Old Brushes, Old Recipes for Glass Paint and the Old Way of Painting as Much as Possible in a Single Firing

Background research

This past week I’ve exchanged daily e-mails with a writer who is investigating how English stained glass painting was done mid-17th century.

Old brush names

First up, we talked about the old names for different sizes of tracing brush. None of this ‘size 0’ or 2 or 4 and so on. Rather: crow, duck, goose and swan. These were taken from the names of the birds whose quills were used to hold the hairs together. That was the old-fashioned way: much nicer than numbers, don’t you think? We also talked about this.

Old recipes for glass paint

We discussed an old manuscript we have from 1640:

Ancient glass painting techniques


This MS. contains various recipes for glass paint, as well as instructions about the correct way to build your own kiln.

And the old way of painting as much as possible in a single firing

The last thing we talked about was how a great many layers of painting got done in just one firing.

Now you know the “modern way” is to trace then fire, then trace again, and fire again, then shade and fire; and so on.

All the same, the best way to get a rich, authentic look is to do as much as possible in a single firing.

True, the ancients didn’t use Propylene Glycol as you, a 21st century glass painter, can – if you so choose.

But the ancients certainly did use oil.

So watch this demonstration of all those layers the ancients painted – before putting it in their hand-built kiln and fixing it forever.

It’s a three-minute video.

Watch it here.

You’ll see how much painting you can do in just one firing.