19 Insider Strategies to Improve your Kiln-Fired Stained Glass Painting – Free Download

“What glass painting strategies do you value most?”

Here are 19 glass painting strategies for you to use

What an interesting question. (And I wonder what you will say when you see what’s coming up.)

Yes of course – it all depends on the design / cartoon itself.

But all the same, some glass painting strategies are more valuable and adaptable than others. Because they lift your painting to a new level.

Here’s my choice – 19 insider strategies as used by all professional glass painters though they maybe don’t have the time or confidence to tell you what they really do when no one’s looking.

And I remember from my own apprenticeship days how one of the master glass painters I worked with used to shut the paint room’s door.

Believe me, this wasn’t so that he could concentrate.

No, it was all meant to be kept secret. The media, the quantities, the sequence, the brushes. Everything a secret.

What a way to live – behind closed doors. It’s not for us. And nor for you I trust.

So just copy and master these strategies and you’ll maybe wonder what held you back for so long.

All the same, of course, these strategies are not compulsory.

No. It’s up to you whether you want to learn to paint glass well. It’s your life. It’s your glass, your tools and materials, your designs. If you’re happy you know it all already, read no further. Forget I ever mentioned the existence of these 19 insider glass painting strategies.

Just carry on like before.

Other people – please read on.

Oh and please don’t expect a formal, “showing off / I’m the expert” style.

I’ll leave that for those jumped-up “how-to” books which contain a lot of silly, useless and costly rubbish.

No, I’m confident enough about the value of what’s here to talk to you directly with an open collar, so to speak. (Hmmm and not just “so to speak” …)

These 19 strategies really work. They’re the real thing. They certainly make a huge difference to my life and David’s – to the styles of glass we can paint. And we don’t need footnotes to prove it.

P.S. Pay close attention and I will tell you how to get a printed version of this article, all neatly laid out.

You’ll get a handy, strategy-packed PDF download.

There’s no charge for this.

Step 1 – Identify and demolish the 2 bad myths

Before we get going with the 19 strategies, just check out these two bits of received opinion:

  1. The right way to use glass paint is to mix it up a teaspoonful at a time, and
  2. When you paint on top of unfired glass paint, your paint will blister in the kiln

Both these ideas are false and harmful. It doesn’t matter you’ve read them in books. It doesn’t matter you were told them by someone you greatly respect and admire. It doesn’t matter you heard them from the guy in the craft store who sells you your materials “and he really knows what he’s talking about”. It doesn’t even matter this is maybe what you’ve done all your life.

Nothing matters except we move on and learn new things. New things. True things. Useful things.

Step 2 – from the rubble of the demolished myths arise … the 19 insider strategies

See, when you reject the teaspoon myth, you get the first of the 19 strategies.

And when you combine this first strategy with rejecting the paint-on-top-of-unfired-paint myth, you get the other 18.





And now with your permission I shall explain.

Hold on tight. This is going to be fast and fun.

Strategy #1 – Paint with a lump (not a teaspoonful)

Just about every book I’ve ever seen pedals the wasteful nonsense that you should mix your paint a teaspoonful at a time.

Maybe it’s probably suggested as a well-meant economy. But the problem is, you do as it says, and you’re literally throwing your glass paint to the four winds.

If you just mix a teaspoonful of paint at a time, you’re wasting your money and making one huge mistake that damages the quality of your work.

Here’s why.

This teaspoonful of paint dries up real quickly, doesn’t it? And maybe that’s the whole idea here: because glass paint dries up quickly, “just mix a little at a time …”

But think about it for a moment. Maybe if you mixed up a lump at a time, and covered that lump when you weren’t using it, and looked after that lump as I can show you how – then maybe your glass paint wouldn’t dry up so quickly!

Does that make sense?

You see, the lump will retain its moisture content far more easily than a teaspoonful of paint will. That’s guaranteed by science (there’s a better ratio between surface area and volume, and it’s the surface which is exposed to the drying effects of the atmosphere).

This lump of paint retains the moisture

So although your initial expense is greater – you need to buy at least four ounces of paint rather just one – those four ounces will last you maybe 10 times as long when you mix them lump than if you mix them just one teaspoonful at a time.

