Stained Glass Tracing

Video demonstration

Stained glass tracing: here’s how to think about it in a very different, useful way  …

Stained glass tracing – a common mistake

You see, the trouble is, it’s a common mistake to rush your tracing.

But I don’t mean to rush your strokes.

No, not your strokes – just watch this video and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

You’ll discover what it is you just can’t rush …

  1. Turn on your volume
  2. Hit “Play” and let the video load
  3. Watch – and learn what we do to guarantee each stroke is a perfect stroke …

And see what you will see:

Like the video?

You see the “twizzles” between each stroke?

That’s what you must do.

Those “twizzles” mix your paint and also load and shape your brush. It’s not “rocket science”. You just need to copy what we do here.

Yes indeed, it’s so useful to watch and learn.

It’s how Stephen learned from me, it’s how I learned from Patrick Reyntiens.

And you?

All the best,


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28 thoughts on “Stained Glass Tracing

  1. I just love watching you guys paint. It’s like a meditation. And, yes, it does help. The more I see how to lay down strokes properly, the better I’ll be able to judge my own.

    Thank you.

    • Hi July,

      We glass painters are definitely out of kilter with the modern world, but all the same the modern world is all around us.

      We hit the keyboard and letters just appear on screen …

      We use a pen and ink just flows – it just flows …

      All this is so different from using glass paint. We’re so unused to anything (apart from young children – and now so many people seem just to plonk them in front of screens) which needs such constant and attentive minding.

      Glass paint is … weird.

      But then – so are glass painters!

      I am very glad you like David’s video.


  2. Even though I have a client project on the table (well, actually, two), I am taking time to tend my pallete and my paint. With the temperature reaching 90 F or so, managing the thin layer of water around the paint is … a challenge!

    I also remember David saying (and seeing in this video) that the line you trace (when you strengthen) is your line – and not the pattern’s line exactly.

    When one remembers this, there is a calm that descends – and real learning and practice can then commence.

  3. Thank you so much David and Stephen. Your ESP is right on target! It was important that I have the re-inforced message that you put forth in this most recent video.
    You are both wonderful!
    Karen Reed

  4. Excellent video, guys. Loved watching the crisp little “flips” to get tight curves without blobbing ends. A painter truly needs to have his mind entirely on his work, or “be in the zone” as they say.

  5. Hi Guys!

    Another brilliant video! Look at the tending of the palette & those gorgeous little flicks & turns of the brush! So, so helpful to see the whole process in action rather than just reading about it.

    With you guys we get the written & the visual! A lot of creative people are ‘visual learners’ so what you are doing for the glass painters who are signed up to your website is amazingly helpful!!!! Keep up the good work!!


    P.S. Nick & I had the most incredibly enlightening time with you both. So much information & technique crammed into three days & what great company too. Loved every minute!!!! The lunches were great as well! Well done – 10 stars!!!!

  6. I was happy to see, at the very end of the video, that the final strokes are not perfect, and do not perfectly cover the lighter initial tracing. I have been doing this since 1991 and still deal with my — yes — perfectionism, even though I know better, and know that those things are never seen in the final product. Thanks!

    • Absolutely right! Many people get “hung up” on an unattainable or irrelevant ideal of perfection.

      And what often happens is, this self-criticism makes their tracing worse.

      Stained glass painting is not printing. Hence there will always be imperfections / variations / call them what you will. As long as they add to the beauty and appropriateness of the final image, all is well and good.

  7. Great to watch this video. Everything looks so natural and peaceful – watching your videos always peaks my motivation to pick up the brush and start my day.

    Maybe a little off topic, but I am interested in venturing into enamels rather than just using coloured glass, and would like your opinions on which Reusche colours to consider.

    I have seen traditional stainers, “blendable” colours and enamels – what works the best?

    Also, do you recommend an order for using enamels/colours and silver stain: would you finish with silver stain after colours, or start with it?

    And lastly, what do you mix your enamels with, oil or water?

    Thank you as always for your invaluable help!

