What do you mix paint with?

by Lance McQuinn
(Novato, Calif.)

We're making a stained glass window of the world and need to paint the land onto the water with enamel. I have some powdered enamel, but I don't know what kind of medium to use. Also, what temperature do I fire it to?

Milly's reply:
Wow, sounds like a really ambitious project! You can use lots of different mediums. Water is the easiest and gives the liveliest line, but it dries quickly so doesn't give you much time. Use it with a tiny bit of gum arabic - this will help with the flow and adhesion.
Alternatively you can use Damar varnish-used by oil painters - with distilled turpentine as the thinner. This gives more time, and is easier to paint lines with. Crucially, it allows you to overpaint with a water-based mix once it has dried, which means that you can fire two layers of glass paint at the same time, saving power.
Glass paints and enamels fire at between 550-650 centigrade.
I'd love to see your stained glass world once it's finished.

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Using Unknown Glass Paint?

by frank
(Sacramento, CA)

I was given a number of small jars of paint. It came from the estate of a ceramic and pottery teacher. Some of it is in powder form others are liquids. It is over 10 years old. Can I use this for coloring in some of my stained glass works. How could I test it?

Milly's reply:
I've got lots of similar pots of unknown paint! If they are ceramic colours they're probably onglazes - they will work on glass but in my experience are opaque and a bit 'dead'.
To test them for painting, you need to mix them with a bit of water and fire them - all these instructions are in the 'Painting' section of my site - and evaluate the results.
Do think about whether it's worth it for you - you'll have to test everything and if you like it, you probably won't be able to purchase any more. It may be better to start from scratch with some dedicated paint, with manufacturer's instructions. Good luck.

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Stencilling And Painting Glass Vases

I want to stencil and paint on a clear glass vase. The stencil is a combo of words and a graphic in gold or etched with a gold coloring. The rest of the glass I want to paint blue. I was thinking about liquid leading to outline the stencil to keep the colors from blending. My question is can this be done successfully? Please tell me how. Does etching cream come in colors or can something be added to it to get color? Thanks!

Milly's suggestion: Thanks for your question Lorraine. If you let one colour dry before adding the second colour, it shouldn't blend together. The liquid lead is a good idea for aesthetics, to create a division between the graphic and the rest of the glass.
I'm wondering how nice painting the whole of the glass blue will look - not in terms of the colour, but the fact that it's quite hard to get the cold paint to apply smoothly.
Etching creme doesn't colour the glass at all, it just eats into the top surface, making it opaque white. As it disturbs the surface, it makes a very good base for the cold paint. You could etch the vase first, then apply the colour.
Try practicing on cheap window (float) glass first. Have fun!

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Where can I buy glass enamels?

by Paula
(Exeter, UK)

Great website! For my new projects I'm going to try my hand at glass enamels. I am using a LOT of plate glass (coe 82+-) and understand I need to buy enamel with the same COE. Where can I buy enamel with COE 82?

Milly's reply: The compatibility issue is a real one if you are using float. Float manufacturers aren't interested in us lot and our art glass! They just want to produce glass that tempers well. So... test everything is my mantra. And write everything down... I can guarantee you won't remember in two years' time when you want to use it again!

You don't say if you want transparent or opaque enamels, or whether you're fusing with it or only need low firing (up to 650 C)? The best for opaque are Ferro. They'll be compatible with float as they are very strong colours, and therefore don't need to be put on thickly. They fire at fusing temps, so will withstand hotter (820 C) conditions. If I'm fusing with low firing enamels, I often fire first at 550C, and then cap with clear to 'protect' the enamel.

Transparent colours. Heraeus H31 range is the best one I've tried, and I've had no trouble with incompatibility with float. Again, I don't use it thickly, as it can craze. I prefer to repeatedly fire the glass with thin layers of enamel to achieve the density of colour I need.

Thompsons enamels are different. They are simply ground coloured glass. They are problematic with float. Enamel colours are a mix of a base clear frit with metal oxides to determine the colour. These are what you need, not the powdered glass (Thompsons) type.

Good luck, I hope your enthusiasm continues!

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