The Right Brush – In Action

In just a moment, you'll see a perfect brush in action ...

In just a moment, you’ll see a perfect brush in action …

Hello again,

Yes, I want you to see a different brush in action.

Well, two different brushes actually.

And you’ll maybe have a laugh at the second one – but, hey! – I can take it.

And my general point is how the right tool makes life very easy.

It’s just that sometimes it’s a “judgement call” whether it’s my talent or my tools or my paint etc. etc. which is giving me problems.

And maybe you do this too, because I’m certainly more inclined to “blame myself” rather than anything else. (Good thing too because it’s usually me!)

So here’s a perfect case where someone – no matter how talented they were – could struggle with the wrong brush or do it easily with the right one.

There’s a useful 3-minute video just below. But first, a few words about the project …

The context

Right, these are inscription panels we’re working on right now – long strips of glass with writing on them. In this case – the virtues in Latin. (Yes, the tycoon wants to be reminded of the virtues. That makes me smile. And you?)

So on the front, we’ve already done the writing.

And on the back, it’s now time to add some decoration between each word. First there is an undercoat (not shown), then the decoration with a perfect brush (shown), finally a bit of “roughing up” (shown) because the skylights must look old.

So here’s a photo of the decoration:

The tycoon's decorations

The tycoon’s decorations

And here (like you saw last time) is the brush:

The right brush for the tycoon's decorations

The right brush for the tycoon’s decorations

It’s an acrylic brush with a chisel head.

The quick video

And here’s the video – cool music, too:

Let me know what you think, or if you have questions …

All the best,

All the best

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9 thoughts on “The Right Brush – In Action

  1. Hi! I have a question. How do you keep the paint undamaged on the side that is in contact with the kiln shelf during firing? Is kiln wash enough? I ask because I haven’t had to use that technique yet.

    If you could help I would be grateful.

    • Hi Angela,

      Like Bonnie says (just below), the technique works fine: you need enough gum Arabic in the paint so that the underside isn’t bruised or scratched by the whatever surface (kiln wash, kiln paper, whiting etc.) it comes in contact with.

      There is also one other thing that’s very important: see my answer to Marian’s question below.

      All the best,

  2. I love watching you gentlemen work! Nice brush strokes. I love the fact that you’re using an ordinary house brush…I guess in England you’d have to be good at making things look old with all that history there 🙂

    Thank you for sharing and for the delightful music…

    (and in regards to Angela’s question….I’ve painted on both sides of my glass and fired using shelf paper and the results were great. I’ve also used just powdered whiting sprinkled on the shelf and that works well, too)

  3. I am wondering if you fired the glass before you painted the back side? I have painted on both sides and then fired it but the side of the glass that was in contact with the thin fire paper did not fire well, in fact the paint brushed off as if it hadn’t been fired while the side facing up fired fine. HELP?

    • Hello Marian,

      No, we didn’t fire the front before we painted and fired the back. There are a couple of important points I need to make – and then you just go ahead and do a small test piece … you’ll see it’ll work just fine.


      First, as I mentioned to Angela (above), you do need to be sure there’s enough gum Arabic so that the contact side of the glass isn’t bruised by the surface it rests on. Now don’t go over-board with gum Arabic. When I say “enough gum Arabic”, I only mean “the usual amount”.

      Second, the kiln maybe needs a slightly different schedule. Maybe a slightly hotter one, or maybe just a slightly longer soak at the top. This is because the heat needs to seep through to the surface which isn’t facing the glass.

      Third, you need to be sure that whatever surface the painted glass is resting on does not contain any ingredients which prevent the paint from firing. That’s why I am happiest with whiting. It’s clean and simple. But of course we also sometimes use fiber board or fiber paper.

      So I am just wondering whether anything in points two or three give a clue to why your underside paint just brushed away. I reckon they do. You’ll soon solve this, I’m sure of that.

      All the best,

  4. Hello Stephen,

    Well, to start this, I have to say you’ve changed my outlook. I was facing a few ups & downs today, but your post, video and the music in the background took me all the way back to Ludlow.

    The video is very helpful, and the comments and your replies added more information and supported your post and how we can use a few “everyday” things to add more touch to our glass painting. Who would ever think that this nice painting was made by using an acrylic brush? But again I have to say, this is what makes you guys so great. You give us everything with a proven test and a clear results, and all we have to do is grab our brush and paints and give it a try.

    Thanks for your nice work and help.

    Keep it up 🙂
    All the best,

  5. Regarding tools: using the right brush – i.e. chisel, rigger etc. – is similar to using various pen nibs in calligraphy. One needs to have a broad range of brush types to create the desired strokes.

  6. Yes I agree with both you and Stephen how you need the right brush for particular strokes. And that’s exactly what you see in the video clip here. All the same, I want to stress how a brush, being more flexible than a metal nib, does give you a greater spread of shapes than a nib. So I think there’s something special about a brush which we mustn’t lose sight of here. And this is in no way to suggest that calligraphy is easy: it isn’t, and in many, many it calls for far greater precision that most glass painting ever does (for example, with lettering on glass, you can generally tidy things up in a way that’s not possible with calligraphic lettering on paper).