Glass painting is a versatile craft that can be applied to stained glass works of art, vases, even wine glasses and stemware. Most paints can be adapted for use in painting glass, but some types of paint are more suited for the purpose. The following types of paint can all be used on glass, but some paints will require additional steps or materials to make the glass permanent and scratch-resistant.
Acrylic paints are very versatile and can be used on canvas and paper as well as glass. Glass painting techniques using acrylic paint differ depending on the thickness of the paint. Acrylic paint from the tube may be thick enough to require only one or two coats but craft paint is often much thinner and requires the application of three or four thin layers to reach the desired level of opacity when painting on glass. Once it dries, acrylic paint may scratch or flake easily so it is best to cover it with a protective layer of clear finish.
Glass enamel provides the artist with a wide range of colour choices as well as the ability to mix colours in any combination imaginable. Glass enamels actually consist of fine glass particles which are typically mixed with a medium to create a liquid, paint-like substance. The enamel is then applied to the glass and fired in a kiln to achieve permanence. In addition to painting enamel onto glass, the particles can be airbrushed or dry brushed onto the surface. Whenever working with glass enamel, wear safety goggles and a mask to avoid inhalation of the glass particles.
Paint markers are available with a variety of tips including fine tips, thick tips, and brush tips which make them ideal for drawing and writing on glass. Some paint markers are designed especially for glass painting, filled with non-toxic, thermo-hardening, water-based paints in many different colours. Once the design has been drawn or brushed onto the glass, paint from paint markers can be heat set by following the instructions included with the paint markers.
Oil-based paints are frequently used for painting on stained glass and are one of the easiest paints to use on glass. Like regular oil paints, oil-based stained glass paints can be mixed on a palette to achieve a wide range of colours but mixed paints may fire unevenly. Because they use an oil-turpentine base, these paints must be fired at low temperatures because they will flake or burn up in the higher temperatures used for water-based paints.
Many craft stores now sell squeezable tubes of paint specifically designed for painting on glass. These paints work best on non-porous surfaces and a layer of surface conditioner should be used first so the paint will stick. Glass paint is typically transparent and microwave and dishwasher safe. These types of paints are very easy to use when painting on glass and they are more convenient than other methods because it is not necessary to set the paint using the heat of a kiln or oven.