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How Do You Paint on Glass Bottles?

Updated April 17, 2017

You can use paints to turn empty bottles and other glass containers into handmade ornaments. Make bud vases from small glass bottles or larger vases by removing the top of a wine bottle with a glass cutter. Use food-safe glass paints to make presentation pieces for your homemade wines, cordials or flavoured vinegars. You can apply paints directly to the bottle's surface or cover it with a layer of substrate to make decoration easier.

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  1. Clean the bottle with denatured alcohol and a lint free towel to remove dirt, grease and fingerprints.

  2. Apply fabric paints or standard acrylics with a fine brush. For a translucent effect, mix coloured paints with dimensional medium or white PVA glue (these appear white when wet, but dry clear). For faux leading, mix silver and black acrylics and apply thickly. Allow to dry completely.

  3. Paint or spray a layer of clear acrylic varnish over your coloured paint to help protect your design. Ensure that the paints are completely dry before varnishing, as moisture trapped underneath the varnish can cause it to bubble or crack.

  4. Clean the bottle, ensuring that it is free of dirt and grease. Outline your design with a glass marker in black, metallics or a co-ordinating colour. Alternatively, use a tube of faux lead to create a dimensional outline.

  5. Apply coloured glass paints to your design. Thin the glass paints for lighter colours using thinners or mediums recommended by the paint manufacturer. Apply coats of glass paint one on top of the other to create areas of deeper colour. You can apply fine details using a glass ink marker. Allow the paint to dry fully.

  6. Bake the bottle upright according to the paint manufacturer's directions, if necessary. Not all glass paints require firing.

  7. Condition (soften) the polymer clay by kneading or running through a pasta machine. Roll out the polymer clay on a glass sheet using a roller or use a pasta machine on a thin setting.

  8. Cut a strip of clay the right size to go around the body of the bottle and smooth it carefully into place. Cover the neck of the bottle with vertical strips of clay. Burnish with the back of a spoon, removing marks and fingerprints.

  9. Apply acrylic paints and/or alcohol inks using brushes, stamps or sponges. You can also use liquid polymer clay mixed with recommended pigments or with drops of alcohol ink. Allow to dry fully. You may also wish to add other decorations such as foil or glass beads.

  10. Bake the bottle according to the polymer clay manufacturer's instructions. When cooled, you can apply further colours or a layer of polymer varnish.

  11. Tip

    Note that standard acrylics and fabric paints do not adhere well to glass. You can safely rinse the painted bottle in cold water or wipe with a damp cloth to clean it. If you scrub it or use hot water and detergent, you will cause the paint to peel. If you intend to use the painted bottle to hold food or drinks, make sure that the glass paint is safe for food use before you start.

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Things You'll Need

  • Denatured alcohol (or acetone)
  • Lint free towel
  • Fabric paints or standard acrylics
  • Fine paintbrush
  • Dimensional medium or white PVA glue
  • Clear acrylic varnish
  • Glass markers (optional)
  • Tube of faux lead (optional)
  • Coloured glass paints
  • Polymer clay
  • Glass sheet
  • Roller or pasta machine
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Alcohol inks
  • Sponge (optional)
  • Stamps (optional)
  • Liquid polymer clay
  • Foil or beads (optional)

About the Author

Clare Edwards has been providing Internet content since 1998. She has written and translated for a variety of markets: everything from technical articles to short fiction and essays on alternative spirituality. She holds a certificate of higher education in electronics and audio arts from Middlesex University.

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