Stained Glass Painting with Oil – Essential Tips: Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of this mini-series on oil-based stained glass painting.

Anyone who’s just joining us today, you’ll find Part 1 right here.

And before we get going today, there are a few questions from the audience …

Question #1

Now a lot of people wrote and asked if gum Arabic is added to glass paint mixed with oil.

The answer is, we don’t add it.

Maybe it’s worth a try and maybe you’ll discover some amazing new effect. But we like to keep our oil-based glass paint completely free from gum so we can blend it to our heart’s content.

Question #2

And quite a few people asked what kind of oil we use.

Here the answer is, it depends.

For nearly all uses, oil of Lavender is excellent.

You use it to make the basic lump, then you also use it to dilute bits of the lump (a little at a time) to the consistency you want.

Oil of Lavender is broadly speaking safe to use except if you’re pregnant or find the smell distressing.

Other times – especially for conservation and restoration – we use oil of Tar.

But be severely warned that oil of Tar is dangerous to use. It’s carcinogenic, and its fumes are ghastly.

The things we do for love.

As for other oils, that’s your decision. Calculate the risks before you go ahead. Also never, ever, ever do something because you got it cheap. That’s completely the wrong approach to glass painting and to craft in general.

I know we all have our budgets.

But it’s always best to get the best even if this means getting less and using it carefully. (Don’t use Sunflower Oil just because you’ve got it in your kitchen.)

Question #3

Lastly for now, a colleague in Florida asked if we only use round-headed badger blenders for working with oil or if we also used the big ones like this:

A professional badger blender

Great for water-based glass paint (too large for oil-based paint)

The answer is, the big blender is just what you need for water-based stained glass painting.

But, for oil-based work, you just need a couple of round-headed badger blenders – one small and one medium.

You see, water-based paint dries quickly, so you must work fast and (in a sense) crudely.

Oil-based paint dries slowly, so you can work delicately and at your own speed.

On that note, let’s get going!

Tip #11 – How to store your lump overnight

You’ll be familiar with how water-mixed glass paint needs special attention to keep it fresh from one painting session to the next.

If it’s hot, we often soak a natural sponge with water and place it on the water-based lump before covering it with a pot and sealing around the edges.

There’s none of that fuss with oil-based paint.

Say you know you’ve a couple of days of oil-based painting in front of you.

Then it’s fine to leave the lump on your palette and cover it like this:

Overnight, you don't need to return the lump to its storage jar - just cover up your lump of oil-based paint like this

Overnight, you don’t need to return the oil-based lump to its storage jar – just cover it up like this

And a few other related tips:

  1. The palettes you use for oil-based paint don’t need to be as large as the ones you use for water. This is because oil doesn’t require much space for mixing and diluting.
  2. Don’t use your oil palettes also for water (unless you make time to clean them surgically whenever you change their use).

Tips #12 – 16: Highlighting in oil

We talked about softened oil-based highlights last time. You pick or scrub them out while the oil wash is still damp, then blend them lightly.

Now the oil wash has dried out overnight, any highlights you make will tend to be bolder. This is because it is now less easy to blend them (since blending will tend to scratch the paint unless you are extremely gentle).

So let’s run through a series of quick but essential photographic tips.

First, it’s often best to work from a bridge:

It's often best to highlight from the bridge

It’s often best to highlight from the bridge

Second, “Q-tips” / cotton buds (with absorbent cotton wool on the end) give you a nice clean highlight:

The cotton wool absorbs the oil and gives a nice clean highlight

The cotton wool absorbs the oil and gives a nice clean highlight

Third, absorbent kitchen towel is also good if you want to clean up larger areas:

You can use a paper towel to clean up larger areas

You can use a paper towel to clean up larger areas

Fourth, of course you can use scrubs and sticks but clean them every few strokes to remove the accumulated paint:

Clean your scrub or stick every few highlights

Clean your scrub or stick every few highlights – otherwise your glass will smear

Lastly, now the oil paint is dry, you can of course put the glass upright (against natural daylight) if this is what you need to do:

Don't hold the glass upright until the oil is dry

Don’t hold the glass upright until the oil is dry

Tip #17 – When firing, be sure to vent the kiln

Every kiln is different so you need to look at the broad picture of a typical firing schedule and then adjust it for your own kiln and also for the specific techniques you’ve just used.

One important point is this:

Always remove your kiln’s bung holes to allow the oil’s fumes to rise and escape.

We typically do a 30-minute soak on the way up at 200 Fahrenheit / 100 Celsius. And we might replace the bungs at about 930 F / 500 C (though again we might not e.g. if the firing is overnight).

Until next week!

I hope you’ve had fun and also picked up / remembered a lot of important points this past week.

I’ve certainly enjoyed my time with you.

Please send in your questions and we’ll tackle them next week.

Right now – since I know Stephen finished his painting the other day – I’m off to check on how he’s doing with adding captions to the full-length CD/DVD we’ve made.

Remember to send in your questions.

Ask whatever comes to mind so long as there’s some connection with oil-based stained glass painting.

Don’t ask what happened when Stephen tried to go through airport customs with a glass cutter in his pocket. It’s just too scary for words.

All the best,

David Williams, designer and painter of stained glass