- Often called enamels or vitreous enamels, they are a mixture of metallic oxide pigments, flux and ground glass.
- They are used for surface decoration, and are fired on permanently in a kiln.
- Their colour and opacity depends on the type of metal oxide used.
- When painting glass, you need to use a face mask, as inhaling the dust is dangerous.
There are masses of different types of paint, and lots of confusion as a result. Broadly, they’re divided into two main categories: opaque (that you can’t see through) and transparent paints.
Firstly, there’s a range of various browns, black, and greys in what’s often called ‘glass pigments’. Reusche is expensive, but probably supply the best of this type of stained glass paint.
These paints are what you see used in church windows for drapery and facial features.
It sounds dull, but if you imagine some of the bright colours in your stained glassart partially covered with dramatic painting, you’ll understand how exciting this type of paint is.
Have a look at the John Piper window above – see how the dark painting has created an almost 3-D effect? And how the black paint actually makes the colours – particularly the yellow – stand out more vividly?
2. Colored Paint
The second type of opaque paints – more commonly called enamels – are coloured. There’s a huge range of colours and they vary between manufacturers, who each have several different types of enamel.
Some are high firing – suitable for use at fusing temperatures, some are lead-free – for tableware, and some are made for architectural applications and withstanding the weather.
Above are some tests of Range 34 Ferro enamels. You can see the colours are bright and varied. They’re best used in situations where privacy is needed, or where the light source is from in front – rather than through – them.
Johnson Matthey also makes three ranges of opaque enamels for architectural use.
Transparent paints also come in a wide range of colours, and are best used for architectural work, with light coming through the glass.
The complaint I always hear from my students about transparent enamels, is that they are wishy-washy. They can be layered up and fired repeatedly to deepen their colour, but really it’s best not to compare them to coloured glass.
You’ll never achieve that gorgeous depth of colour or transparency that we all love, but they do have a charm and benefits of their own.
What painting with transparent paints does do, is to allow you to change colour within one piece of glass without the need for lead. And that can really free your designing up. Imagine not having to think about whether you can cut a certain shape, but just painting instead. Lovely!
Just like the opaques, there are lots of manufacturers of transparent paints.
I’ve used Ferro and Heraeus and prefer the colours achieved with the latter, although Ferro do a fantastic blue.
This commission window (above) for a narrow boat double door used Heraeus transparents.
Try Art Glass Supplies at Delphi Glass who have a good range of materials.
Now you're clear about what type of paint you need for your project, you're ready for Perfect Paint Mixing
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