How to Paint on Glass – The Ultimate Crafter’s Guide


If you are looking to paint on glass for any reasons that involve decorations, you’ve come to the right place! Things like suncatchers are a good example. Painted on glass can look really stunning when done right. It all starts with the right kinds of paints and then the kind of project you ‘re working on and what your goals are with that project.

Do you want to transform the look of an everyday object, like a glass vase? Or do you want to dream up a real unique conversation piece but not sure where to get started? That’s OK! I’ve been in both scenarios and I can walk you through it.

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how to paint on glass

Type of Paint Needed

First let’s look at the types of paints you;ll need. Did you ever get exposed to some of those “stained glass look suncatchers” kits when you were growing up?  They’d have a pre-made transparent design, a set of paints and a brush, you’d apply the paint to each of the sections in it and let it dry and when it did you’d have something pretty to hang in the window.

Although exactly what kind of paints those were is hard to recall, I remember them being in little “pots” and having an opaque look to them, When they dried they’d look translucent. Most likely they were enamel paints. Well that’s the kind of paints you ‘ll need to use. I found that out when shopping.

Next to my favorite craft acrylics , I also found the same brand also carries enamel versions made especially for glass. They not only come in lots of pretty colors, but they also come in various effects like pearlescent or frosted look so you can get some nice special effects too.

which paint to use on glass

Here are some other paints I found in my collection, stores no longer carry this brand (Delta PermEnamels) but I thought I would experiment with them a little to see what I thought of them. I also had a bottle of clear liquid that is made to be applied first before painting.

It’s a two step process – you apply the clear liquid first (I’m unsure exactly what it is, but when you unscrew the cap and take a whiff, what emanates is a lot like nail polish remover – acetone, if you will) and then apply the paint.

I used an Apple Green color for this cute little yogurt jar as you can see here…

enamel painting on glass

You won’t have to do that with the Folk Art brand, fortunately. But it will help if you go over the outside with a little rubbing alcohol first.

Here are some of those lovely gloss enamel paints right here…there are vivid and bright colors as well as more conservative and neutral.

DecoArt DASK267 Americana Gloss Enamels Sample PackDecoArt DASK267 Americana Gloss Enamels Sample PackDecoArt DASK267 Americana Gloss Enamels Sample PackFolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft SetFolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft SetFolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft SetFolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft Set of 16 ColorsFolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft Set of 16 ColorsFolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft Set of 16 Colors

A Word About Brushes…

Brushes aren’t always your best friend when painting on glass – one, they leave unsightly marks behind since enamel acrylic paint is transparent meaning they’ll definitely show. When you do use yours, do so sparingly – and always lead with the tip, or “toe” of the bristles.

Even back in the day when I was painting suncatchers, I used a toothpick for very small areas to distribute the paint. For slightly larger areas, you might consider an eyedropper…the key is not to “brush” the paint around, but “spread it out” evenly. Sometimes air bubbles may show up, if you have a toothpick nearby you can pop them with it.

Freehand Technique

Once you’ve got your paints, now on to the type of painting applications. We’ll use this older project of mine here as an example of a freehand approach. This is a lamp I made form a wine bottle that I embellished on the front with a picture of a rose and a yellow butterfly. Yes, I also added a little bling to it too.

painting on glass how to

I used a Sharpie marker to draw the outline on the bottle and then painted on the colors and details. If you’re especially talented with drawing you could do something like that. Or better yet you could use a stencil to get a more precise pattern for your proposed design.

You may have to do a little research for some designs if you need inspiration, a little online search for something like “outline” or template (that you can download for free, by the way) may be all you need to do.

As far as the glass objects, you could paint on bottles, votive jars that once held small candles), wine or champagne glasses, fruit jars…the possibilities are endless! How intricate or detailed the design you can choose may depend on the contours of the object, of course.

painting on glass examples
Some lovely examples of painted glass, and the kinds of designs you can do!

Color Fill

What if what you are looking to do is not to actually design or paint something per se, but to give it a different color? Here is something else I did – This started out as a cocktail mixer bottle in the shape of a shoe that I later transformed into a vase. After washing it out I filled it with some enamel paint and then proceeded to distribute it into the bottle.

(That’s my cat, Buddy, in the sink, I know, I know…he loves stealing my thunder.)

glass tinted shoe

If you choose an object that you want to paint from the inside in this manner, you’d probably do best if you have one that is more “linear”…a sexy stiletto like this had so many contours in it that it probably took an hour or longer to do it right. (Ask me how I know!)

\With all those curves, it took a little bit of skill to make sure the paint was evenly spread out and there were no clumps or uncolored areas. I finally turned it upside down and sideways to be sure the coverage was exactly as it should be.

The main reason to do this is to avoid brush marks that may show up, so take the time to do this and you’ll be glad you did.

Follow this approach for best results…

  1. Dispense a small amount of paint into the object
  2.  Slowly move the paint around the inside, you may need to roll it or turn it sideways depending on the shape of the object.
  3. After a moment, check to see that all sides and corners of the object are coated in paint and there are no bare spots showing.
  4.  Tip object upside down to allow for any unused paint to drip out without running back down on the inside. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours.

Some Final Thoughts…

Another thing you may want to do if you are painting designs freehand, is to make use of some markers as well to create good, sharp outlines. You can use a basic Sharpie which is a good idea since they are permanent, or the kind of markers that you shake up (they are usually oil-based, but more likely to remain permanent.)

acrylics to paint on glass


Hope these strategies help, this is how I learned about painting on glass, now you can learn too!




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