Are Glassline Paints for You?

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!