And as I will prove, you’ll also save time mixing and adjusting your glass paint to suit the kind of painting you’re doing. So you win. No ifs. No buts.

Except you do need the right kind of glass paint. That’s no different from anywhere else – cooking for example. (Try making a risotto with long-grain rice, try making hot chocolate with water, try tasting a ready-meal beef burger as opposed to one you made and seasoned yourself.)

As with everything, you get what you pay for.

So you need the right kind of glass paint – one that holds water well. (And oil for that matter – see strategy #14.) But that’s a small effort to make for a truly huge return.

Wondering how you make a lump of glass paint? Essentially you need (the right kind of) glass paint, plus a medium (like water or oil, because glass paint comes as powder) plus maybe a binder like gum Arabic.

Also wondering what’s the recipe? In fact there is no more “one” or “the” recipe for glass paint than there is just “one recipe” for bread. It all depends on the strategies you plan to use. If you want to use the strategies in this guide, that purpose will steer you towards a particular recipe. I can help you. More here.

Strategy #2 – Organize and control your painting palette at all times

Most people make the big mistake of making do with a small piece of glass for their painting palette.

When you’re using just a teaspoonful of paint, you can just about get away with it.

And maybe these two lunacies support one another – a teaspoonful of paint and a small palette – but that doesn’t make them right. Oh no.

Anyway now you’re using a lump of glass paint, you definitely need a larger palette. What size? The size of a piece of letter paper – that’s “A4” in English, about 8 inches by 12, about 210 mm by 300. And what will you do with all this new found space, I wonder? I beg you: keep it organised. Put the lump up one end, and use different parts of the remaining space to create the consistency of paint you need for the kind of painting you’re doing right now like tracing or shading.

See, the lump is your concentrate. It’s unusable as it is. But is your servant to bid to take whatever form you wish.

And you can quickly cut of a small slice or two, move these slices down the palette, add a few drops of water, and transform concentrate and water into diluted glass paint with exactly the consistency you need.

Let me tell you what’s going on here. Have you heard of the Pareto principle? It’s where you find the 20% of effort which gets you 80% of the results you want. Finding the 20% is always the difficulty. It’s where you need luck, or long experience and patience, or expert advice – that’s me and David. So listen up because this is really important.

It’s your choice. Either you spend small, frequent and highly efficient amounts of time looking after the paint on your palette.

Or you let your palette get dry and messy. In which case you will spend a lot of time tidying it up with potentially catastrophic effects on the quality of your painting.

For best results, spend about 20% of your time organizing and tidying your palette

Is that clear: little, often and successful is the way to go.

Let me be clearer still.

Each time you load your brush, spend a few moments re-mixing your paint. It’s quick. It’s painless. It pays massive dividends. And each time you move from one consistency of paint to another, use your palette knife to scrape up the old batch and place it somewhere “out of harm’s way” at the top of the palette where you can call upon it as needed later on in the painting session.

Strategy #3 – Paint an undercoat before you shade and trace

When you decorate a room, what do you do? You clean the walls and remove the grease and grime. Then you use a primer – an “undercoat”. This primer gives your next layers a good sticky “key” and allows you to build up depth of colour more quickly.

It’s no different with glass painting except for some reason people don’t tell you this.

Yes I’m sure you know to clean your glass.

(And by the way, there’s no need to use detergent or vinegar here – do it with glass paint. See, if the glass paint goes on fine, you know you’re done. It’s the best test there is. Also be sure to clean the sides and back of the glass – grease has an annoying habit of migrating.)

So let’s imagine you’ve cleaned your glass not once but several times (better safe than sorry). Most folks start tracing now but this is crazy if it’s the only thing you know how to do. (And it’s just as crazy to start matting.) No, just as with decorating a room, you paint an undercoat and let this dry and then you do your tracing and shading.

It’s usually so much better to paint an undercoat before you trace and shade

Here are the benefits:

  1. The undercoat gives you a lovely (slightly rough) surface on which to paint. So you get “new improved brush control”. This maybe sounds too good to be true. But it’s true.
  2. The undercoat helps you build up depth of colour in a steady way. You see, dark paint is difficult to control. But now you won’t need to risk overloading your brush with dark paint when you already have an undercoat to help you with your work
  3. The undercoat reminds you not to handle the glass carefully and to keep greasy fingers away from the painting surface
  4. The undercoat protects the glass from air-born grease and dirt

So four excellent reasons to paint an undercoat before you trace and shade. Yet most people ignore them, skip the undercoat, and rush headlong into tracing. What a shame!

