DIYdiy projects

diy project: etched map serving tray

by AshleyAnn

Summer brings out the travel bug in me. I start dreaming of the beautiful places I’ve been and the locations I still hope to visit. My initial idea for this project was to create a roadmap of one of my favorite travel destinations. I thought a subtle tray celebrating a place I love would be a fun daily reminder of my dreamy locale. However, the more I thought about it, the more I knew my favorite place did not require a plane, train or automobile. It sounds cliche, but my home is my favorite place.

So, instead of a roadmap of an exotic destination, my tray bears the grid of where I spend all my days. The combination of a salvaged window and modern road grid appealed to me, but you could create the same project in countless ways. Etched glass is very subtle, only really noticeable if you look at it from a certain angle. So it is perfect for an unexpected design. — Ashley

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Read the full how-to after the jump!


  • window pane
  • Armour Etch
  • utility knife
  • clear contact paper
  • paintbrush
  • roadmap
  • 2 decorative knobs (mine are from Anthropologie)


1. Print a roadmap of your desired location based on the size of your frame. I chose my location and used an online search to find a roadmap. After measuring my window, I enlarged my map using Photoshop. If you do not have Photoshop, you can take your small map to a local copy center for a basic enlargement. Do not worry if the map is blurry; you only need to see where the roads are located. Tape your map to the underside of your window.

2. Apply clear contact paper to the top of the frame. My window was wider than the contact paper, so I need to use two sheets of contact paper. Instead of trying to make the two sheets of contact paper line up perfectly, I used a main road down the middle of the frame as a space between the two sheets.

3. Using your utility knife and a ruler, cut out each road by tracing the map on the underside of the window. Remove the cut out sections.

4. Using your paintbrush, apply a thick coat of Armour Etch over the exposed glass areas. Let dry for a minimum of 5 minutes, and then wash thoroughly. You can now remove all the extra contact paper and clean the window again.

5. Attach your drawer handles by drilling two holes into the window frame at the desired locations. I wanted a feminine feel to contrast the geometric design of the grid, so I chose floral drawer pulls. You could give the tray an entirely different feel based on the type of handles you choose.

6. Once your tray is complete, you can display it on a table as a subtle reminder of your favorite place. I think this would also work well hanging on a wall without the drawer pulls or propped on a mantle. You could also create a very modern piece by using a basic sheet of glass and new frame with clean lines. There are so many creative options for taking this basic idea of etching a roadmap onto glass. Have fun creating!

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  • This is one of the best DIY projects I’ve seen here and can’t wait to try it this weekend! I’m thinking of doing a slightly larger version, and spraypainting the back with that mirror paint. Then hanging over my headboard. THANKS!

  • What a great upcycling idea! I never knew how easy it is to etch glass. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I’m SOOOOOO going to make these when I move back to NYC :) I’ve loved the haptic lab map quilts but this one is easy and cheap and it has the same effect for me :)

  • this is such a clever project! I’m thinking of making one for two of my friends who just left Atlanta for Pennsylvania… IN THE STICKS! I think a roadmap of the ATL will make them think of us!:)

  • i’m moving from my hometown in the midwest to a scary big new city on the west coast, this is a wonderful creative way for me to keep part of my hometown in my heart <3

  • That Armor Etch stuff is amazing. I did etched glass mugs for Christmas presents one year with the same contact-sheet method. I love the idea of using doorknob pulls the best, since I always see cool ones at Anthropologie and have crazy urges to buy them all (even though I wouldn’t have any use for them!)

  • Though lovely and practical, I have to point out that old double hung window are usually covered with chipping, lead-based paint. The two ways that your body absorbs lead paint is by ingesting it, and breathing chips or small particles. I would suggest re-finishing the window before putting it anywhere near food. :(

  • Lovely idea but I was too distracted by the gorgeous vintage filing drawers in the background (what a great piece).

  • This is a great idea! I have several old windows and I’ve been looking for ideas of what I can do with them (besides hang them and adore their awesomeness). This is fantastic.

  • Thank you, thank you! I have a window very similar to this one, and it’s been sitting leaned against my wall for MONTHS because I didn’t know what to do with it. I’m going to try this!

  • I LOVE the new take on a map. Simply beautiful. And the well cared for details are stunning. I’ve always been a fan of maps, but this takes it to a whole new level. Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  • Very cool. Another idea I thought of would be to use your houseplan/floorplan – it would be fun!

  • This is one of my FAVORITE DIYs I’ve seen in a while! I love Ashley Ann’s stuff, but this especially seems like it’d make an awesome housewarming gift!

  • How unique! With such a perfect blend of the older/vintage window and the geometric lines, which can be too clean and modern sometimes (a part of me wants to say “clinical”), this really becomes a practical art installation that could work in a variety of settings. I see this becoming very popular. Maybe I need one for my guest room side table. First, though, I need to find the right vintage piece to have that honor. :)

  • I would love to put little legs on it and use it as a bed tray. Any ideas on how to do it without breaking the glass?

  • I love this idea! I have been looking for glass etching projects since I can cut stencils with my Silhouette machine, AND I love to decorate with maps, so this is the perfect combination.

  • Awesome!

    One question – do you have to use contact paper? I am super impatient so I would love to use painters’ tape to tape off the different roads instead of an X-Acto and contact paper. :)

  • I LOVED this idea so much I flew to Hobby Lobby for some Armour Etch so I could play :) The only problem I find is that it doesn’t seem to etch very deep. Tried leaving it on goopier (so technical!) And for a longer length of time, but my lines seem much fainter. Anyone else played around with it, and have any ideas? Thanks! ~Michelle

  • This is absolutely adorable! However I was wondering if it would be easier to use frosted glass spray paint instead

  • I love the idea, and I just tried making a version. The contact paper turns out beautifully, but I had problems with Armour Etch. Like Michelle, my lines were very faint, and the armour etch didn’t come on evenly for me. So, be prepared to do a couple of rounds with it maybe? Any other ideas?