Glass Painting – Helpful Guide on How to Paint on Glass
This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Hardly any other material looks as noble as glass due to its simple organic shapes. It already captivates by its simplicity and its shine. But it is further enhanced by curved lettering or pretty paintings. With a little practice, unique gifts or great home accessories can be created by painting glass. Below we show you how you can decorate glass with simple techniques and as few materials as you wish.
Table of Contents
- 1 Materials Required for Glass Painting
- 2 What Kind of Paint to Use on Glass?
- 3 Paint on Glass – A Full Guide
- 4 Painting Windows With Chalk Pencils
- 5 Safety Precautions for Glass Painting
- 6 Painting Ideas for Glass
Materials Required for Glass Painting
Getting started with painting glass could hardly be easier. All you need are a few materials that you can buy in any decent handicraft, online shop or household store. You will need:
- Glass that you want to paint; be it wine or jam glasses, bowls or vases
- Glass cleaner
- Special dishwasher safe glass colors
- Water-based glass painting pencils
- Lint-free cloth
- A soft cloth
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton swabs and nail polish remover
- Various fine brushes
When it comes to glass colors you are spoilt for choice. Whether they should be durable or not depends on your art project. You will learn more about this in the next chapter.
Choose either brush colors or felt pens. Depending on what you use, you will of course need brushes. These should definitely be made of high-quality material. You shouldn’t save money here and should rather dig a little deeper into your pocket, as you get what you pay for. The brushes should be soft and very fine. With the nail polish remover as well as the cotton swab you can fix possible mistakes in your work of art. Soak the cotton swab with the nail polish remover and gently wipe the area to be corrected.
What Kind of Paint to Use on Glass?
Both washable glass colors and durable glass colors are suitable for various art projects. In general, glass colors can be divided into two categories:
Acrylic resin-based or water-based paints are commercially available. They are either opaque or glazed and have the advantage of being very viscous. This means that they do not run so easily and also hold well on vertical surfaces without creating ugly noses.
Washable Paint for Glass – Not Durable
These glass paints adhere to smooth surfaces but can be washed off again with dishwashing detergent and water. They are well suited for temporary embellishments without leaving marks. Therefore the washable glass colors are ideal for practice and children. Washable glass paint is particularly suitable for the non-permanent decoration of windows, mirrors and glass display cases.
Waterproof Paint for Glass – Durable Glass Paint
If you want to decorate dishes with glass paint, it should not only be durable, but also dishwasher and scratch-resistant. Furthermore, there is a difference between colors that are dishwasher safe and colors that are not suitable for the dishwasher. For example, there are acrylic paints that are not only suitable for glass but also for painting stones, but which are not or only to a limited extent dishwasher-proof. They are also suitable for projects that are intended as living accessories and should only be wiped with a damp cloth from time to time. When wondering what paint to use on glass, it’s often best to find something as durable as possible.
For the painting of objects of daily use, for example to decorate glasses, we would recommend heat-drying paints. These are particularly durable after they have been baked in the oven. With them your painted glass will be waterproof, and they also withstand higher temperatures in the dishwasher.
Otherwise, there are special enamel glass colors, which are often provided with a primer and a protective lacquer. These are usually dishwasher safe.
Effect colors add a very special touch. For example, there are frost colors that give the glass a satin-like appearance. If you apply these to the glass and immediately brush lightly over it with a wooden stick, you can apply clear patterns and lines and turn plain wine glasses into something special. If the paint has already dried, you can draw these patterns with a cotton swab and nail polish remover.
Glass Painting Pens
Can you paint glass with pens? Yes! Felt-tip pens are suitable for easy handling. These can also be burned in the oven and can be used relatively easily even by beginners. As they have a fine tip, they can be used for very filigree work, such as decorating the stem of a wine glass or to apply floral designs.
Markers are not special glass painting pens, but they are perfectly suited for simple lettering. Glasses can also be refined very quickly in this way. These pens are weather, heat, and water-resistant and do not require baking. Since the width of their tips varies, you can use them for a wide variety of works of art.
For fun glass painting as well as by professional use, these colors are only conditionally recommended, as they tend to form streaks. Sometimes they do not cover properly and have to be applied in several layers. For works that are not quite so demanding, just to try them out, or for glass painting with children, they are well suited.
Paint on Glass – A Full Guide
With our step-by-step instructions, you can easily create your personalized glass. It is very important to know in advance whether the glass you want to paint is heat-resistant. After all, it is very annoying to beautify a filigree glass in hours of work, only to discover that it cannot stand the heat in the oven. You should also follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions. Some paints have to be fired, others only dried. The temperatures at which the colors must be baked can also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Is your glass heat-resistant, or does the paint only need to dry in the air? You should be clear about this in advance. Then you can get started!
Step 1: Cleaning the Surface
Before you paint the glass, it is important to clean it thoroughly. This way you will remove the grease film adhering to it. This makes it easier for the paint to stick. Spray the glass surface with the glass cleaner and wipe it thoroughly and gently with the lint-free cloth. It’s best to use disposable gloves for this step to keep the glass free of grease. Afterwards, clean the glass with water to remove the glass cleaner. Dry it carefully.