The reason is, they believe the myth that your paint will blister if you paint on top of unfired glass paint. This myth is damaging nonsense. We regularly paint five or six layers in a single firing. Interested?

Great – let’s move on.

P.S. This undercoat is not a special kind of glass paint. It’s just a light mix that you prepare from a tiny bit of paint that you remove from your concentrated lump.

P.P.S. There’s a fifth benefit too. It’s so good I saved it up for later. Clue: think highlights.

Stained glass painting - 19 strategies

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Strategy #4 – Don’t trace – Copy-trace

Most books’ instructions tell you something stupid like:

Place your glass on top of the design. Use your tracing brush to copy the outline …

This is so stupid it makes me angry with all the frustration it gives to glass painters everywhere. All that wasted time. All those dented hopes.

Thing is, as anyone can see if they just stop and think for a moment instead of blindly accepting what the “experts” say in their oh-so-expert books – thing is, with the design beneath the glass, how are you supposed to know if your traced line is thick/thin enough, or whether it’s light/dark enough?

You can’t. Not until you pick it up and hold the glass to the light … and see the watery wobbly results!

This is just the kind of thing to make people feel dim or untalented when the real problem is they’ve been told the wrong thing.

Another problem is that glass has a thickness. See, even plain glass distorts the image. And if you’re working with coloured glass, you’ve not just got to cope with this distortion, you’ve also got to really squint to make out the design and see how your line is doing in comparison with it.

Really tricky stuff. No wonder so many people feel so anxious tracing. Which is such a waste and such a shame because tracing is a blissful, calm activity, like slow-motion skating.

And another problem. The only way to minimize the distortion is to place your eyes exactly above the tip of your tracing brush and look down directly from above. But who can do this?

In other words some of your design will be traced from the left, some from the right, some from too far forward, some from the back.

This all mounts up. The effect is, the painted piece looks a muddle. And what hope has anyone got of doing something realistic like a face? Oh, the stupidity of those ‘expert’ books!

So what’s the answer?

Don’t worry – the answer’s not to do it free-hand. (Free-hand is certainly possible; it’s just that the materials don’t lend themselves this way.)

No, not free-hand. The answer is to do your traced lines in two or more layers.

First time around, put the undercoated glass on top of the design. Now copy the main lines as lightly and delicately as you can.

When the glass is on top of the design, copy-trace the main lines as lightly as you can

This is like writing something out in pencil first.

So the next stage is …

Strategy #5 – Strengthen

Yes. So the next stage is to put the design on one side where you can see it.

Now with your lightly traced glass directly on top of the light box, it’s a simple matter to “ink in” your “pencil” lines – I mean, to strengthen your copy-tracing.

With the design on one side, it’s quick and easy to “ink in” and adjust the copy-traced lines

Now it’s easy to see the thickness and thinness of the lines you trace, and also how light and dark they are in relation to one another.

You’ll understand that your copy-traced lines need to be light and thin enough so that it’s really not important if they are slightly in the wrong place.

That’s because you can correct them now – not so much by rubbing them out like you would with pencil lines. But you’ll find that your strong lines will draw all the attention. They’ll “up stage” your copy-traced sketch lines, and so they should!

Do you start to see how so many of the so-called expert strategies of glass painting – like tracing “in one go” with the glass on top of the design – all follow logically and damagingly from the stupid idea that you mustn’t paint on top of unfired paint?

According to many experts, you mustn’t use strategies #3, #4 and #5: “your paint will blister,” that’s what they’ll tell you.

But it won’t, I tell you.

I also told you this would be fun. And I hope you’re enjoying things so far.

And maybe also thinking, “Now at last I understand!”

P.S. You’ll always find there’s some paint loss when you come to fire your glass. Depending on the strategies you’ve used, the paint can become maybe 15% lighter after firing. See how this is to your advantage if a copy-traced line is in the wrong place? After firing, provided you’ve done your copy-tracing lightly and thinly, it’ll be barely visible if at all.

