There are a myriad of ways to add details to your stained glass projects including decorative solder, wire work, and glass paint to name a few. But glass painting opens up so many possibilities and many questions along with it.
And so, this article is all about glass painting and which ones to use on stained glass.
Even if you don't consider yourself a "painter", sometimes you just want to add an eye or a couple of little lines for detail. Or maybe you want to personalize something with a name or are looking for a way to sign your work? The answer could be to use special paints for glass.
Ever since I started working with stained glass, I wanted to do traditional stained glass painting, but I didn't start there. There was so much to learn about the making of stained glass that I had to start smaller and with more basic designs and tools.
Over the years I’ve tried many different types of glass craft paints before ever touching traditional stained glass paints. So I thought that I would share my favorite glass paints with you in no particular order.
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1. Folk Art Enamels
These glass craft paints are an acrylic paint, made by Plaid for glass and ceramics. They come in a variety of colors and in squeeze bottles that are very easy to store. These water based glass paints are non-toxic and can be used by air drying for 21 days or baking the glass in the oven.
As an avid crafter of many different styles of crafts, I was familiar with Folk Art acrylic paints and found that the Folk Art Enamel paints we're just as easy to use. These glass paints are opaque and are really long lasting after being baked onto the glass in a regular household oven. It would take some intentional scratching with a knife or something sharp to damage the paint.
2. DecoArt Gloss Enamels
The DecoArt Gloss Enamel paints are another type of glass crafting paint that are very easy to use. These water based paints can be baked onto the glass for a dishwasher safe finish (not that you should put your stained glass in the dishwasher!)
Applied with a paintbrush these paints are easy to clean up with water and are also non-toxic. DecoArt also has quite a few product lines in their enamel paints, including Gloss Enamels, Frost Enamels, Crystal Gloss Enamels, Glass Chalkboard Paint, Glass Stain and many others.
3. Pebeo - Porcelain 150
Pebeo Porcelain 150 paints are another great glass painting product. these colors can be mixed to make your own shades and personalized colours and can be cleaned with water. This line of paints also has a special thinner that can be used if the paint gets a little old and starts to thicken.
The Porcelain 150 paint is left to air-dry for 24 hours and then is baked in the oven to cure the paint.
Although these paints are still very easy to clean up, you'll find you need to take a little more time cleaning your brushes. The Masters Brush Cleaner cleans them up beautifully, conditions them and is what I use on all of my brushes. Especially my good ones.
4. Pebeo - Porcelain 150 - Paint Pen
The Pebeo line of glass paint is also available in a pen style dispenser. The Porcelain 150 Paint Pens are perfect for writing names on Christmas ornaments or doing any other detailed line work if you don't have great control with a paintbrush.
I personally found that these often dried out if they weren’t used consistently. But even still, they were super convenient when writing names or doing line work.
5. Pebeo - Vitrea 160 Outliner
These fancy little tubes of paint are a great way to add texture to your painted design.
The Vitrea 160 Outliner tubes have long slender tips for dispensing the paint. They do take a little practice to get a consistently thick line, but once you get knack for using them, they can be a lot of fun to use!
After painting, the glass is left to air-dry for at least 24 hours and is then baked in the oven to set the outliner permanently.
NOTE: Be sure the Vitrea 160 Outliner has dried thoroughly BEFORE baking. If it hasn’t, it will cause broken bubbles to appear in the paint while baking which you can’t get rid of.
The lines in the fairy wings were made using Pebeo Vitrea 160 Outliner in pewter. Some small glass seed beads were added to the tips of the lines of paint before baking and the painted acted like glue and held them in place!
The face details were painted on using DecoArt Gloss Enamels (#2 on this list.)
6. Traditional Stainer Paints - Reusche
After making stained glass for 5 or 6 years, I ventured into the amazing world of traditional stained glass paints. These paints are kiln-fired and are the same type of paint that you would see in stained glass windows in churches.
These glass paints can be layered on top of each other and are fired to approximately 1250 degrees in a glass kiln. This basically melts the paint into the top surface of the glass.
It's this ability to layer the paints that allows the artist to get more depth in their work and have the ability to control the amount of light that comes through the glass breathing life into their stained glass design.
SPECIAL NOTE: Many of the traditional stainer paints contain toxins such as lead and cadmium. For this reason, I only use the lead and cadmium-free stainer paints by Reusche.
If you are interested in pursuing this fascinating type of glass painting, be sure to understand the safety concerns when using traditional stainer paints and wear a proper mask or respirator and consider the proper ventilation as well.
In My Experience...
I use a small toaster oven dedicated strictly to crafting to bake my craft paints onto the glass. And anytime you paint on glass, the glass gets baked or fired BEFORE assembling your stained glass project.
I experimented one time with a small candle holder that I painted a couple of quick designs onto using glass craft paints.
I don't know why, but I never considered the melting point of the solder before putting it in the oven. Needless to say, when I removed the project from the oven, the four sides of glass had all toppled onto the base and the solder had melted all across the metal tray.
What a mess!
In any case, whether you are looking to add only a couple of details like dots or lines, or you're interested in getting started with traditional glass painting, there are many options for you to find exactly what you need to add your own artistic flair to your stained glass projects.