Airport Security

And how to mix your tracing paint

I promise you a great video in a moment – how to mix your tracing paint.

But just let me tell you first about a funny thing which happened at the airport. (Thank goodness David likes dogs.)


We were flying out to give a two-day course at the famous PELI studios in Holland.

The title of the course: “Paint Better, Fire Less”.

And a key thing we planned to teach was, doing all your tracing and shading in a single firing (like this) plus using other media on top.

Yes, all in just one firing, because this saves you time and money and also looks amazing.

Now I think something strange must have happened back here in the studio while we were packing our bags.

You see, I got through Security without a care in the world.


But David – well, David was a different case entirely.

David was detained.

Yes, while I was skipping freely on the Other Side, privately calculating the odds I would end up giving the seminar on my own, David was being sniffed all over; you know what dogs are like.

And believe me, these Alsations were big.

The reason was, when he was scanned, the needle went off the dial on account of … nitro-glycerine.

Just as it was getting like that last scene in The Boys from Brazil, Security called off the dogs and marched David to the Interview Room.

There, in thankful privacy, he was allowed to explain his craft and respectfully to suggest that maybe the instrument was showing a false positive:

We paint our glass with all kinds of media, Officer.

But I do assure you nitro-glycerine isn’t one of them.”

While David made his explanations, I am glad to say they held our plane.

We duly got to Holland and were therefore able to demonstrate and teach our single-firing method (without the nitro).

How to mix your tracing paint

And one thing we focused on – one thing we always focus on – is: getting it right on your palette before you start to trace or shade.

So for now – in just three minutes of your time – watch and see how much you learn.

It’s how to prepare your paint for tracing, how to load and shape your brush, how to test your paint (maybe as here you’ll need to mix it more), and then – you’re great to go.

Watch with your own eyes and see what comes to you:



If you’re keen to learn or revise the key techniques, please take 2 minutes to have a look at this course we filmed over here.

16 thoughts on “Airport Security

  1. Hello Stephen, hello David,

    That is a story to remember: I hope that you next course travels go easier ;-).

    It’s nice to know that your new DVD will be ready next month. I will definitely want a copy and I am so looking to learn new things 🙂

    Give my regards to everyone!

  2. Hey guys!

    I’m happy you’re back on my computer! Thought maybe you’d made your millions with some oily sheik, and had retired from the grind to a life of luxury.


    • Aside from a few days’ holiday, Geoff, we’re always here and working hard. But sometimes I don’t want to write too much because I want to keep it alive and interesting, is all.

  3. Your emails have always been entertaining as well as educational.

    First thing I looked up after reading your P.S. was propylene glycol.

    Besides being in cosmetics and some food products, where does one find propylene glycol to paint with?

    All the best!

    • Hi Francesca,

      We get ours from a UK chemical/science firm which supplies to laboratories. There will be similar firms in most countries. I’ll look up the chemical notation when I get back to the studio on Monday week (having a few days’ holiday right now).


  4. Tricks of soldering – but only in the newsletter. How do I access this article?

    I hope you can help!

  5. Hi Stephen and David!

    I am glad with this novelty of the next DVD and curious to see it.

    What a story! You travel with a lot of surprises in the airport … Thank goodness that the end of your and David story in the Airport was different in comparing to the film you mention.

    By the way, I like this thriller. The film is quite interesting and in spite of the title, the film was filmed in a different country … quite small and neighbor of Brazil, called Paraguay. Well, this is only a detail.

    All the best for you and David!

  6. Hello David and Stephen: Always love receiving your mails – full of information of course, and always fun to read, too. Seeing the message from Paula about tricks of soldering – could you send the reply it to me, too, please? Every now and then I feel like going back to basics because it is such a drag to get towards the end of a project and not have neat little ‘buttons’ of solder, or whatever. Also, do you have an opinion on ‘No days glaze’? I did have a go some years ago when I first heard about it but it didn’t ‘grab’ me. What do you think? All the best to you both, Shelagh

  7. Question: is the paint you use for tracing the same paint you use for shading? The reason I ask is, I learned that there are two (different) paints – one for tracing (contour, mixed with vinegar), and a second for shading (grisaille, mixed with water and gum).

    During my education I used the tracing paint with vinegar. And when I let it dry overnight, you can add a second layer with water, and the paint won’t come off – it doesn’t dissolve. Only I can’t find this specific kind of paint any more.

    When I watch your videos and you apply on a new layer with water, I can see that your tracing lines just dissolve. It gets messy. With the paint I mean, you don’t have that effect. Did you know about this kind of paint I mean?

    Monique, Antwerp

    p.s. I think it’s possible to make the kind of paint I mean … but I ‘m not chemist.

    • Hi Monique,

      You raise various points.

      1. Yes, some manufacturers distinguish between “tracing” paint and “shading” paint. I don’t really understand this, because a traced line is nothing but a fine, dark shadow. The point is, as we show time and time again, you can use the same tracing paint for lines and also shadows.

      2. You say our lines dissolve when we apply a wash of water. Yes, that’s the point – we want them to. The whole purpose is, to turn them into shadows. That is why we also use a blender: if we didn’t intend to turn them into shadows, certainly we would not blend them as we do. And then, after we have blended them – ‘softened’ them – we re-instate them.

      Which means there isn’t any “mess” at all.

      Plus we get all our tracing and shading done straightaway – without waiting overnight or anything like that.

      I hope you understand we are not saying this is the correct way to paint the whole time.

      We are simply saying this is one style, and it’s extremely versatile.

      When you know this style, other styles are extremely easy.

      But it’s up to every glass painter for them to choose for themselves which techniques/methods best suit their own work.

      I hope this helps.


      P.S. Reusche tracing black, mixed with vinegar, or even not mixed with vinegar, could easily be used as you describe. Whether the line dissolves or not also comes down to your technique (not simply to the recipe of the glass paint or to the medium you’ve mixed it with).

Comments are closed.