In Part 2 of Glass Painting Techniques & Secrets from an English Stained Glass Studio, you discover an amazing technique for painting with oil-based stained glass paint on top of unfired – note this: unfired – water-based paint.
This is the exact technique we use each day to achieve a particular sense of depth and contrast in our work.
That’s the point about the information you get from us: it’s all tried and tested to the limit.
Sure, there’s always more to learn.
But what you learn with us is excellent and true.
Now this particular technique involves oil and brush.
But have a look at this sample piece of painted stained glass.
This is the very piece which caught Penny’s eye when she took time off from the front-line of our National Health Service – leaving the nation at the mercy of Swine Flu – while she spent a weekend with us at Stanton Lacy.
And what a stained glass painting course that was.
A time when people meet each other and immediately know that they will meet again.
Penny wanted to know how the piece was made, so here’s precisely what you all need to know.
It’s not done with oil and brush, but with oil and nib.
Here’s how we painted it.
Tools & materials
You will need: light-box, painting palette, palette knife, painting bridge, a roll of absorbent kitchen paper, a tiny amount of Reusche tracing black glass paint, essential oil of clove and essential oil of lavender, small pot for storage, and a dib pen nib holder with a suitable nib like this:
You’ll get this kind of holder and nib from any shop or website that sells calligraphy supplies.
It’s a good idea to try several shapes of nib to find out what works best for you.
Note: Brian Donahue (Sierra Vista, Arizona) wrote to say that massage oil was also an excellent medium, and much cheaper than oil of lavender.
- Prepare the oil-based glass paint. Measure a bit less than half a level teaspoonful of Reusche tracing black onto your painting palette. Add approximately 10 drops of clove oil and 4 drops of lavender oil. Mix with your palette knife until smooth. Test with pen and nib. If the mixture is too runny, add more glass paint and mix it in. If it’s too thick, add a few more drops of lavender oil and mix them in.
- Clean your glass with a few drops of washing up liquid and tap-water. Wipe dry with kitchen paper.
- Practice on glass and get to understand the capabilities of your nib and the characteristics of the oil-based glass paint. Just doodle and make marks to your heart’s content.
- When you’re ready, clean and dry the glass again, and place it on top of design.
- Copy the design. This takes quite a while, but there’s none of the time-pressure that you’ll meet with water-based stained glass painting.
- Fire the glass. We use the same schedule as water-based glass paint. (But, if there were considerable amounts of oil, we’d also soak and dry at 100 centigrade / 210 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes before rising to top temperature.)
- Use your palette knife to scrape any remaining oil-based glass paint into a small sealable storage jar. It will keep like this for ages.
- Clean your palette with soapy water and kitchen paper.
Points of special interest
- You load the nib by turning it upside down and scooping upa small quantity of oil-based glass paint.Be careful not to load too much.
- Test each load before you bring your nib anywhere near the glass.
- Oil-based paint will become more fluid as the temperature rises. So be aware of the fact that the temperature of your light-box will affect the rate of flow. In other words, your mixture may become more fluid in the course of your painting session.
- There’s no gum Arabic in this mixtue. Therefore take care not to damage any of the painted lines.
- Whether or not you can correct a stroke depends on the steadiness of your hand and its proximity to other strokes. To correct a stroke, use a twist of kitchen paper, or a cotton bud. This is harder to do than with water-based paint mixed with gum Arabic. There’s also risk of smearing.
- Unlike water-based paint, you can easily paint half-a-stroke, then load your nib again to complete it.
- It’s also easy to enlarge the width of a stroke.
- It’s economical to use.
To finish our particular piece, we fired the glass two further times.
For the first firing, we added and blended a light wash of oil-based paint – exactly as you learn in right here.
For the second firing, we applied silver-stain to the back of the glass.
Would you like the design? If so, it’s here: free stained glass design for fighting bird in oil and nib.
Pros & cons of stained glass painting with nib and oil
As always, if you’re restoring a piece of broken stained glass, the only question is: how was it originally painted?
If nib and oil were used, then that’s what you should use to make the restoration as unnoticeable as possible.
It’s a different question when painting new work.
Many people enjoy nib and oil because it feels more familiar than working with a brush. After all, we’re all accustomed to using pen, and many people still use pens with nibs.
Also, the oil-based medium appears more forgiving than water-based glass paint. (But you’ll be wise to remember that, since it dries incredibly slowly, unfired oil-based paint is far easier to damage than unfired water-based paint with gum Arabic.)
Another advantage is that you can adjust lines, making them longer or wider, without any pressure of time.
So perhaps the main disadvantage is aesthetic and subjective.
- The nib-drawn lines are the same darkness for their whole length, whereas brush-based lines often vary from one moment to the next.
- This quality of the brush may be considered an imperfection. But we think it’s an imperfection with the potential to create interest and variety in the work that we design and make.
What do you think of “brush vs. nib” with regard to your own work?
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