Stained glass painting - 19 strategies

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Strategy #6 – Test everything

I’m putting this here because now it’ll make good sense – because now in response to strategies #1 – #5 you’re probably busting with questions like how to mix up paint that’s good for undercoating and so forth.

So let me give you two golden rules.

Just two. That’s not too many to remember, is it?

All you need to do is to follow them.

Here goes.

  • Rule 1: Test everything.
  • Rule 2: Refer to rule 1.

I’m perfectly serious here.

You see most people seem to approach the master glass painter as if he or she possessed some mystical skill which as it were transformed the tracing brush into a magic wand, and “Oh if only I had that magic wand, then I too could paint like them, but I don’t, and that’s why my glass painting isn’t nearly so good!”

But this is rubbish.

The so-called mystical skill of the master glass painter pretty much comes down to their ability to use the palette to mix up the right kind of paint. And how do they know they’ve done this? By testing it first. You see, you can only tell so much by the feel of your brush as it swirls and twirls across the palette.

And you certainly can’t be sure how that paint will appear on the glass itself.

Master glass painters always test.

Keep an area of your light box for all the tests you do

Master glass painters always observe the results of their tests. (You’d be amazed how many beginners do the test and don’t pay attention to it – as if doing the test were enough in itself, almost like a magical ritual with no other meaning than its mere performance!)

Master glass painters have learned from experience to take the right decisions in response to their tests.

So for example they have learned patience and will not rush headlong into copy-tracing when their test produces damp watery lines.

Now this whole process of testing will be easier for some glass painters than for others.

Glass painters with a background in science are at an advantage here.

And it’s the glass painters with an arts background who will maybe find things difficult, since they will maybe have to overcome quite a lot of resistance and – who knows – maybe even prejudice.

But artists – remember this. Your glass paint has physical properties of its own which you must respect. When you mix it with water (or oil) and gum Arabic, it acquires new properties. And factors like the heat of your light box will influence its behaviour. All the art and creativity in the world cannot change these laws of nature. So you must get used to them.

The master glass painter – artist or scientist makes no difference now: the master is master of a craft – is someone who understands this.

The master glass painter – like the scientist – is also someone who understands the core principle of all testing.

It is this.

When you are testing, there are two different ways to do.

If you vary one element in your test, you will know precisely how much difference it made. If you change more than one, you don’t – so you might as well change everything. So, test one, or test all – change one thing at a time, or change everything.

This is relevant to everything I’ve said so far and to everything I will say for ever and ever and ever.

Strategy #7 – Softening

It’s another wretched myth that you trace, then shade.

Or rather: you trace, then fire your glass, then shade, then fire your glass again.

You can’t see me writing this but I had to stop to throw my hands in the air in sheer frustration with this idiotic approach to glass painting.

Well, it’s not quite that bad.

It’s fine to trace and fire and shade and fire again – it’s absolutely fine, providing this is what the design requires, or providing you also know other strategies and so your choice is conscious and informed rather than desperate and inflexible.

If someone traces and fires and shades and fires because this is all they’ve been told and it’s all they know – that’s where the problem is.

But there is a big problem with this “trace/fire/shade/fire” approach. Once you fire your tracing, the lines are fixed for all time.

“That’s great,” someone says. “That means you can’t accidentally damage them.”

Yet if that’s the concern, why not just work more gently, or add a little bit more gum Arabic to your glass paint?

Thing is, until you shade, how does anyone really know their traced lines are absolutely where they should be?

This is in fact why so much stained glass painting ends up looking slavish and dead.

The outlines have been copied (and as I’ve already explained – no doubt badly copied at that), then fixed for all time “in the fire”, and then the shading is added afterwards.

The problem is, the shading will most likely reveal that many of the traced lines are in the wrong place, or are too thick or thin, or too dark even. And there’s very little you can do about it now.

This is awful not just because it’s wrong but also because it’s so unnecessary.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s imagine you’ve copy-traced and strengthened your lines and haven’t fired them. (Well done!)

Here’s what you do.

You cover the while surface of the glass with a light wash of paint – pretty much the same as your undercoat in strategy #2 – and while the wash is wet, you take your badger blender, “attack” the lines and make them move.

