At Last: The Correct Way to Load and Shape your Tracing Brush

Your trace lines – your outlines, or contour lines – these lines can only be as good as your paint and tracing brush allow.

So if your glass paint is badly mixed, or your tracing brush is wrongly shaped and loaded, your trace lines can’t be right.

End of story.

That’s why today I want to show you the right and the wrong way to load your tracing brush.

All I ask three minutes of your time, that’s all I’ll take, and in return you’ll see the difference.

Bad habits plague most of us

We all have different habits in how we use our hands. Which means we often – even without thinking (that’s the problem) – transfer these habits to our glass painting.

For example, we all use a computer keyboard, which means we hammer out letters and words.

And when we write by hand and paper, we all press heavily with our pen, secure in the unspoken knowledge the ink and nib are cleverly engineered, so nothing will leak or spill.

Really, writing by hand or keyboard has become an “impact sport” (and injuries do result).

Now of course you know how working with a brush is different. Of course you know a brush is soft and springy. Of course you also know you can give it many different shapes.

We all know these things.

Yet the natural habit is still to push too hard.

Which means when people load their tracing brush, this is the kind of thing they often do:

How not to load a tracing brush

This is not the way to load a tracing brush with glass paint …

This isn’t usually the way to do it. The obvious reason is, it distorts the brush.

The less obvious reason is, it loads the brush with too much paint.

And the disastrous consequence: wrong-shaped trace lines that are far too heavy. They’re probably also runny and uneven.

The answer is, a lighter touch

So this is what you need to learn to do:

Stained glass tracing - how to load a tracing brush

This is much, much better

You must learn to twirl your brush round and round, across on the surface of the paint.

Yes, across the surface.

This is how your brush gets and keeps the shape you want – by twirling and skimming round and round.

This is also how your brush only absorbs as much paint as you want it to (because you never force it to “drink” more than its natural capacity).

In other words, don’t use your brush as if it were a broom

How not to load a tracing brush

How not to load a tracing brush – your brush is not a broom

Rather, imagine this – your brush is rather like an ice-skater:

How to load your tracing brush - this is often better

How to load your tracing brush – much better

Even if you’ve heard me say before how you load you brush by “twirling and swirling”, these photos will make things clearer.

All the best,

Stephen ByrneP.S. The only way to be sure to get all these tips and demonstrations is to sign up here for the free email newsletter.