Making Painted Suncatchers

Making painted suncatchers

We are holding a series of four classes this year, where we will be making painted suncatchers. These are easy to make and don’t require any experience with painting! We use Gallery Glass paint by Plaid, which dries to a beautiful finish that looks just like stained glass.

Our 2019 theme is Seasons of Flowers. The April class features Daffodils, June features Daisies, August is roses, and November is Poinsettias. Be sure to attend all four so you have a gorgeous collection to showcase in your windows year round!

Some Tips for Creating Lines with Gallery Glass Lead Paint

The most difficult part is adding the painted “lead” borders. This requires a very steady hand, patience, and practice – so for our classes, we do this for you ahead of time (but anyone who wants to come a few days early and practice is welcome to do so!).

I put together a video that has some tips for painting the lead lines…

  • With the bottle upside down and the cap off, tap the tip on a flat surface to ensure all the paint is near the tip
  • Carefully squeeze the bottle until the paint appears. Gently touch it to the starting point.
  • Continue squeezing while you slowly lift the tip about 1/4″ off the glass. A string of paint should flow out, connecting the bottle tip to the starting point.
  • With the bottle 1/4″ above the glass, continue to squeeze so paint flows. Move the bottle over the leading lines like you are drawing in the air. The paint should fall onto the lines.
  • When you are about 1/4″ from the stopping point, stop squeezing and slow down your drawing movement. When the paint stops coming out (but the string of paint is still connected), carefully touch the tip to the stopping point.
  • Start in the upper left corner, and work your way down the project to the lower right corner. This will help prevent any smudging.
  • Straight lines are easiest. Curves are more difficult. Curves that change direction are the hardest. I find it best to draw away from myself or left to right rather than towards myself. Often, if I’m drawing towards myself, the bottle tip obscures my view of the line.
  • Don’t try to do the entire drawing in one motion. Real stained glass has many solder spots where the lead meets. You want to replicate this look by stopping each string of paint where the line meets another line.
  • Don’t make the colored areas too small – keep your lead lines at least 1/2″ apart so the colors you add later have a chance to shine.
  • Let the leading dry at least 24 hours before adding color.

Coloring in the “Glass” Areas

The painting part is the most fun – and the easiest part. I tell my students, “If you can smear paint, you can do this!”

Making painted suncatchers

In my class, I’ll show you how to add the paint to the glass – but it’s not hard. Simply squirt or dab paint into each cell and start combing it towards the lines. Don’t use too much paint – you can always add more – but it’s hard to take paint out.

Because the paint will shrink a bit as it dries, be sure to get it into every tiny nook and cranny. Make sure it’s almost level with the top of the lead lines. Don’t worry about it if you get it on the lines; it will be transparent when it’s dry so you won’t be able to see it.

Some Tips for painting with Gallery Glass Paint

  • Use one color at a time
  • Start in the center and work your way out, turning the glass as you go
  • Add the paint to the middle of each area and comb it towards the lead lines using your combing tool or an orangewood stick
  • For small areas, put a dollop of paint onto another surface (like a ceramic tile) and bring it onto the glass with a combing tool or an orangewood stick
  • Don’t smear the paint quickly. Slower movements will ensure you have fewer air bubbles.
  • Remove air bubbles by first filling in two or three sections. This gives the paint time to settle and the bubbles to rise. Then, using the tip of your comb or stick, gently dab each bubble. If it won’t pop, gently drag the bubble towards the nearest lead line and up onto the lead. Be careful not to drag paint with it – just the bubble. Once on the lead, it should pop.
Gallery Glass Paint Color Key

Remember, the finished, dry paint color will not look like the paint when it’s wet. If you aren’t sure which colors to use, make yourself a paint key on a scrap piece of glass. My bottles are all numbered and match to the numbers on the key.

Advanced Techniques with plaid gallery glass paint

Adding realistic details to your suncatchers

I love adding little details to my suncatchers. Lines on leaves, color blends on flowers, a cloudy sky… all things that are found on high-end, real stained glass.

Also, actual stained glass will often have pieces made from mixtures of colors. You’ll frequently see white pieces with tan swirled in, or clear blue with some opaque areas. Glass working is not an exact science, and I love to replicate those looks. If you attend my suncatcher classes, you’ll learn how to do these advanced techniques!

Fixing lead line mistakes

A lot of people try making painted glass and give up because the lead lining is too difficult. But don’t despair! If you’re able to trace an outline in a semi-reasonable way, all you need to do is practice more. And you don’t need to throw away your practice pieces – here is a quick and easy way to fix smudges, extra drops, overly thick lines, and total goofs.

Want to learn more? Come to a class! We have monthly classes here at the boutique, taught by various artists. Check out our Events page to find out what’s coming up.

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