12 – $15

In lieu of the etching cream, you can also use this aerosol frosted glass spray. This is a little more difficult to control, but cheaper. You can find this (depending on the store you go to) for $4 – $10.

Vinyl letters. I make my own design and cut mine out with a personal cutting machine called the Silhouette.

If you’re into crafting, the Silhouette is a total game changer! It does take a bit of computer savvy though so if you like to keep things simple and not digital, you might use store bought letters or order some vinyl letters from an online store. Price for these will vary.

Ribbon. Probably best to use a wide ribbon. I hope that you can make bows better than I can. Price for ribbon varies, but I always try and stock up at Christmas for Valentine’s Day too.

Here’s what you do:

Clean your glass block.

If you’re etching it, follow the general etching instructions on the bottle, with some modifications. If you’re using Armour Etch, grab your readers because it’s the smallest print humanly possible and horrific to read. (You can get their video tutorial on their website though.) You’ll need to tape off your edges for a clean line. I used painters tape. I will warn you, you’ll need to leave it on your block for way longer than they say. The video and bottle say 1 minute. I’d say leave it on there for an hour because after 30 minutes, I still wasn’t happy with mine. And when it says liberally apply, seriously slather it on. If you think you have enough, put another layer on.

If etching isn’t your thing, that means you’re spraying. Go OUTSIDE for this. Shake your bottle well and then spray the INSIDE of your glass block. That will assure you have clean lines, however… this is a terribly awkward angle and you’ll likely have drips and runs and it won’t adhere evenly. Don’t stress too much about it, you’re putting vinyl over it. I go through this exercise twice to try and minimize the effect of the uneven spray.

After you’re done with the “frosting” portion of the project, cut out your vinyl letters. I use transfer tape to move them from the vinyl sheet to the glass block but this is not necessary. Make note of where you want the hole to be! While the transfer tape is still on the blocks, rub over the vinyl to get it to adhere well to the glass. Then carefully peel the tape off.

Insert your lights and the stopper thingie to hold them in place.

Hot glue a ribbon to the outer edge.

Plug it in and enjoy!

glass block be my valentine glass block be mine valentine2

glass block love3 glass block love

46 Comments
  1. Tania // Run To Radiance says

    This is such a cute idea!! I love it…I’m going to file this one away for the holidays next year.

  2. Crystal D says

    They look amazing, i’ll have to stop by your etsy store.

  3. Molly says

    I LOVE the font you used for the split-letter last name blocks. Do you mind sharing the name of the font and where you found it?
    Thanks!

    1. Trista Perot says

      Hi Molly! I love it too! It’s in the Silhouette online store. I think it’s just called “K” Monogram (or whatever letter you’re wanting.)

      1. Molly says

        Thank you!

  4. sally says

    Hello!! Can you use modge pod?

    1. Trista Perot says

      Do you mean for the frost inside the block? You could try watering it down a little maybe? I think it would be difficult to get an even coat but I’d love to hear if it worked for you!

  5. Phyllis Koopmann says

    I am thinking about making glass block piggy banks for my grandchildren 8X8 with Large letter and name inserted. Do you have them available and cost please. Thank You

    1. Trista Perot says

      I’m sorry, I don’t sell them!

  6. Karen roberts says

    I love the decorated glass blocks. Do you sell them on Etsy? If so, how can I order some?

    1. Trista Perot says

      I have a couple of Valentine’s ones on there (or I did). The shipping is outrageous so I generally just make them as gifts and to give to friends.

      1. Tina says

        Hi i am wondering what size you make your own decals? I am new to this just got a cricut and i want to make a cpl blocks … Can u help

        1. Trista Perot says

          Well… it depends on the block. I measure the flat area of the block where the vinyl will adhere and subtract at least 1/2 inch from the width.

  7. GInger says

    So with the etching, are you etching just a rectangle or an actual design? I guess I don’t see why it’s important to etch. How would it look if you put the vinyl directly into the block?

    1. Trista Perot says

      I usually spray the inside of the block to give it a frosted look, otherwise the lights are not diffused inside. It’s personal preference, you certainly don’t need to do that. If you do buy lights for inside, be sure to get the ones with the white cord.

  8. Carly Avila says

    By any chance do you happen to sell the letters in the split name font? I don’t have the proper equipment to print them out.

    1. Trista Perot says

      I don’t 🙁 You have to buy a license for commercial use — however, I would imagine that any of the local craft stores would have the right size letters in their sticker aisle. If you want the whole design, try Etsy. There are artists on there who sell their vinyl creations that wouldn’t require a commercial license for it. Hope that helps!

      1. Wayne Hesler-Mondore says

        IF interested we have the split font installed and can quickly produce your initials in SVG format.

  9. Desiree says

    Hi where did you purchase the blocks from please.

