Painting Stained Glass

Recently I purchased a small stained glass painting kit which I have been trying to use for the past couple of weeks.

Another option working with stained glass is to paint and fire pigment directly onto the glass. However, there are no ready-made paints, so I have to hand mix the powdered enamels I have by hand.

For the time being, I only have a tracing black for details and a couple of brown options.

My first attempt failed miserably, as I learned that mixing the paint requires much more precision and care than I thought it would. After some research and some help from others, we deduced that my paint was probably too thin and had too much gum arabic in it, causing it to flake and pull apart. The glass also has to be very clean when the paint is applied, which might have also contributed to the issues I was having.

Failed first attempt after firing

Before trying again, I mixed some paints to swatch and fire as a test run (which admittedly, I probably should have done the first time around).

Gum arabic and enamel pigments.

I measured half a teaspoon of each of my paints and added barely a pinch of gum arabic with the tip of my pallet knife to each.

Gum arabic is used to thicken the paint and help it stick to the glass. When the paint dries, it should be resistant to being rubbed off with your finger, but it should scrape off easily and consistently with a toothpick.

It is very necessary to work on a light table when painting stained glass. Otherwise it is nearly impossible to tell the thickness of the paint or control how much light you want to show through.

For this test run, I tried two different binding agents. Water is typically used, but I also read that vinegar is a good option and might even safe time/energy by allowing for layers. When the vinegar based paint dries, it is supposedly water resistant, so a layer of water based paint can be applied on top. I found that this was not entirely true. While the vinegar based paint was much more resistant than the water based paint, it still became muddy and problematic when it came in contact with water. An oil based option would probably work best for this technique in future tests.

Fortunately I did find a very nice texture for my brown water based paints, which I then used on a scrap piece of glass to make an etching of a little mouse. I really enjoy working this way since it allows me to incorporate drawings onto my glass. I am excited to develop this technique and start incorporating it into my work.

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