    • Hello Rhyce,

      Our own style doesn’t call often for enamels. This is because we design with blocks of coloured glass in mind, and then, with various consistencies of traditional glass paint, we concentrate on line and shadow. This means we aren’t in a strong position to advise you here. I know we have a kit of Reusche’s transparent colours, but so far we’ve not had call to use them in our own work.

      Does this seem reasonable, that everything follows from the design? In other words, if your design calls for a colour you just can’t get from the transparent colours – or indeed from a plain piece of unenamelled glass – then you’ll need to try the range of blendable enamels.

      As for the order of firing: there’s a rule of thumb which suggests you begin with whatever media require the hottest temperature, and then work your way down with successive firings. Traditionally, you’d fire silver stain last of all, because (on most accounts) silver stain tends to “metal” once you take it “too hot”.

      So it depends on the recommended temperature for any particular range of enamels. I’ve seen some enamels which require a hotter temperature than glass paint.

      As for media: most enamels are, I believe, fine with water. Some enamels are also fine with oil e.g. Lavender but you just need to be careful with the consistency so that the enamels don’t bubble. I’m sure many enamels also work well with Reusche’s water-based painting medium (D1368).

      An observation: if you use enamels on the front of your glass, then I don’t believe it’s possible to use silver stain and oil on the reverse of the glass. This is because silver stain and oil requires to be fired “face up”, yet if you put the previously fired enamels “face down” I believe they tend to stick to the firing surface.

      Rhyce, I need to say again, we rarely use enamels because our style of design only requires them very, very rarely. That’s why our experience is limited.

      All the best with your explorations,

      • Thank you very much David! You have still been as helpful as ever. I will buy a mixed selection of what Reusche have and experiment.

        You made a great point about the difficulty of the application of both enamel and silver stain on the same piece, that I had not yet considered. I will use one or the other, which won’t affect my designs too much anyway.

        Thank you as always for your prompt and detailed replies – I appreciate the time you take out of you day to help!

        Kindest regards,

        • Hello Rhyce,

          Thanks for taking time to say you got our reply – it’s thoughtful of you to do so, because often we don’t know.

          And your comment prompts me to clarify a point I made. It’s enamel “face up” and oil-based silver stain “face down” which is likely to be a problem.

          But this still leaves at least two other combinations.

          First, enamel “face up” and water-based silver stain “face down”. Second, both enamel and oil-based silver stain “face down”.

          Best thing often is, to let the design emerge without too much consideration of how you’ll achieve it (unless e.g. a client has imposed a particular budgetary constraint), and only then look around for answers. This is how you get to push and adapt the standard techniques for your own particular ends. It can get quite exciting. And it’s possible you’ll end up with knowledge you too can share with others.

          All the best,

          P.S. We ourselves got a sample kit of enamels from Reusche – it contains (maybe) 12 small pots which will last us for ages.

    • Hi Rhyce,

      Fuse Master enamels are beautiful. Excellent transparency and clarity. You might want to give them a try …

      Also, in enamels there are beautiful yellows and ambers so silver stain is not a requirement.

      Best wishes,

      • Thank you David for the follow up, your help is invaluable as always! Thank you Karen, I’ve never heard of Fuse Master enamels before, so thanks for letting me know, I’ll have a look! Regards, Rhyce

        • I have also used the Fusemaster enamels, most recently on a window with children and animals holding hands around the earth — traced, matted and painted with the brilliant and transparent enamels Karen mentioned. They are available through the Ed Hoy catalog in Illinois. I have used them with water and gum arabic, and also with squeegee oil (pine tar oil) thinned with lavender oil. They fire at about 1050 degrees, and I agree that silver stain isn’t needed. I’ve had more luck with some than others — can recommend cobalt blue, peacock blue, emerald green, olive green, beet red, gold, chocolate brown and burnt siena, for starters.