The idea is you use your blender to spread the narrow dark traced lines into soft broad shadows.

You can use this technique to soften traced lines and mid-tones as you see here

And that’s pretty amazing.

Strategy #8 – Reinstatement

I say that strategy #7 is “pretty amazing” – well, actually things can look a bit messy right now, so it’s important that you hold your nerve and maintain a vision of where you’re heading.

And don’t run off and fire your glass!

(Be patient! It’ll be ages before your glass goes anywhere near a kiln.)

Here’s what you do.

You begin by re-organizing your palette after the softening you’ve just done: take your palette knife and scrape the paint back up towards the lump where it’s out of your way. Now with your palette knife again, cut a small slice from your lump, scrape it down to the bottom-half of the palette. Add water. Grind. And so prepare some medium-density paint. Load your tracing brush. Test and adjust as needed.

Now trace firm dark lines to one side of the soft shadowy lines.

The point here is, you don’t paint directly on top of the shadowy lines because you don’t want to obliterate them.

But you pretty much reinstate your original lines, and thereby restore order.


Strategy #9 – Modelling

While you reinstate, or even after you reinstate, you can also make some lines thicker than others. We call this “modelling” because you actively shape the lines rather than leaving them to look dull and boring and all the same width. The same tracing brush can be used to paint a huge variety of widths.

Practice and test your strokes on the light box before you do them on your glass.

Also, only work on and around paint that’s had time to dry; if you work on half-dry paint, you’ll simply lift it off and probably make a mess.

You use the existing line as a support on which to create and build a new shape.

Strategy #10 – Blocking in

Stained glass painting works best when there is a strong contrast between light and dark.

This is making obvious what happens in a church, for example: light pours through the window, and the stained glass itself “sings” because of the contrast with this coloured light and the surrounding darkness of the brickwork.

But you also need contrast within a window (not just around it).

So, within many bits of painted glass, you’ll find areas where the glass is so thickly covered with paint that light can’t come through at all.

These “blocked in” areas establish a beautiful contrast with other areas of the window where there is no paint at all.

These are the 7 secrets of successful blocking in:

  1. Prepare paint that is a little bit runnier than the consistency of melted chocolate
  2. Test the paint. It needs to flow effortlessly from your brush. All the same, it is important you are in charge at all times, so your paint mustn’t be too runny.
  3. Once the paint has left your brush, do not go over it.
  4. Do not bob up and down with your brush. Just load it, take it to the glass, let the paint flow, flatten the paint out a bit, then return to the palette for more paint
  5. Each time you go to load your brush, twirl your brush to re-mix the puddle of “melted chocolate”
  6. Work at a steady pace until you’ve blocked in everything you need to
  7. Don’t pick up the glass and admire it until the paint is absolutely dry

Again thinking about church windows – look at heads and hands for example, and you’ll see how, rather than cutting a piece of glass that’s exactly the “right” shape, a larger piece is used, and the outline of the head or hand or whatever is then blocked in.

Softened lines look messy at first (left) but a bit of reinstatement, modelling and blocking in (right) makes everything look tidy again

This stops the painted shape from looking cramped by the surrounding lead.

Strategy #11 – Highlighting

Now the usual approach as recommended by all those expert books is to fire the glass, then lay down a wash or set of mid-tones, then use sticks and scrubs to pick out highlights.

But since you’ve been clever enough to paint not just an undercoat but also a top-coat (remember how you softened your lines in strategy #7), you don’t have to do that, do you?

And yes this is now the fifth benefit I teased you with way back in strategy #3.

Highlighting is often best done from the safety of a bridge. If you’re new to using a bridge, it takes a bit of getting used to but after a while it becomes second nature.

You can make highlights with anything that is sharp and solid enough to cut through unfired paint – needles, sticks, hog-haired brushes, pins, combs.

It may surprise you to know this; most glass painters have more highlighting tools than they have brushes. See they often rely on two or three tracing brushes, but have a whole case of weird and wonderful tools for removing paint and letting the light shine through.

They know the secret is, not just one kind of highlight – the standard line – but lots of different kinds.

Strategy # 12 – Softened highlights

Glass painters also use their bare hands.

