If you're new to painting on glass, you're probably bewildered about what brand of fusible glass paints to get. Here at my Glass Art Tools website, I carry several different lines of paints, chalks, powders, and enamels. So what's right for you?
One way to find out is to contact an artist whose work has a palette you find especially attractive, then contact them via their website or FB page to find out what they use. Another popular method is to take a class--a hands-on way of experimenting with a line of paints your teacher uses. A third approach is to read up, then purchase a few basic colors and do your own testing. That's why I've packed the introduction to each color collection on the Glass Art Tools website with information about how each type of color is applied and fused.
In this blog, I want to share with you my own experience in using Glassline Paints. I've done a lot of experimentation with these colors, and I've found that they're quite versatile. Here are some of the things I like about them:
They don't require you to purchase special medium; instead, they thin with water
(I use distilled). They also work on all types and COEs of glass.
They can be applied in a variety of ways:
--thinned with water and sprayed with an airbrush
--squirted from their bottle top, with finer lines possible using optional tips
--spread with a palette knife or silicone spatula
--partially dried and then carved through, scraped, or textured
using Colour Shapers, chopsticks, or decorative palette knives
--brushed on as a wash, texture-fused, and brushed again with the same color to deepen its intensity, or with a different color to create shadows and blends
--mixed with glass powders and gel and applied as a paste
Glassline colors can be applied to either polished or sandblasted glass, and after they dry, you can experiment by sprinkling glass powders over them, and full-fusing.
They can be tack-fused (at temps around 1300 degrees F), resulting in
a pastel, matte surface
They can be full-fused, resulting in deeper, richer colors and a glossy
surface that becomes part of your glass.
They seem to stand up to repeated fusing events without degrading.
There are some cons to Glassline paints. One is not serious, just annoying: Over months, the paint requires that you add little bits of water to the bottle and then shake like crazy to get it to a working consistency.
The MAIN drawback design-wise is that getting the best, richest color out of these paints requires a full fuse. So if you're only working at lower temperatures and desire jewel tones instead of matte pastels, these might not be the paints for you. Also, it means that if you are planning a texture fuse, a slump, or tacking on accessory glasses, you have to plan carefully to get the painted part of your piece full-fused first, and do the lower-temperature work after the full fuse has been completed. There are ways around this, such as creating "part sheets" with your painted images or patterns ahead of time, then cutting, shaping, and attaching them to a larger piece later using a tack fuse.
While Glassline Paints aren't like acrylics in that they can be mixed with abandon to produce totally predictable blends, you can mix them. I suggest pulling out a 10 x 10" sheet of white opal and placing daubs of mixed colors on it so that you have a color reference (just don't forget to make up a written guide to what colors/proportions are in each daub before firing). Again, these paints will tend to fuse towards the darker end of the spectrum, so in mixing, I suggest creating pastel tones initially--they'll look darker after firing. A few basic colors, plus black and white, might provide enough to play with, to see if they're for you. Get them from Glass Art Tools and save.
The brand that is closest to Glassline in terms of a broad range of hues and similar firing ranges are Colors for Earth, available on the Glass Art Tools website. If you've seen Mark Hufford's work on Facebook or visited the Colors for Earth website, you'll be impressed by the painterly imagery that can be captured with this brand. Plus, CFE has wonderful educational opportunities for people who use their enamel powders. The only drawback from my own user experience is that the colors must be applied to glass in "puddles" to achieve their full potential in fusing. From that viewpoint, Glassline paints are more versatile.
The other color set that has a wonderful selection of colors is Thompson Enamels. I carry a sample set of their non-toxic, fusible colors on the Glass Art Tools website. But these are enamel powders, and to my knowledge, they're designed to be applied in powder form, so if you're not familiar with how to do that, taking an enameling class might be a good idea.
I hope this overview has helped...Please feel free to comment with your own experience in what you've learned, which in turn will help others. Good luck and have fun!
Who doesn't love the beach? The sand, the waves, the myriad hues of water and sky from dawn til sunset--those are pretty awesome colors.
And that's what Glassline's new color set, called "Beach," is supposed to be about. But how do they look after fusing? And how do these new colors compare with those already in Glassline's fusible paint collection? This blog post is my way of trying to help you figure that out.
First, I'll describe verbally how each color appears after a full fuse. Then I'll show you photos of samples that I fused of warm and cool colors, both old and new, and I'll compare them for you to see. Last, I'm posting a full sample set of "fused swatches" so you can see everything in the Beach set all at once.
Here's the list of Beach colors, and how they appear after a full-fuse:
Next, I picked similar colors and full-fused them on the top surface of two layers of glass, white opal over clear. For color accuracy, I took these photos in bright, full sunlight so you can easily evaluate the new vs. older related hues:
A. Aqua vs. Aegean vs. Teal vs. Marine
Aqua and Aegean are extremely similar. If you've mixed acrylics or watercolors, the only difference is that the Aqua is slightly lighter, not like a pastel, but more like if you added a bit more water to an acrylic color. The Aegean is a deeper tone.