          • I also wanted to mention that I use the Reusche glass stainers colors and silver stain when I’m doing traditional windows with figures or landscapes, etc. The Fusemaster enamels are a more recent invention and are for a different style of window — good for certain types of medallions, for example, or modern designs. When I have to replace an unsalvagable piece from an old window, it’s always Reusche.

            David and Stephen, I can’t tell you how much I have learned from your posts and videos. I learned glass painting from an artist who taught herself from books, since she found that sharing of techniques was so rare, so we just made it up as we went along, with some excellent results but n0t so simple methods! Thank you, thank you.

  8. Hi again I would like same information as Rhyce I know its not the same as coloured glass but it would be a good thing to have in the toolbox especially what Reusche paints to buy.
    I have tried ceramic paint but its opaque.

    • Hello William!

      We can tell you whatever we know, but our own studio just doesn’t design and paint with enamels in mind. I’m sorry we don’t know enough to offer you detailed information here. I know Stephen’s mentioned to you some time back how he has a kit of enamels from Reusche which he plans to test – it’s just that the hectic business of the studio hasn’t so far allowed him time to do this.

      All the best,

  9. Painting friends! Self-expression contains many universes! and yes! when working on a restoration, respect for the original is paramount.

    The Fusemaster or Reusche enamels are brilliantly expressive but should not be considered as replacements for the traditional vitreous, glass stainers colors.

    As an aside: the Fusemaster enamels are available retail from Gil and Carmen Reynolds at Fuse Master. A Google search will locate them.


  10. Many thanks. Very useful, and I love watching the tracing technique – but a better view of the pallet techniques would be also helpful.

    • Hi Graham,

      Well, I am glad to know you appreciate the importance of what happens on the palette! And yes, it’s always useful to see that. I’d just say here though how we want to focus your eyes on how slow most tracing is, how slow and deliberate: that’s the point of the clip.

      All the best,

      PS As I know you know, there’s lots elsewhere about everything which happens on the palette.

  11. I enjoyed the video and have found your blog extremely helpful.

    The following are merely suggestions and not intended to be criticisms. I had hoped this video or images might demonstrate how people do things wrong and the results of bad technique in addition to demonstrating the correct technique so that I can recognize when I’m doing it wrong. It helps learners to have a contrast between the “don’t do it this way, and here’s why” and the “do it this way and here’s why”. For example, show what the tracing and the palate looks like when people incorrectly care for their paint compared to the correct technique. It also helps for troubleshooting to have examples of different common situations where something went wrong and then explain why it happened, how to fix it and how to avoid it next time.

    Even if you like this suggestion, it might be difficult for experts like yourself to intentionally do the technique incorrectly. If so, perhaps film students doing it incorrectly before you’ve helped them improve their technique?

    I greatly appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience with us! It has been difficult finding information on these techniques.

  12. I’m new to kiln-fired stained glass painting and I am so happy to have found your site. I will get the ebook but I wanted to know if you have or plan to have any DVDs for purchase: I really enjoyed the tracing video demo.

    So good of you to share your skills like this with the mass.

    Many thanks,

  13. Hi!

    Currently I’m in hospital undergoing chemo for a leukemia-type blood condition. A good friend with whom I work from time to time sent me the link to your site and loads of notes which have been fantastic reading. (Unfortunately I can’t open some of the videos but will when I get home – something to look forwards to.)

    I work in collaboration with a stained glass studio in Fremantle, Western Australia, ‘Tradition Stained Glass’. I’m a traditional sign writer by trade and in recent years I’ve involved myself with TSG, designing and painting. I’ve really only learnt from Kim Fitzpatrick, the owner of TSG – originally the use and techniques, and from there a few books and my own journey of discovery.

    So, to have been sent the link to your website and information has kept me wonderfully occupied whilst I’m on drip.

    I’m not on my way out but on my way back in!!

    You can see some of my painted work on my website to give an idea of where I’m at. I still feel I have so much to learn and that excites me.

    I look forward to any further communication.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Cameron,

      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you like what you find here. But most of all I wish you all speed with getting better and back to your full strength again.

      Best always,

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