Imagine this. A washed (painted) area through which you have first used a pointed stick to cut a sharp highlight; through which you have then gone gently with a scrub to dissolve the sharp highlight.

And now, ever so carefully and gently, you use a dry clean finger and rub these highlights and soften them by hand.

You can soften highlights and give your glass a gentle lovely glow

You must be delicate here because it is far easier to remove paint than it is to get it where you want.

And your finger must be clean and dry at all times, so wipe it regularly on an apron or piece of kitchen paper.

Do you see how this strategy of softened highlights is similar to the strategy of softened lines? In each case you start with something bold and direct (a striking highlight, a straight traced line), then modify the boldness (by rubbing the highlight, by painting over and then blending the traced line).

Glass painting is often at its most alive when it is also at its most various.

Highlights and softened highlights are the “way to go”.

Stained glass painting - 19 strategies

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Strategy #13 – Reverse painting

Providing you have enough gum in your paint and you handle your glass carefully, you can also paint to your heart’s content on the back of the glass. And fire it face down in the kiln. If the kiln is hot enough to fire the front of the glass to a shiny finish, then it will also be hot enough to fire the back of the glass to a slightly drier finish.

Reverse painting a so far unfired stained glass gargoyle

Unless you are painting a submerged object – Ophelia under water, for example – it is usually best to put traced details (plus shading) on the front, with more shading (but no tracing) on the back.

P.S. You can also do really interesting things with a toothbrush to make the glass look old and textured but I can’t go into that right now.

Strategy #14 – Oil wash

I mentioned earlier how maybe 15% of the paint’s darkness can get lost in the firing. This is because it burns off in the heat and escapes as dust and fume, rather than fusing with the rest of the paint to the surface of the glass.

That’s just the way the world is.

Unless you do something to seal the paint in.

We’ve found that a light wash of oil-based paint, applied to the whole surface of the glass, and blended smooth as needed, prevents nearly all the paint loss that would otherwise occur.

A light wash of oil-based paint over the whole glass helps prevent paint loss and also unifies light with dark

It also unifies the whole piece, bringing together everything from the highlights down to the blocked in areas.

Strategy #15 – Prepare a thick paste of oil-based paint for when you need it

Professional glass painters sometimes use oil of Tar but this is carcinogenic, poisonous and noxious.

You have been warned.

Oil of sandalwood is excellent to make the paste; you need maybe 7 ml or ¼ fluid ounces mixed with about a teaspoonful of paint. (This is the only time you’ll hear me telling you to mix a teaspoonful of paint!)

Keep it clean and air-tight, and this oil-based paste will last for ages

Keep it clean and air-tight, and this oil-based paste will last for ages

This paste must be too thick to use as it is. Put it in a sealed container and leave it until you need it.

Transfer it to your palette – always a different palette than the one you use for painting with water-based paint.

Now cut off and dilute a slice with as many drops of oil of Lavender as needed to get you the consistency and darkness that you’re after.

So a wash (strategy #14) will require a good amount of Lavender in proportion to the Sandalwood paste.

Strategy #16 – Oil mid-tones and oil full-tones

And oil mid-tones and full-tones will require less Lavender and more paste.

Apply mid- and full-tones on top of an oil-based wash to those areas where you want to darken things further and/or create a greater, gentler range of shadows that can easily be achieved with water-based paints.

Yes, that’s the joy of working with oil.

And no, you don’t have to fire your glass first. Maybe it’s a bit unnerving to begin with, but, with gum Arabic in your water-based paint, you can paint away in oil to your heart’s content. And your water-based painting won’t move.

What’s more, if you don’t like what you’ve done in oil, you can even remove it and start again, but yes you do need to be a little careful here.

Once you’ve laid down your mid- and full-tones, you can use a small round-headed badger blender to soften them into the most beautiful gentle shadows you’ve ever seen.

But you need to know this absolutely essential trick:

To soften oil mid- and full-tones, you absolutely must always first lubricate the whole surface of the glass with an ample wash of very light oil-coloured paint.

This wash creates a slippery surface on which to apply and blend the mid- and full-tones.

This wash is the key to successful oil-based blending.

Strategy #17 – Oil-based highlights

It is often a good idea to choose at least a few places where bare unpainted glass prevails.

