Stained Glass Painting with Water – the Brushes you need

The essential brushes for painting glass with water

Here’s a checklist of the brushes you must have for painting and shading glass with water-based glass paint:

  1. A large hake
  2. A three-inch blender
  3. Different sizes of short-haired sable tracing brushes
  4. Different sizes of scrubs

Water – why you need these brushes

This is where everyone starts – by painting glass with paint that’s mixed with water.

And yes, it’s absolutely fine to spend your whole time painting with water and glass paint like this.

That’s because water-based glass painting is the classical approach.

All the same, when you work and learn with us, we take you deeper into the foundations than anyone else.

Actually into knowledge that’s pretty much been forgotten …

Like how to shade before you trace …

And how to do all your painting and highlighting (front and back) in a single firing.

So now let’s talk about the real techniques of water-based stained glass painting.

That will tell you why you need these brushes (and not others) for your water-based work.

Let’s get going.

Why you need a hake

Perfect for an undercoat

Perfect for an undercoat

Most books tell you to clean your glass then trace the design.

That is, trace your design on bare glass.

This is not just a bad way to learn.

Often it is also a bad way to paint.

Often a better way to paint is to prepare the glass for the lines you want to trace.

So how do you do this?

Well, if you were decorating a room, you wouldn’t paint on bare brick

First you’d paint an undercoat. This undercoat prepares the wall for later coats of paint.

It’s just the same with glass. But who else tells you this?

And the brush you must have to paint an undercoat is the one you see on the left.

It’s called a “hake”. And it’s a “large” one.

This is the perfect brush to prepare your glass for tracing.

See, we’ve tested all the wide brushes we can find and this one is simply the best not just for priming your glass with an undercoat of paint but also for turning traced lines into subtle shadows.

This brush has it all.

Soft hairs. (They are beautifully shaped.) Good stitching (so the brush doesn’t go bald!). It’s lovely to hold and grip. And the long handle gives you a wonderful feeling of balance in your hand.

Now if we sound like madmen, just take a look at our gallery, and remember that nearly every single piece of painted glass was prepared with a large hake brush like the one here.

That’s the proof.

And Part 1 shows you how to paint an undercoat and so prepare your glass for tracing

It’s often best and also simplest to use a large hake brush to prime the surface of the glass before you trace and shade

So get a large hake. They’re worth their weight in glass paint.

Where? In Europe, order your hake from PELI Glass. Elsewhere, go to and search for “Ron Ranson Hake Brush Large”.

Why you need a three-inch blender

Essential for shading water-based paint

Essential for shading water-based paint

The next kind of brush you definitely must have is a good strong “blender” like this one here.

It’s made from badger hair.

It’s used for blending and moving water-based paint while the paint is still wet.

(It can also used for adding texture to water-based paint when the paint is wet or dry.)

Now the wonderful thing is it can also be used for turning traced lines into shadows. And we’ll come back to this in a moment …

For now, remember you’ve just used the hake to cover the entire surface of the glass with a light undercoat of paint.

And now, while the paint is still wet, you use the blender to smooth away the wrinkles you don’t want.

It’s the only brush for the job. That’s why you need one like this.

Now you’re longing to find out about tracing and shading, so let’s move on.

Why you need short hairs on your tracing brushes

The reason is, it’s nearly always mad to use long tracing brushes! Listen to this …

I remember my first glass painting lesson.

And I don’t know what my teacher was thinking off but in that I guess she was no different from most others … She presented me with a “traditional” stained glass tracing brush whose hairs were as long as my little finger!


Here’s the simple truth:

Yes, long tracing brushes have their uses.

But mostly you’re just making trouble for yourself by using them.

Yes we know very well when you look in a catalogue the “stained glass tracing brushes” will mostly be more than an inch long

This is because the retailers don’t paint stained glass!

But we do it every day.

We do it for our living in the deepest sense of the word: it earns our income and it’s our life’s work.

So we know you absolutely don’t need long hairs which can’t be controlled because they’re more like whips than brushes!

You need short and elegant hand-made brushes like these ones here – four good tracing brushes like these to paint lines of different thicknesses and also different strengths of colour:

Here you see tracing brushes in sizes 0, 1, 2 and 6

Short and perfect shaped hairs for fine and thick lines, for light and dark lines

With a set like this, you can paint everything from faint to strong, from the thin line to thick.

And it’ll be you who is in charge of them – not them who controls you.

That’s the whole point.

And that’s part of the big picture.

So, starting with our trusted friend the one and only hake:

Use for undercoats and also overcoats

Perfect for preparing your glass for delicate tracing

And a blender like this …

The large blender is just what you need for water-based glass painting

A large blender like this feels beautiful in your hand. It is just what you need for water-based glass painting

… you can make a lovely surface on which to trace.

Which means your short-haired tracing brush …

Perfect for delicate tracing

Perfect for delicate tracing

… will well and truly grip the surface of the glass, allowing you to paint an image like this:

Stained glass bee

Honey bee – painted front and back in just one firing

… front and back in just one firingget the free newsletter.

But that’s not all …

The return of the hake and blender

This is where the wheels leave the tarmac and your plane takes off. See, there’s this exciting path you can also follow:

  1. Say you’ve painted your undercoat and traced your main lines
  2. Now you can use your hake again to cover the glass with a second wash of paint
  3. Next use your blender to blur those traced lines into shadows
  4. When the paint has dried, you can reinstate the lines, which, using lovely coloured glass, gets you an effect like this in just one firing:
Stained glass crow

Using a hake, a blender and various tracing brushes on coloured glass, painted front and back in just one firing!

Maybe this too sounds so weird you want to reach for the panic button!

But again we’d say, just check out the gallery.

A whole lot of the glass there was finished in just one firing – precisely because we used these brushes to turn our traced lines into the subtlest shadows:

Glass painting with water - the classic collection

The Classic Glass Painting Collection from PELI Glass

Classic Glass Painting Tools

Now for the first time you can get these classic glass painting tools in a single collection:

  • A large hake
  • A professional three-inch badger blender
  • Four short-haired sable tracing brushes (sizes 0, 1, 2 and 6)
  • Three hog-hair scrubs

We don’t take any payment or commission from sales. That is precisely why we can honestly recommend them. – Because we have nothing to gain. Except your satisfaction.

Yes our name (“Williams & Byrne”) is on the brushes. The reason is, we use these brushes every day.

PELI Glass has assembled this kit, on our advice, for you.

You can find PELI Glass here and ask for the “Classic Glass Painting Tools“.

They will give you excellent service and provide you with remarkable brushes.

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