Stained glass painting Q&A
Here’s a photo of some textured glass paint. And the question is, how’s it done?
Well, what do you think?
And do you think one firing or two?
Give it some thought and we’ll come back to it in a moment, because for now …
There’s one simple reason why a whole lot of painted stained glass isn’t as successful as it could be.
The painter didn’t take things far enough.
See, once you start applying paint to glass, you’re nearly always committed to going the full distance.
And truth is, it’s often a bad idea to leave any pieces unpainted.
Yes, I know it all depends on the design and where the piece is going.
All the same, bare glass in a painted panel tends to look really, really bare.
And if you leave too much unpainted glass around a painted image … then the image itself tends to look bleached.
That’s why blocking it / flooding / silhouetting around a painted image is mostly such an effective method.
Sure this honey bee looks fine:
The reason is, there’s a lot of painting on the back.
And you can see for yourself how the gargoyle on the right is ever so much more attractive than the one on the left:
The blocking in around the outline makes the outline stronger and more readable.
This isn’t easy. It’s something a glass painter learns about through experience and observation: how much light to allow through, how much paint to put on.
But inexperience and lack of confidence / excessive pride in tracing (!) often lead the novice glass painters to stop too soon.
Now the piece in question …
… is part of a much, much larger stained glass window.
Look at the spotted green border on the left … or the texture behind the painted silhoutte on blue glass … or the texture on the pink glass …
You can see how, if none of this texture were there, the whole window would look very bare indeed.
And we can imagine there was a budget for this window. There always is!
Since tracing complicated images takes a lot of time – but texturing does not – you can also imagine how texturing is a way of succeeding within the available means and resources.
In a slightly different context, this is all covered in Part 1 of Glass Painting Techniques & Secrets from an English Stained Glass Studio.
You can do this all in one firing. If there’s a painted image on the front, do it on the back. If there isn’t, do it on the front: easy.
- Apply an undercoat, badger smooth, and leave to dry.
- Load a medium-soft toothbrush with paint, and flick spots over the dried undercoat. Allow to dry.
- Clean and dry your hand. Rub the glass gently until paint is removed from where the water in the flicked spots has weakened the gum Arabic in the undercoat.
- Dust with your badger.
So once you’ve flicked paint onto the glass …
You gently rub the dried paint …
And this is the kind of effect you will achieve:
Quick and effective.
If you don’t like the result, just rub it off and do it again.
One note of caution: if there’s painting on the front, be careful when you apply the undercoat to the back – you don’t want wet paint to seep beneath …
The great thing is, randomness is fine here, so there’s not much to worry about.
Without inflicting psychological injury on yourself, have a look at various pieces and panels you’ve painted, and ask yourself if less light (more paint) would have improved the finished piece.
All the best,