    Thanks

    1. Trista Perot says

      I get my blocks from Hobby Lobby. They go on sale every few weeks.

  10. Kelly says

    They’re beautiful! What side of the block is the opening on for the lights? Will the block sit straight with the cord coming out of the bottom?

    1. Trista Perot says

      So I’ve done it both ways, with the cord coming from the bottom or from the side. I prefer the side so that it will always sit flat. I hot glue the ribbon to the clear panel that fills the large hole, but just on the bottom side so that it’s easy to remove it in case we need to replace the lights. I have the ribbon on the top part just laying over that part of the clear panel. There may be an easier way, but that’s how I’ve done it so far.

      1. Maurine Johnson says

        How do you remove the plug? I received one as a gift and the lights have burnt out.

        1. Trista Perot says

          Oh no! You definitely want to replace them. Look under the ribbon along the edge. You should have access to the rubber plug. Just pull it out and you can replace the lights from there.

  11. Liz says

    I have a Cricut expression.. Can I use that instead of a silhouette?? Is there a special vinyl to make it so it will adhere to the glass

    1. Trista Perot says

      Definitely! I find the retail vinyl is a little thin and harder to work with. I order Oracal from Vinyl Expressions but I’m sure there are other online retailers that sell it. Any vinyl should adhere.

  12. Tina says

    Hi, i recently bought a cricut but i need a little help if you dont mind. What size do you make your decals ? Do you use vectors ? Is so where is tge best site to go to? Thanks in advance

    1. Trista Perot says

      Hmmm. Well, I use a Silhouette Cameo so I can’t speak to the the best site for you to download images, although I have played with a Cricut Air and I know that they have an online store for images already formatted. I do not use Vectors, but I have used a jpg and converted it to use with my Silhouette. As to the size, I measure the surface area that the vinyl will go into, and subtract at least 1/2 inch for wiggle room on the border, sometimes more depending on the design. Hope that helps!

      1. tina says

        ok thanks, I see a lot of these with pictures of santa and such, just curious where everyone is getting them. thanks for the help with the size

  13. tina says

    Hi are you able to help me? Im trying for the first time to make my own vinyl decals .. im not sure what size to make them

  14. Adrienne says

    Hi,

    Please can you let me know how you managed to use the Armour etch and get a different colour font that the classic frost?

    Thank you for your help.

    Adrienne

    1. Trista Perot says

      Hi Adrienne, do you mean the black part? That is vinyl lettering on the outside of the block. The inside of the block is sprayed with a frost. I do like armor etch, but not on the blocks so much. Does that clear it up a bit? Let me know if not!

  15. Ashley says

    Do you etch the outside of the block where the vinyl goes? or the inside? Does the vinyl stick to the glass once etched? I made one with the frost spray but it just kept coming off so I’m wanting to try the etching. TIA

    1. Trista Perot says

      I am not a big fan of etching the outside (it would be nearly impossible to etch the inside, I wouldn’t even try). It just doesn’t seem to work as well as spraying the inside with frost spray which is much simpler. The vinyl will stick to the etched glass as well though. Were you spraying the frost inside the block or on the outside? I always spray the inside. Hope that helps?

  16. Jewelie Bradshaw says

    How do you get a commercial license?

    1. Trista Perot says

      Hi Jewelie, When you download an image from the Silhouette store, if it’s available for commercial license, it will give you a drop down at checkout. You will choose personal use, or commercial use. Choose commercial. It is more expensive, and not all images are available for commercial license.

  17. KareY says

    Do you have problems with the transfer tape pulling up the frosting spray?

    1. Trista Perot says

      No. I spray the inside of the blocks so the transfer tape doesn’t touch it.

  18. Glenda Orourke says

    Hi. love the family name blocks you have made!!! do you make them to sell?
    Thank you for displaying your beautiful work.
    Glenda Orourke

    1. Trista Perot says

      Hi Glenda. Thanks so much! I don’t sell them, I’m sorry. I’m sure you can find someone on Etsy who does though!

  19. Barb says

    If I was using the spray frost on the inside will the lights chip it off if they touch it ?

    1. Trista Perot says

      I haven’t found that to be the case. 🙂

  20. Michael says

    Hi, I made a few of there for my friends and it’s lots of fun. Do have any advice for sending them by mail. My son lives in Texas and I want to send him one, But the bow will get crushed. Any advice? Thanks, Mike

    1. Trista Perot says

      Awwww, they’ll love those! I would put some tissue or newspaper in the loops of the bows to keep them from crushing, and then lots of peanuts in the box! If you use wired ribbon, they can easily fluff the bow back up after they get it.

  21. Dana says

    Ha e you had any problems with lights melting the ribbons.

    1. Trista Perot says

      Nope! The lights don’t get that hot.

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