What are Glass paints and how to use them

What are Glass paints and how to use them

I have had a play with glass painting in the past, doing my own hand-painted Boozehag wine glasses for my merchandise range. I've even used the glass paint in my artwork in mixed media paintings where I wanted a high gloss transparent and glassy finish, and I think it was an awesome result. Images further down so keep reading

pebeo glass paints     

Pebeo Glass Paint Range pictured above

I get my glass paint from Gordon Harris or Spotlight. Both stock the range of Pebeo Vitrail Glass Paint and Pebeo Vitrea 160 Glass Paint. 

The Vitrea 160 range has 30 transparent colours to use on glass, which include glossy or frosted versions. The Vitrea 160 water based colours are professional quality and very easy to use. 

The Vitrail range has a slightly smaller range of 26 transparent, luminous colours for use on glass and metal. The Vitrail colours have an incomparable roundness and brilliance and the colours are intermixable so you can create your own hues for an original finish. 

There is also another more significant difference between the VITREA and the VITRAIl. 

Vitrea 160 is water based, while Vitrail is a solvent based glass paint. 

Vitrea 160 should be baked/fired in an oven to achieve its permanence, while Vitrail Paints should never be baked instead they are air dry only, since the solvents are flammable. Once Vitrail is dry, it is permanent, so it is ideal for large projects like glass doors or windows that cant go in the oven to be heat set.

After baking at 160°C (325°F) in a domestic oven, paints are dishwasher safe. Clearly, this one is not for painting on canvas, because you cannot bake it to set unless you want burned canvas! This is where the Vitrail solvent-base would be more appropriate.

Glass paint's adhesion and durability are very important for items that you might use frequently and that may be put in the dishwasher, for example drinking glasses, plates, and jugs (although I don't recommend it from experience as I have had paint peel off when I put in the dishwasher, so its better to hand wash them). Paints that have been baked are more durable than those that are not so for these items I'd use the Pebeo Vitrea 160 range. If the piece is only for decorative purposes, like a vase or an ornament, then an air dry paint will work fine. However, it is not necessary since baked ones come in a wider range of colours to choose from. Other than Pebeo you can get Liquitex Glossies which are air-drying paints, although this one can also be baked to increase the durability.

The Application of glass paints

Make sure the item/s you are painting on have been thoroughly washed and dried to remove any coatings that may prevent the paint from sticking to the surface. 

Glass paints can be applied with a brush or sponge applicator. Try using stencils or patterns if you're not quite at the level of freehand drawing as that will make creating your design easier. 

Stencils and transfers can make application even easier. Place the chosen paper pattern on the inside of the glass and stick down, then follow the design using the paint on the outside. For opaque surfaces like a coffee mug or plate you can use tracing paper where you trace your design directly onto the surface then fill in with colour.

The paints do take a little while to dry so if you want to mix to create a marbled effect you do have time to do that by swirling them carefully together. Otherwise let each colour dry before applying the next one.

Another fun thing you can do is use the outliner pens which are in a paste form and leave a 3D dimensional raised line when dry. These create a stained glass window effect like lead and even come in a colour called Pewter that is lead coloured. 

range of glass paint outliners

There are 10 colours to choose from in these outliners - you apply the paste directly from the tube on to your surface (Your pattern will come in handy here if you need to follow some lines). You can use them on their own or in combination with the Vitrea 160 paints for a stained glass effect. Let the outline dry then apply your glass paints inside each area. Please keep in mind that it does need a few hours to set before applying any paint. I made the mistake of trying to apply it too early and it got rather messy. You need to allow it to air dry for 24 hours before baking in the oven. 

In most glass paint ranges you can also get paint marker pens. This makes the application even faster and easier. The Pebeo's Vitrea 160 liner range has eighteen different markers, 9 glossy and 9 which are frosted colours. There are bullet tip markers, and they are perfect for detailed work, writing words and for quick projects. The markers are really suitable for beginner painters as well as children and are bake-on like the paints so are absolutely durable once baked too!


Helpful Hints

1. Make sure the glass is clean before painting.

2. Read and follow all instructions carefully for the paint product selected. Some paints can require an undercoat as well as an overcoat.Vitrea 160 and  Liquitex Glossies only require one coat.

3. If baking make sure you place the glass in a cool oven, allowing the oven to heat to the desired temperature; using a timer bake for the required time. Then allow the piece or pieces to cool down before removing from the oven.

4. If you make a mistake then simply wipe off prior to baking, most brands will allow this step if needed. Use warm water or alcohol.

5. Clean all your brushes and  tools with soap and water. If  you are using an acrylic based paint make sure to clean the brushes immediately after use  as like acrylic paint once dry its permanent and hard to clean out.

6. Use a sponge if you need to paint an entire piece all one colour, it gives the best overall, even coverage.

7. Many effects can be obtained using mediums, accessories and auxiliary products. Pebeo's Vitrea 160 line offers frost medium for frosted effects, iridescent medium for iridescent effects and crackling medium for crackled effects. The Vitrea 160 paint line offers a selection of both frosted and glossy colours as well as ten colours of dimensional outliners for adding designs which have a puffy 3 dimensional appearance.

8. Its not a good idea to intermix brands as each one has a different formulation and sometimes combinations of the products could result in rather undesirable effects.

Note: The main image is of the stained glass window in my lounge. Its a beautiful piece but I didnt like the choice of baby pink glass in it so I painted it red with glass paints. This photo was taken 20 years on and it's still doing well. I used the Pebeo Vitrail air dry glass paints as I couldnt put the window in the oven. The image below shows the glass paint being used with acrylic paints to create a high gloss on the leaves against a matt background. 

painting of autumn leaves showing the use of glossy glass paints on a textured background

Rich Season by Collette Fergus

Posted: Wednesday 17 March 2010


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