Stained glass artwork has been around since the Middle Ages.
The process started with people staining the windows of churches and cathedrals. At that time, only bright colors were available. Their paint options included cobalt blue, silver yellow and copper red.
Today, there is a variety of paints and techniques for people to use. The most common materials are vinegar trace paint, silver stain, matte paint, as well as oil based paints.
The Stains and Paints
Vinegar trace paint has a dark color. It is meant to keep light from shining through. This paint is thick, which means that it needs to be mixed with water. Not only that, but it also has to be combined with vinegar and gum Arabic. Most people use vinegar trace paint to create figure and design lines.
Silver stain is primarily used to add accent colors. It can be purchased in red, yellow and orange hues. The stain has a hint of silver nitrate in the ingredients. Despite the name, the stain turns to a golden color when fired. Rather than covering up the glass with paint, this stain changes the color of the glass.
Matt paint usually comes in shades of blue, green, brown and black. Like vinegar trace paint, it needs to be combined with water or vinegar. It is one of the easiest paints to use. It differs from vinegar trace paint because it is more transparent when applied. Most people use matte paint for backgrounds and shadows.
Oil-based paints are beneficial because they come in a variety of colors. They are easy to work with because the colors can be mixed like traditional oil paints. However, the colors are not always consistent when they are applied. As a result, they have been known to fire unevenly.
How to use the Stains and Paints
Vinegar trace paint needs to be applied wet. This means that the brush needs to be wet, as does the surface of the glass. If the paint is used when the surface has dried, it is likely to flake after it has been fired in the kiln. It takes practice to use this kind of paint. If there is not enough paint on the brush, it will dry before the artist can complete the stroke. If there is too much paint on the brush, it will blot when added to the glass.
When the vinegar trace paint has dried, people can use a quill to scrape or scratch it. This technique will create texture and depth. After this, the paint should be fired in a kiln at 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Silver stains are usually put on the glass across from the vinegar trace and matte paints. If the stain does not flow well, don’t worry because it’s not meant for detailed lines. When putting the glass in the kiln, the side with the silver stain is allowed to rest face down on the kiln’s shelf. The silver stain should be fired at a temperature that is between 1,000 and 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Each time it is fired, the silver stain will darken.
Matt paint can be applied to the glass thickly, as well as thinly. It is one of the easier paints to work with because it can be blended and dotted. Instead of using a brush, people can even apply this paint with their fingers. Due to its transparent nature, it should be put on the glass over tracing paint. When it is placed over tracing paint, two firings will be required. The first firing will be for the tracing paint and the second one is for the matte paint.
Oil-based paints use an oil-turpentine base. As a result, they are rarely affected by atmospheric conditions. They must be fired in the kiln at a lower temperature than the water-based paints. Otherwise, they will break up while in the kiln. The firing temperature should be below 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Best Brands
Glass paint and stains are made by a variety of companies. Since each brand has advantages and disadvantages, it takes time for people to find their favorite brand. One of the best brands is known as Pebeo. They make exceptional water-based paints that can be applied to a number of surfaces. When using this brand, make sure to read the instructions. For instance, some of their paint only needs to be fired at a temperature of 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Delta is another good brand for creating stained glass. They make a series of paints that are transparent. They even make a surface conditioner, which helps the paint to adhere faster. Most of their paints come in a needle-nosed squeeze bottle to give people more control as they are working. Another one of the best brands to try is Liquitex. They make products that are known as Liquitex acrylic glossies. These are water-based enamels that work well for decorative glass artwork. They have been specially formulated to adhere to glass and other surfaces.
Required Tools for Stained Glass Artwork
Besides the glass, paints and stains, there are some other tools that are needed. The following list explains everything that is required before getting started.
- A piece of float glass – This float glass is where the paint will be dispensed and mixed.
- Ammonia window cleaner – All glass should be cleaned before staining.
- Gum Arabic – This product usually comes in powder form. It helps the paint stick to the glass. Before using, it gets mixed with water or alcohol.
- Paint Brushes – Various sizes of paint brushes will be needed when staining glass. For an affordable option, hog bristle brushes work well.
- Vinegar and water – Some paints will need to be mixed with vinegar or water.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Gum Arabic can be tricky to use for those who are first starting out. If too much is used, it is difficult to brush off. When there is not enough used, the paint will come off too easily. When used properly, it helps create shading.
The badger blender brush is another option for a paint brush. It is slightly more professional than the hog bristle brush. However, people may need to save up for it because it costs over $300. Despite the high cost, these brushes usually last for a lifetime. When using the badger blender, people do not have to worry about streaking. Unlike traditional brushes, the hair on this brush separates when it is wet.
Always clean the paintbrushes after use. This will keep them in good condition so they can last for a long time to come. One of the best ways to clean them is to use a foam shampoo. This shampoo gets all of the paint and chemicals out of the bristles. It does it in a gentle way so it does not destroy the brush.
If someone is using opalescent glass, the firing temperatures will need to be higher. Otherwise, the paint will not fuse.
In some cases, opalescent glass needs to be fired at a temperature of 1,375 degrees Fahrenheit. Silver stain will work normally, but enamel will not produce as vivid of colors.