Teal (an original color) is quite a lot deeper, with more green than Aegean.
Marine is a different hue altogether, bluer than the other three. It is a luscious color which reminds me of deep water ocean colors off the coast of Hawaii.
B. Turquoise vs. Blue Ice vs. Mist
These are all pretty pastel colors, even when full-fused. Turquoise reads to my eye like a sky blue, more blue-blue than the other two. The two new colors are different:
Blue Ice tends more towards a soft, dusky aqua.
Mist is what I think would be a versatile blue-grey.
C. Summer Sun vs. Celadon vs. Light Green
Light Green, an original color, is a nice, medium Spring Green, while by comparison Celadon is more of a wash of an olive green with a hint of blue.
Summer Sun is a cool bright yellow, a must-have if you want bright color.
D.Warm Earth Colors
Left Sample: Peach doesn't read "fruit" as much as it does "skin," and would probably be my suggestion for artists who paint people. I suggest using white or black to lighten or darken it. The Orange, an original color, is pure, bright orange.
Right Sample: All of these warm-tone colors are pretty, and useful for earth tones, landscapes, and skin colors. Sand (new) and Sesame (original) are slightly pinker, so they might be good for creating flesh tones. (Peach seems to have the most pink, though). Butterscotch is a lovely dark gold. Sand comes across as the lightest, while Butterscotch and Sesame are more intense values.
E. The Reds
I've loved Glassline's Red Orange for years. It's lush, bright, and vibrant, and it doesn't poop out or get oxidized during firing (no need to crack open your kiln!). Deep Red is a darker, but still intense shade, while Coral is much more of a red wine hue. All of these reds really "pop" over black glass. The pastel Pink is an original color, while Dusty Rose reads as more muted than the others. For me, Glassline's reds are pretty unparalleled, and now you have even more red-related options.
Finally, here's a photo of the full set of Beach Color Swatches, again, shot in brilliant sunlight. A key to the names appears below the photo.
Key to the colors:
Double row A, left to right: Sand Butterscotch Peach Coral
Double row B, left to right: Dusty Rose Summer Sun Blue Ice Celadon
Double row C, left to right: Mist Aqua Aegean Marine
In summary, there are some lovely colors in this set, including some that would do well if you're looking for something for shadows (Mist) or flesh tones (Peach and/or Sand). And I'm already eyeing some of the bolder, intense colors as good candidates for mixing. However, some of the new colors are very similar to original ones, so you might want to use these photos to help you pick just the really unusual colors that resemble nothing else in your arsenal. However, if you're one of those people who want the full set so you don't miss out on anything, I'm offering the Beach set at a nice discount, which includes all 12 Beach colors plus bottles of Black and White, as well as a free tip set as a bonus. Find any and all on our second and third Glassline Paints pages. Oh, and please let me know if you found this analysis helpful. Thanks!
I wanted to share with you a fantastic new use that I've discovered for the fusible acrylic tape that I sell on the Glass Art Tools website.
Recently, I've been producing thicker fused pieces out of multiple layers of glass.
However, as as all fusers know, molten glass will want to "pool out" to an even 6mm thickness unless it's contained within restraints or "dams" during fusing.
Whenever you use a dam--such as those made of firebrick, ceramic (such as mullite/cordierite), or even metal, you have to line the dam with a material that molten glass won't stick to. The traditional resist material has been fiber cloth, also known as kiln cloth or fiber blanket. This material has a consistency similar to felt, and comes in varying thicknesses.
Unfortunately, traditional kiln cloth has a couple of drawbacks. One is that you have to run it through the kiln separately first, to burn off the binders. Then you can use it with your glass. This is an extra step that ties up both your kiln and your time.
The other drawback is that if the cloth stands higher than the pile of glass next to it, the top layer of glass will tend to "stick" to the cloth, forming a ragged edge (shown below) that has to be ground off and either cold-polished or fire-polished with another run through the kiln. This is a lot of extra work.
I try to avoid extra work whenever possible, so I came up with the idea of using regular
kiln shelf paper instead of kiln cloth. I attach the paper to my ceramic dams using our fusible double-sided acrylic tape:
I use ceramic dams to hold in my glass, and cut the kiln shelf paper (I use Bullseye Thinfire Shelf Paper, but you can use any fusible shelf paper) so that it would fit around three sides of the dam. (If you're planning to put glass on the outside of the dam, you could of course cover all four sides.) Make sure the paper lines up with the far edge of the dam, unless you want to cover the edge. In that case, you can create a "tab" that is folded over the edge and taped in back.
I then cut three little pieces of the Fusible Acrylic Tape and put them along each narrow side of the ceramic dam, as shown in the photo above. The tape will stick to the ceramic as well as the paper, and will burn off in the kiln, so it's perfect to use.