Step 2: Masking and Preparation
You should cover the top edge of drinking glasses with masking tape so that no paint gets there and your lips do not come into contact with it when you drink. About two centimeters should be protected from the paint. With thin glasses, it is also important to protect them against external pressure so that they do not break. To do this, insert a cloth that fills the glass well – and of course, be very careful. Now prepare all the materials you need and let your creativity run free.
Step 3: Working With Templates
If you want to work without a template, you can simply skip this step. Otherwise, read on:
For working with templates you will also need a template and scissors. Cut out your stencil. You can draw it yourself beforehand or find one on the Internet and print it out. Unlike porcelain painting, there is a special trick here. Since glass is transparent, you can stick the stencil to the glass from the inside and trace the contours from the outside. Moisten the stencil for this and simply press it onto the surface. This ensures excellent adhesion. Of course, you can also use adhesive tape.
Now trace the contours with the pens or brush and fill them in. If you want to use a new color, you always have to wait until the previous one has dried. Otherwise, you will smudge the colors.
There are also self-adhesive templates that are glued to the outside of the glass. These are often used for floral patterns. A sponge is often used to apply the paint. After drying, the stencil is carefully removed. There are even some that can be cleaned with clear water and reused.
Step 4: Working Without Templates
You can also apply your writing or drawing freehand on the glass. When drawing, you should first draw the contours. You can do this with a washable pencil if you are still unsure about painting on glass. Otherwise use a very fine brush. Now you can paint the contours. Make sure that one color is always dry before you apply the next one.
If something has gone wrong, you can correct the error immediately with a pencil dipped in nail polish remover. If you only notice the mistake when the paint has dried, you can remove it with a scalpel. However, you must be very careful not to leave scratches on the surface of the glass!
Let the Paint Dry
Depending on the color, this must now be fired in the kiln. After the baking time – which can vary (see above) – you let the glass cool down in the oven. Once cooled, it is ready for daily use and even for the dishwasher. It is important not to preheat the oven. Otherwise, the glass could crack. Unless it is thick glass – for example, a jam jar – it cannot tolerate large temperature jumps.
Highlighting the Contours
If you want to give your glass a very special touch, draw the contours a little clearer. It will enhance the beauty of your work. Use a special relief paste to highlight the outer lines. For this purpose, the paste is filled into a squeeze or liner bottle so that it can be used more efficiently. Now you can work with it precisely, without smearing the lines.
Patterns of the window color technique are very well suited as a template for this method. You can roll up the pattern a little and push it into the glass so that it is clearly visible from the outside. Then you draw the contours. When working with relief paste you should wear gloves, as the liquid paste can be irritating for the skin. After drying, the relief paste is harmless.
Painting Windows With Chalk Pencils
Windows painted with special crayons gives your living room a unique ambiance. Chalk pencils are washable and easy to remove with clear water and window cleaner.
For children, it is loads of fun to finally be allowed to paint something other than just paper. This is especially true if they don’t like to hear the sentence “Don’t paint the furniture!” This allows them to let off steam creatively – and mom and dad simply wipe the colors off the windows when the children have finished. Don’t forget to take a picture of it before!
However, you have to keep in mind that crayons naturally stick to the walls and furniture. So children should not be left alone with them.
Safety Precautions for Glass Painting
As far as painting glass is concerned, there are a few safety aspects to consider, as there are some dangers present. Especially when decorating wine or champagne glasses, breakages can easily occur. Children should not handle glass that is too thin. It is much too fragile for clumsy little hands. There is therefore a considerable risk of injury. Jam jars are very suitable for them to try out. Also for adults: safety first!
In addition, attention should be paid to the toxicity of the colors. Therefore, always tape the upper edge of glasses with masking tape before decorating. No color should reach the lips when drinking.
Attention must also be paid when painting with children. Even if you think your child is old enough and has already passed the oral phase, where he or she puts everything in his or her mouth, children can always surprise you. This is another reason why children should never be left alone with the paints.
Painting Ideas for Glass
Too bad about the nice jam jar! Once it has served its purpose, it ends up in the bottle bank. Or? It is great fun for children to paint clean jam jars. With a template, you can create a great decoration for the children’s room. In it, you can store little treasures like little stones or dry little leaves.
How about a self-designed lantern? With the help of colorful glass colors and an LED light, you can give every room a new shine. You can also use jam jars for this or buy larger jars in any well-stocked furniture store. You can make the jars seasonal or orientate yourself on certain holidays. Create cozy Christmas lights with painted Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Or try scary Halloween lamps with bats and pumpkins.
A glass flower vase can be decorated with all kinds of funny ideas. Why not paint them with little beetles and ants to make it look as if they are crawling up the flower stems. Have you surprised your partner with a small but nice compliment lately? Leave him a greeting on the bathroom mirror with washable window chalk. Looking in the mirror in the morning and saying “Have a nice day! I love you!” will put you in a good mood.
The same applies to stained glass: Anything that pleases is allowed. With a little creativity and few materials you can create great unique pieces. Whether as a gift or your own home accessory, whether durable or washable, there are no limits when painting with glass colors. We hope you have plenty of fun while trying this out!