Take a piece of lint-free cloth or good quality kitchen paper and dab it where you want to cut through oil to the bare glass below.

Also pick out highlights against your oil-based tracing and shading

You can then use your round-headed blender to soften this highlight.

It is also possible to use scrubs etc.

If you are concerned to achieve a very clear highlight, you will now need to cover the glass for a day or so until the oil seeps into the water-based paint beneath, by which process it dries.

As it dries, it will seep back into any highlights you’ve made. So once it has dried you can restore the highlight, and then fire your glass in your own good time.

That’s right. Now you can fire your glass. Well, go on: what are you waiting for?

Strategy #18 – Silver stain: forget about water and vinegar, they’re such a waste …

Most people grumble about the unreliability of silver stain. And most pople mix silver stain with water or vinegar.

Maybe there’s a connection here … ?

At Williams & Byrne, we kicked the water and vinegar habits a long, long time ago.

Instead of water or vinegar, use oils to make a reliable batch of stain

The way to go is: oil.

Then you can make a reliable batch of stain that lasts for months and months.

And best of all: it’s so much more predictable than water or vinegar, so, once you’ve done a quick range of tests, you can be far more confident than ever before that the stain will fire exactly as you want it to.

What a relief. This saves you so much time and money and heart-ache.

Say goodbye to water and vinegar today.

Strategy #19 – Choose your oils carefully

With the right types of oils, combined in the right proportions, you can now use silver stain to trace, blend, shade and flood. Which is amazing when you think of all the disadvantages of using water or vinegar.

With the right oils, you can now trace, blend, shade and flood with stain

In all our tests, we found the best mixture was about 90% oil of Sandalwood Amyris mixed with stain plus about 10% oil of Lavender. (There is no getting more precise than that.)

This forms the basic paste which keeps for ages.

Then, when you come to paint with stain, you place some of your paste on your palette, cut of a bit and use more Lavender to dilute it the required consistency.

Admittedly there’s a lot to learn here. But since stain is so expensive, and because water and vinegar are both so useless, it’s well worth your time and money to explore this approach.

Oh and did I mention how, with oil (not with water or vinegar) you can also combine several different kinds of stain in a single firing?

Well you can, and it’s absolutely wonderful.

It is often a good idea to choose at least a few places where – Shock! Horror! – bare unpainted glass prevails.

For your records – free download

You are welcome to a PDF download of this article.

I will be thrilled if you print it out and read it at your leisure or take it to your workplace and think about it there.

I will just ask you for a small favour in return.

If you have a friend or colleague who would like this article, please print and give them a copy, or send it them by e-mail.

Please give a copy to everyone you think will learn something here.

I’m sure you’ll agree, the information and ideas and facts and strategies in this article are important enough to pass on.

That’s why I took time, writing them down for you, as clearly as I could.

So by all means download this PDF.

And please e-mail or give copies to your friends and colleagues who will be interested.


Just please click here and the download will begin. It’s free.

Stained glass painting - 19 strategies

Free PDF download

Thanks for your attention.

Best,Stephen Byrne

How to master the 19 essential strategies

Get the techniques and recipes here

So what do you reckon about all this?

If you haven’t learned more in these few pages than from anywhere else, then let me know and I’ll eat my badger blender …

And look – there’s only so much I can tell you here – just the broad approach and why it makes such brilliant sense.

If you want the full picture with recipes, instructions, photos and even videos – plus maybe also the time and space to ask us questions – then let’s get going.

Classical techniques: for strategies #1 – #14, get “How you can trace, shade, flood and highlight (front and back) in a single firing, and why you need a lump of paint to do this (not a teaspoonful)

Working with oil: for strategies #15 – #17, get “How you can use oil to shade effortlessly & leisurely & still do all your glass painting (front and back) in a single firing

All about silver stain and oil: for strategies #18 – #19, get “Silver stain: How you can trace, blend, shade & flood from a reliable batch that keeps for months (and why water or vinegar are no good for this)

You’ll see this offer is absolutely a “no-brainer”.

Whether you’re a beginner, a serious amateur or a hard-working professional, you’ll find a proposal that’s right for you.

So don’t you spend any more time muddling along in the dark, missing your potential, wasting paint and glass.