ART OF STAINED GLASS
HOW TO PAINT GLASS

The Tradition, Yesterday And Today
Glass Painting is a traditional process used since the Middle Ages to enable leadlighters to create detail such as is encountered, for instance, in hands and faces.

Because the art got it start in the windows of churches and cathedral, in a time where the only available were very vivid (cobal blue, copper red, silver yellow), and where the painted needed to be seen from a distance, it was mostly expressed through the usage of coarse lines of tracing black. To this day, for better or for worse, stained glass painting is associated with this rough representational style. Some artists try to keep the traditional aspects alive, with a contemporary touch; others break completely free of the medieval-inspired aesthetic emphasizing a very personal interpretation of the technique.

Glass painters have the following techniques at their disposal, that they use in various proportions:
  • Tracing black
  • Matting with opaque pigments
  • Silver stain
  • Enamels
  • Lead-free paints
  • Blendable paints
  • Different paint media
SAFETY CONCERNS:
  • Most paint powder contains lead. Use a mask to reduce exposure, the process does create fine airborne particles.
  • Do not eat around glass painting work areas.
  • Don't leave paper or kindling around the kiln.
Sometimes as you paint, you will notice that paint beads in some areas, and does not spread nicely on the glass surface. Your glass needs to be impeccably clean before you work, and cleaning the glass is a 3-step process. You cannot skip these steps, or substitute. I tried with scouring pads, ethanol, acetone, soap... and I'd still get areas where the paint beads.

CLEANING YOUR GLASS:
  • Daub a slightly moist rag in whiting (calcium carbonate), and scrub, scrub, scrub.
  • Wash off with dishwashing liquid soap.
  • Finish off with ammonia-based window cleaner, such as Windex.
For the tutorial, we will paint a butterfly. The black and white image is to be used for the tracing black, matting, and the colored image as a reference for enameling and silver stain. This butterfly can be completed in 4 firings. If you are not satisfied with the results, do it again! There is no better way to learn than to repeat the same art work until it looks the way you want it to turn out. To print the patterns, save the images below and print, or print directly, by right-clicking on them.

FULL PATTERN:


TRACING BLACK:


MATTING:


SILVER STAIN:


ENAMEL: