Stained Glass Painting Brushes

Doris Cultraro, from Rhinebeck, New York, US, writes and asks us about the kinds of brushes that we use for stained glass painting.

Here’s our list to get you started.

  • Wide narrow brushes for undercoats and overcoats
  • Blenders – large and small – which are mostly used to move wet paint around on the glass
  • Tracing brushes of various thicknesses for different kinds of line
  • Scrubs and stipplers to make highlights and texture

For today, we’ll just focus on tracing brushes and the wide narrow brushes which are so good for painting undercoats. (We’ll deal with blender, scrubs and stipplers another day.)

Tracing Brushes

Short-tipped pointed tracing brushes

Short-tipped pointed tracing brushes

We’re often asked about how long are tracing brushes are: that is, the length of hair.

Now this is a really important question, because somehow the myth has got around that real stained glass tracing brushes have enormously long tips.

Some brush-makers have even developed a range of “stained glass painting brushes” whose tips are 1.5 inches long (or more).

The plain truth is, long tipped tracing brushes are hard to use.

We only use them when we have to trace very, very long thin lines – say lines which are 18 inches long, and we want to do this in one go.

Other times we use tracing brushes whose tips are a bit less than 1 inch long.

These come in various sizes from small to large. “Small” ones make a fine stroke, large ones make a broad stroke.

Their hairs are made from sable.

For most tracing, you need fine sable brushes whose tips end in a point – exactly the same kind of sable brushes as a water-color painter would use.

Make sure you get high quality brushes.

And, to repeat, you rarely need tracing brushes whose tips are longer than 1 inch. Ours aren’t meant for glass painters at all. They’re top-quality water-colour brushes, made by A.S. Handover of London, series 99.

Wide Narrow Brushes, Also Known As “Hakes”


Excellent for undercoats and for softening traced lines

Jackie Carey, from Malvern, England, wrote and asked about the make of our wide narrow brushes. She said:

“I’m having trouble finding decent hakes. I’ve bought several from local art shops. Some were dirt cheap, and others were not-so-cheap, but they all shed hairs all over the place. Where do you get yours from, pray?”

Let’s start by saying how we use the wide narrow brushes.

Their first use is to paint an undercoat. Their second use is to ‘change’ traced lines into shadows. This is something we cover in Part 1 of our book (free chapter here).

The best brushes we’ve ever found for both these jobs are called hakes (or sometimes haiks).

Now certainly there are many different kinds of hakes.

Our hakes are part of the “Ron Ranson” series. They are made by Pro Arte. We use the “large” size. Their item number is 50686452.

These Ron Ranson hake brushes are also used by water-color painters.

So you can ask your local art shop to place an order for you, or you can go online and find a supplier on the internet.

These brushes are worth the weight in gold. Not many stained glass painters have yet grasped their excellence. All the same, if you’re serious about making it easier for yourself to do an excellent job, go get yourself a couple of Ron Ranson hakes. They’ll last a life-time and will do you sterling service.

8 thoughts on “Stained Glass Painting Brushes

  1. Afternoon Stephen

    Could you please recommend a shop in the UK where I might be able to purchase a badger blender online?

    Many thanks


  2. Baje e-book recientemente adquirido en mi PC de escritorio, desearia tenerlo tambien en mi notebook. Pero desconozco como hacerlo – es por eso que pido vuestra asistencia. Gracias

    • You download ebooks to you notebook the same way you download them to your other computers. Two things: you need to know where they are, and you also need an app which displays your PDFs. (On my iPhone, I use three apps – iBooks, Evernote and Notebooks). I use Apple, not PCs / Android etc. so I don’t know which app to recommend. It’s possible Evernote will do it.


  3. Last year I started using my good watercolor brushes as an experiment in glass painting. I found the best trace brushes were Da Vinci series 35 kolinsky. They hold an enormous amount of paint, pointing beautifully the entire time. They are full-bellied but point naturally. I also found that the Silver brush black velvet series ( squirrel+some synthetic ) are good for applying silver stain and for use with paint mixed with turps.
    Happy New Year. Thanks for your information.

    • I most definitely agree about good quality water-colour brushes as against the long ones which some stores promote as being naturally suited to glass painters: long ones are fine – for long lines. Meanwhile like you I’ll continue to paint happily with short-haired, well-pointed, full-bellied sable water-colour brushes.

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