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Glass painting is an excellent skill to learn, whether you’re looking to create some DIY home décor, want something fun to do with your kids, or are just interested in expanding your artistic repertoire.
With a little guidance and practice, you should have no trouble mastering the art of glass painting. And we’re here to help, with plenty of tips and advice to get you started, including answers to some of the most common questions about painting on glass windows, jars, vases, and more.
Glass holds up to paint extremely well, but you’ll need to have the right supplies on hand to ensure that you get the results you’re looking for. Here’s what to grab.
As far as what kind of paint will stick to glass, you have a few different options to choose from, most of them formulated with an acrylic base.
- Acrylic enamel paint: This might seem like an oxymoron since acrylic paint is water-based and enamel paint is oil-based, but it’s actually more of a best of both worlds situation. Acrylic enamel paints bond to a wide variety of surfaces—glass included—and form a hard shell that helps ensure your color stays in place.
- Acrylic glass paint: This type of glass paint is purely acrylic-based, but it’s different from your standard acrylics, which don’t readily adhere to the smooth surface of glass. Look for acrylics that are specifically intended for glass and tile, since these have chemical additives that allow the acrylic base to stick to a non-porous surface.
- Solvent-based paint: A fancier name for oil-based paint, this type of paint contains high levels of organic compounds that bind to glass better than their traditional water-based counterparts. You’ll get a super-saturated color with solvent-based paint, but keep in mind that these paints are more toxic (and much harder to clean) than acrylics.
- Glass painting markers and pens: These are a fantastic option if you’re looking for an easy medium to work with, and especially if you’re glass painting with kids. Choose from pens and markers in a variety of colors and tip sizes, and skip the work of having to clean brushes when you’re done. (Psst: want your painting on glass windows permanent? Use oil-based paint markers for added longevity.)
What type of glass paint you use will depend on a few different factors. Markers, for example, are great for fine detailing, but not so great for the type of surface coverage that you might want if you’re painting on glass jars or vases. Meanwhile, solvent-based paints can produce stunning results, but they’re not ideal if you’re glass painting with little ones or somewhere where you don’t have great ventilation.
Other Glass Painting Materials
Aside from glass paint, you’ll need a few other things as well, including:
- Paint brushes: The best types of brushes for glass painting are soft-bristled and pliable varieties like acrylic or watercolor brushes. Foam brushes in a variety of sizes and angles are also good to have on hand.
- Applicator sponges: In addition to brushes, you may choose to use sponges as well to apply paint to glass. This provides you with a different visual texture, though you’ll still want to use brushes for achieving complete coverage.
If you really want to mix it up, you can use additional applicator tools from around your home, including toothpicks, cotton swabs, and cotton balls, all of which will vary your final look.
Other things to have at the ready include latex gloves (if you’re using solvent-based paints) and clean microfiber cloths for fixing any mistakes as you go.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to figure out what you actually want to paint. Here are eight glass painting project ideas to get you inspired.
1. Painting on Wine Bottles
Why toss old wine bottles in the recycling bin when you can recycle them for your home instead? In her glass painting class, Skillshare instructor and textile artist Rekha Krishnamurthi demonstrates how to transform wine bottles with a little bit of paint and a whole lot of imagination.
2. Painting on Wine Glasses
Speaking of wine, go ahead and pretty up some boring old wine glasses by turning them into hand-painted masterpieces. We guarantee they’ll be a hit at your next dinner party.
3. Painting on Glass Windows
A little bit of paint can put your home’s interior in a whole new light. As for how to paint on glass window panels, we recommend going with either a non-permanent paint or opting for a standalone panel like this one, which gives you the same breathtaking look that won’t be a pain to remove if you go to sell later on.
4. Painting on Glass Jars
For an expert introduction to glass painting, check out Skillshare instructor Kasia Banasiak’s See Through Your Art class, which shows, among other things, how to bring this stunningly transparent look to glass jars. These work great as decorative accents around your home, particularly when it comes to displaying plants and flowers.
5. Painting on Glass Ornaments
For the perfect holiday activity, try out this glass ornament painting technique shared by Skillshare instructor Windy Iris. These are wonderful for use as part of your own holiday décor, and also make fantastic gifts.
6. Painting on Glass Coasters
As far as other gift ideas go, why not take a cue from these gorgeous painted glass coasters and create some of your own? Pair them with a bottle of wine for a housewarming gift, or design a set to match the rest of your own coffee table décor.
7. Painting on Glass Vases
Paint can lend an ultra-special (and ultra-original) touch to any glass vase. Head to the dollar store for a huge selection of low-cost glass vase varieties and see what you can come up with.
8. Painting on Glass Pendants
Create one-of-a-kind glass jewelry by using paint to update a previously understated glass pendant. It’s an endlessly customizable way to make jewelry at home, and with such a small surface it’s also a great way to practice detailing.
Quick answers to some of the most common questions about glass painting.
Can Normal Paint Be Used on Glass?
Not quite. While you don’t need to mix up anything special yourself, stick to paints that are uniquely formulated for glass, since these are designed to adhere to its smooth and non-porous surface.
Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Glass?
You bet! Just stick to acrylic-enamel paints or acrylics that have been modified for glass and tile. As for how to make acrylic paint stay on glass, so long as you’ve used the right type of acrylic you won’t have to worry about how to seal acrylic paint on glass—it’s already formulated to stick—though an added coat of sealant helps too.
How Do You Paint Glass With Acrylic?
It’s simple. Start by prepping your surface to remove any lingering dust, then paint, daub, or stencil on your acrylic enamel or acrylic glass paint as desired.
Will Acrylic Paint Wash Off Glass?
Yes. Use a rag dipped in warm water to soften the paint, then gently scrape it away using an old credit card. (A putty knife will work too, just be careful not to scratch the glass.)
How Do You Make Paint Stay on Glass?
Knowing how to seal paint on glass is just as important as using the right supplies. If you want your paint to last for the long term, use a permanent variety of paint or coat your finished piece with sealant. Go with a gloss finish instead of matte, since this will provide you with a better finished look.
What is Reverse Painting on Glass?
Reverse painting on glass is an art technique where paint is applied to the back side of a piece of glass and then turned over for proper viewing. It was first popularized by French artist Jean-Baptiste Glomy in the mid- to late-1700s.
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