Glass Block Bookends

They say it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey that matters.  Or something like that.  For me, when it comes to crafting, I think it’s mostly about the destination.  I usually enjoy the process, but there better be a prize at the bottom of that cereal box.  There almost wasn’t this time.

Glass Block Bookends 1

Since it’s about the journey, I’ll fill you in on how this disaster turned into a win.  As part of my living room makeover my husband built new shelves on both sides of our fireplace, along with a massive mantle.  That’s a lot of places to put stuff.  I, however, am not good at figuring out what stuff to put where.  For that reason, I’ve been very slow to fill those shelves.

The one thing I knew for sure I wanted was some books.  Pretty books.  My daughter had recently discovered a leather bound classics series, so I started collecting them.  As you can see from the photo, I’m still working on that, with ordinary hard covers with the jackets removed standing in for now. 

Speaking of standing, even big books fall over, so I set out to make myself some book ends.  I’ve used glass blocks before, like on my Glass Block To-Do List, and I happened to find some that were the perfect size.  I planned to use glass etching cream to add some sort of design.  So I bought this.

Glass Block Bookends 2

Just so you know, despite the fact that it says “Etch windows, glass, mirrors and styrene” on the side, this is NOT glass etching cream.  If you look very closely, it says “etched glass look.”  It’s paint.  Poor packaging and almost no instructions, so I took it back and sought out a different brand that is actually etching cream.  I’m almost over it.

After some brain storming, my son and I came up with the phrases you see on the blocks in the photo.  I printed them out on paper, taped that to some old Contact paper, and spent a couple of hours painstakingly cutting them out with an Exacto knife.

Glass Block Bookends 3

I carefully centered each one onto a block, after keeping track of the center of letters like a and o.  If you’re interested in using these words for a project, you can download the PDF here.

Glass Block Bookends 4

I applied the etching cream according to the instructions and left it on for 60 seconds.

Glass Block Bookends 5

I rinsed it off, removing the stencils as I did.  I set them aside to let them dry and this is what I came back to.

Glass Block Bookends 6

Yes, they are almost blank.  After some foot stomping, I grabbed the etching cream and brushed it on freehand, since my stencils were toast.  I left that on overnight, which turned out like this.

Glass Block Bookends 7

I think the problem is that the etching cream bottle says it doesn’t work on Pyrex (although I’ve seen many comments online to the contrary) and these are probably similar.  Now what?  Put them in the sewing room and ignore them for a couple of weeks, that’s what. 

My next genius idea was to buy a couple of sheets of vinyl and cut out the words with the Exacto knife.  I came to my senses before I even attempted that one.

I moved on to glass paint.  What harm could I do at this point?  I bought a paint pen and followed the outline created by the etching.  They aren’t perfect, but unless you get up close, which isn’t going to happen often, you can’t really tell.

Glass Bookends 8

These blocks have a plug, which can be removed so you can fill them with something.  I thought of several options, but finally settled on The Black Marbles.  When my husband and I were first married, we bought some clear table lamps.  We thought they’d look great filled with black marbles, so over the course of a few months, we gathered about 40 pounds of them.  We always said if someone broke into the house we were going to throw the lamps at them because those things weighed a TON.  The lamps are long gone, but the marbles made a great black backdrop for the white writing on my bookends and the added weight is actually a plus here.

Glass Bookends 9

I think I appreciate this project just a little more because the road to get here was long and full of bumps.

Glass Bookends 10

Maybe that means it really is about the journey…even in crafting.

Glass Block Bookends 11

15 thoughts on “Glass Block Bookends

  1. Great idea, lovely look! I have to say though that I laughed out loud at the “going to throw the lamps at them” part of the story!! Just hit my funny bone!! Thanks for that!


  2. Ooo…almost forgot to share with you a great tip for frosted glass “look” that you may or may not know about. You can use clear contact paper on glass or mirror for a frosted look and it’s very durable. Since you went through all the trouble to make the etching masks out of contact paper, I thought this was an appropriate tip. I have two decorative mirrors that I placed a floral design on with this method in the 80s and the “frosting” is still on and looks good! You need to use a soapy water solution in a spray bottle in order for the contact not to stick right away, but remain movable. Once in place you can use a rubber scraper or credit card or the like to gently squeegee out all the moisture from behind the contact paper. It may have some cloudy areas for a day or two, but will dry up and look fantastic! I have frosted by bathroom and bedroom windows so that I can let all the light in, while using minimal window dressing.


  3. Thanks for the pdf of the letters! Not sure I would have gone through all the trouble you did for the bookends, but they came out really nice 🙂


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