- There are two basic types of glass painting: high fire glass painting and low fire glass painting. High fire painting requires the paint or stain to be fired at up to 1,200 degrees, and low fire painting allows the paint to be fired at 325 degrees.
Traditional Glass Painting
- High fire glass painting is considered traditional. This is the stain and paint work that has developed over hundreds of years in union with glass panels primarily used as church windows. According to M. Bradley Walker's 1999 article in Warm Glass, this type of glass painting uses four basic paint mixtures: vinegar trace, matte, silver stain and oil-based paints. Vinegar trace paints are used for line work. The color is often quite dark and opaque. This paint is applied with both the surface of the glass being wet and the paint being wet. Once the paint dries it cannot be painted over if an area is thin. The paint can be scraped away allowing for detail, shading and textural effects. This paint is fired at 1,100 degrees to a smooth finish.
High Fire Painting
- After trace paint is fired, matte paint is applied. This paint fills in backgrounds and shadows, and its color range is somewhat limited to blacks, blues, browns and greens. It also fires to 1,100 degrees. For red, orange and yellow colors, silver stain, or silver nitrate, is used. This stain changes color during firing. This stain is generally applied on the other side of the glass from trace and matte paints. Oil-based paints for stained glass can also be used. These fire at a lesser temperature.
Low Fire Glass Painting
- Low fire glass painting is relatively new. Products like glass paint markers are just entering the marketplace. There are a number of manufacturers who produce lines of paints and stains that range in features, colors and uses. Acrylic lines of glass paints offer opaque colors. Resin-based paints are transparent and offer opportunities to create frosted and glossy effects. Some products are more durable and intended for the regular use of the finished product. These glass stains can be applied to most glass surfaces. The paints are hardened or fixed by baking in the kitchen oven. Generally, bake time will be something like 40 minutes at 325 degrees. This may vary depending on the manufacturer and exact type of product. Some glass paints are designed to air dry and to be more decorative than functional.
- In addition to glass painting, new products are available to mimic leading. These include adhesive lead, outline pastes and a variety of foil tapes. These products can be applied over the stain/paint work to further the illusion of authenticity. In addition, the foil tapes can be used to join pieces of glass together allowing for even more options. Rubber stamps can be used for design with the enamel glass paints, and stencils will also allow for easy design transfer. One of the attributes of glass painting is that a drawing, design or image can be attached to the back of the glass allowing for a direct transfer to glass painting.