Fold the kiln paper into a crisply scored line along the edge, and then press dam and paper together. Fit the paper as tightly as you can (without tearing it) around the dam and tape it to the other side. Here you can see one side taped:
Below is a photo of the dam setup I used to create a three-layer (9-mm) thick fused glass cross-brace (two layers of clear glass and one layer of opaque black). In the lower right corner, outside the X, is the place where I used traditional kiln cloth to fuse a 3-layer square component, whose ragged edge is visible in the first photo in this article.
The result, after a very slow full-fuse with a prolonged anneal and cool-down sequence, is lovely and precise. Below is a closeup of the fused edge (two layers of clear glass and a top layer of black) which was formed next to the paper-wrapped ceramic dam. This is exactly how the glass looked coming out of the kiln. It will be used as a structural piece, so it needs no further work. Note the pretty, semi-polished surface texture.
Below is another shot of the finished piece. Clearly, the use of kiln shelf paper wrapped around each dam and attached with our acrylic fusing tape:
Some additional tips:
--Before firing, be sure to look carefully along the inside walls of the dams to make sure no ceramic is exposed to the glass. If you've missed a spot, just cut, fold, and tuck in an extra piece of kiln shelf paper where needed.
--Before you close the kiln door, make sure your glass is perfectly in place, and gently squeeze together the opposing walls to make sure they are flush against the glass.
--This setup shows 3 layers of glass. When fusing more layers, place a firebrick outside each dam to hold it in place.
--Always experiment to make sure this technique works in your specific kiln, and for your specific application.
I've just returned from an intensive five-day workshop taught by Kari Minnick at the Bullseye glass studio in Santa Fe New Mexico. This workshop focused on a variety of techniques that will have a huge impact in my own work. (The photo above shows one of my pieces from the class). This all has led me to think about the value of taking art classes and workshops.
Signing up for an art-related workshop is a calculated risk: You hope that what you're going to learn will be worth the registration fee (which, for many of these workshops, can be quite expensive), the loss of time taken from your own studio, and any travel costs, from airfare to hotels, to meals, that you'll have to invest. (However, if you've started a business around your art and have a tax ID, all of these costs are deductible at tax time.)
Due to the explosion in popularity of working with glass, there’s a dizzying array of workshops available across the country and even abroad. It seems that every glass shop offers beginning classes, while many community colleges, universities and even neighborhood recreation centers offer classes in stained glass, glass fusing, lampworked beads, even glass blowing. If you live in a city with a thriving art center, you'll probably be able to find classes through that organization. For those willing to travel, the Glass Craft and Bead Expo held annually in Las Vegas offers literally dozens of courses, while manufacturers such as Bullseye Glass sponsor classes in both their home base of Portland and in satellite stores, such as those found in Pasadena, Santa Fe, and New York. If you’re planning a vacation, a Google search of glass classes in that location might turn up a bonus to your trip.
Assuming that you have a limited time and budget, how do you choose the class that's best for you? Here are some thoughts that I came up with that might help:
a) If you're just idly shopping around for something to do, then it's certainly worthwhile to give anything a try. But if you are looking to build your skills in a particular area, it's best to select a class that expands knowledge you already have. In other words, if you're a painter and think that it might be fun to take a glass fusing class, you can certainly take an advanced class but you won't get as much out of it because you don't already have the basic knowledge in glass that will allow you to fully understand the technical aspects of what's being taught. In my opinion, it would be better to take an introductory class so that you can appreciate how to work with the medium, and after that, take a more advanced or specialized class.
b) Most art and craft-related classes fall into one of the following categories:
• new or specialized techniques
• how to use new materials, equipment or tools
• specialty subtopics or projects
• skill building
• stylistic development or expansion
• Master class with a Master Artist
• workshop with local tours
Finding what's right for you depends on where you want to go with your art. If you're in the early stages of your learning, classes that help you build your skills to make your work look more professional might be what you're after. If however you have a good solid foundation, you might be interested in expanding your repertoire and learn new techniques or styles. Art pieces that combine more than one technique tend to stand out in a gallery situation.
c) Last but not least, there's the consideration of who's teaching the class. Taking a class from an established artist may sound exciting in theory, but make sure that you resonate with their work by visiting their website or Facebook page before you sign up. It also doesn't hurt to call the sponsoring organization and ask about that teacher, to see what the feedback has been from other students. Some teachers love to interact with their students during and after class, which would provide you with plenty of opportunity for you to show them your work and ask for their comments. Other teachers might be less social, but the course content might make up for that. Before you sign up, be sure to read the course description and if possible, the course outline or syllabus, to make sure that you know exactly what's going to be covered and whether it’s right for you.
In addition to these points, there is the intangible set of benefits that you get simply from being in the same room and rubbing shoulders with your instructor and fellow students. Sometimes just watching them work provides you with insights and ideas to improve your own techniques and processes. Often a special energy emerges when the teacher and members of the class are sharing in the excitement of making new and wonderful things. And, one last suggestion: Don't be afraid to go to lunch or dinner with your class members: It’s a great way to learn about one another and possibly launch friendships or mentorships that will enrich both your life and your career.