How to Paint Art on Window Panes

Written by j.e. cornett
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Glass-painting is a centuries-old art that allows you to create designs on glass or ceramic surfaces. Painting on glass window panes allows you to create a work of art that's also practical, creating privacy without the need for curtains or other window treatments. While glass-painting is not difficult, beginners should practice on other glass items, such as jars, or old picture frame glass before adding works of art to window panes, perfecting their technique before putting it on permanent display.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloths
  • Tracing paper
  • Stick-on stencils
  • Stencilling sponges
  • Printed designs
  • Glass paint markers
  • Glass paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water

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  1. 1

    Clean the window pane with rubbing alcohol and soft cloths. Repeat until the window is free of dirt and residue that can prevent paint from adhering to the surface.

  2. 2

    Practice your design, using tracing paper taped to cardboard. If you will be painting on a window pane installed on a window, hang your cardboard and tracing paper up so that you get a feel for painting on a vertical surface. Practice is important whether you are freehand painting with brushes, stencilling using sponges or tracing from a pattern with glass markers. When you've perfected your design on tracing paper, allow your design to dry, then gently remove the paper from the cardboard, and tape it to the window pane to get an idea of what your design will look like.

  3. 3

    Paint a stained-glass design on your window pane by outlining the design with a black or other dark-coloured glass paint marker, which will provide the "lead" outlines for your design. Allow the glass paint marker outline to dry according to package directions before filling in with glass paints.

  4. 4

    Attach the self-stick stencil to your window for a stencilled design, then fill in with glass paints or glass markers. Use stencilling sponges to apply glass paints. Allow the glass paints to dry according to package directions before attempting to remove the stencil.

  5. 5

    Free-hand paint designs on glass, using glass paints or markers. Allow designs to dry according to package directions.

  6. 6

    Trace a pattern from a design by attaching the design to the back side of the glass, then trace from the image on the right side of the glass. Allow paints to dry according to package directions before disturbing glass to remove the pattern.

Tips and warnings

  • Glass paints come in an array of formulations. Some require nothing more than painting onto a glass surface, while others require the glass item to be heated or otherwise treated after application of the paint. Choose a paint suitable for use on window panes.
  • Puffy glass paints are perfect for creating raised "leading" in stained glass designs, or for adding texture to any design.
  • If possible, paint on a window pane that can be removed to a horizontal position. Many glass paints are thin, and painting on a vertical surface can be difficult. If you cannot remove the pane to a horizontal position, try using your paints on a jar or other vertical surface before attempting to paint a window pane.
  • Follow the directions for the paints you have chosen. Otherwise, paint could set improperly, among other problems.

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