Painting glass provides an excellent display opportunity for business windows and craft projects. There are several ways to approach your glass decoration. The best method depends on what kind of image you are going for and how permanent you wish the display to be. Because of its slick surface, glass requires special paints for any design. Unless the paint advertises that it is specifically meant for glass, it will quickly begin to flake off.
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Window Display Painting
Temporary window paint is used by businesses for seasonal displays and advertising sales and menus. It is acrylic and is available in a wide variety of opaque colours, including neons. You simply apply it to a clean dry window with a paintbrush. This paint comes off with standard window cleaner. Use it if you need to frequently update your advertising or business promotion. If you intend your images to be permanent, use an enamel paint.
Screen printing (or silkscreening) is a more professional method of decorating glass. With this method, the artisan rubs paint over a nylon screen with a design stencilled on it. The paint goes through the screened design and sticks to the glass. The glass is then fired in a kiln to make the image permanent. You can do it yourself if you have the equipment, but many professional companies provide this service.
This is a permanent and durable method useful for window displays. Thrifty crafters can use a homemade screen and store-bought glass enamels. Unless you have access to a kiln, you will not be able to fire the enamel paint to the glass as a professional company might, but several kinds of glass paints in hobby stores do not require firing. They won't be fused to the glass but still provide a long-lasting image.
Airbrushes excel as tools for decorating all kinds of objects. Used with glass paint, they create free-form artwork on windows and other glass items. Airbrushes are somewhat expensive, but they last for a long time and may be used for many projects. Use them to spray over a stencil or simply to "draw" on the glass yourself, creating images through a series of gradients. You can use most kinds of glass paint, permanent or temporary. Be sure to wear a face mask and do not inhale any fumes while you work.
Stained Glass Painting
Craft stores sell tubes of glass paint that is designed to create a stained glass effect. Using these paints is a two-step process. Use leading to outline your chosen pattern on the glass. This leading is sold in both liquid form in tubes or in solid preformed strips and is available in black and metallic colours. The leading creates raised lines on the glass surface. This outliner creates barriers on the glass to keep the different colours of paint from mixing. After allowing the leading outlines to dry, use the stained glass paints to fill in the pattern areas, creating a stained glass design. Create your own designs or purchase designs at craft stores.
Spray cans work best with stencils, store bought or made with masking tape. Spray paint that is intended for glass is good for permanent home decor projects. The major advantage of spray paint for glass is the number of special effects available. In addition to traditional colours, a paint is available that deposits a mirror-like film on glass, as well as those that create webbing, frosting and a crackled texture. This method, while permanent, is intended for indoor application only. If you use it on a window, do it on the indoor side.
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