Glass Painting


Copyright © 1996-2018  Geoffrey Wallace Stained Glass


Vitreous glass paint is a compound of ferrous oxide and fluxes mixed with a liquid medium such as water, oil, vinegar or any of a score of other mediums depending on the desired effect. It is applied by hand, using various brushes, to the interior surface of the glass and fired in a kiln to fuse it with the glass surface. Opaque black or brown in colour, glass paint is the traditional material of stained glass artists and provides all the detail we observe in a window: faces, drapery, decorative borders, etc.  Contrary to common belief, the glass is not ‘coloured’ through painting as the various colours are provided by the pot glass that is cut to make up the design.

Once the glass has been cut the various pieces are set out in position and fixed to a light easel before the process of painting begins.  Glass paint is applied in separate stages to slowly build up the required tonal density, with a kiln firing required at each stage to ‘fix’ the paint to the glass.  The first stage is usually the application of the line work which is applied with fine ox hair tracing brushes.  After the lines have been fired the matting begins which is the process of applying a semi-opaque wash to the glass and blending or stippling with a badger blender. 

The unfired glass paint is quite soft and areas of the matte are easily removed, lightened, highlighted or blended to create the desired tonal qualities within the window. This process of removing the dark areas of matte is known as ‘painting with light’.  Traditional glass painting usually requires a minimum of two applications of matte but this can often increase to six or more in particular areas such as faces and intricate drapery.

Raw glass, cut to shape.

Painted trace lines.

First matte.

Second matte.

Third matte.

Finished window after staining.

Painting the trace lines.

Applying the matte.

Blending the matte.

Painting with light.

Highlighting with quill.