I started glass painting a little over two years ago. The method I employ is the only one I’ve ever used so, I think it might be sensible to say that any comments I make about other methods, are a matter of perception, not experience.
It was an idea of my cousin, Pete Roberts that started things rolling. He’s had an interest in stained glass since leaving school when he became apprenticed to a Master Glass Painter. He thought it would be fun to combine our skills (I’m a signwriter) on a little project, making a few suncatchers.The plan was to use self-adhesive vinyl patterns cut on the vinyl plotter that I use in most of my sign-work nowadays. We cut, weeded and applied the vinyl patterns to the glass, thus bypassing the tedious business of drawing a pattern with outline paste.We then flood-coated the exposed areas with transparent glass paints. It worked beautifully.
When using vinyl patterns to delineate the areas of colour, applying the paint requires a little more care than when using outline paste, because the vinyl is flat and doesn’t ‘dam’ in the same way as I imagine paste does. But, with a bit of planning and the use of wide outlines, colour bleeding can be avoided.
If you don’t trust your own brushwork, it should be possible to pipe some paste along the centre of the vinyl lines to create dams. This could be done far more casually than normal, because, once silhouetted against a strong backlight, the edges of the paste wouldn’t be a visual part of the design.
After leaving the paint to dry thoroughly, a flood coat of varnish or resin will transform the piece. Some deft tooling, as the resin sets, can produce ripples and swirls to give the appearance of Cathedral Glass, but even without tooling it will look good and give off beautiful flashes and flares of light.
I usually finish a piece by applying self-adhesive lead. For the sake of both looks and stability it’s good to solder the joints and link both sides. I prefer the weathered look so abrade the lead with wire wool and wash with Decra-Sheen liquid to blacken it.
Using the vinyl pattern method in its most basic form – just black outlines and plain flood-fills – results should look pretty good from the start, providing the design is sound. However, it is an immensely flexible method with few inherent limitations on size or complexity. The vinyl pattern can be applied weeded (unwanted material removed) or un-weeded in which case it becomes a ready cut mask for airbrushing, half-tone effects or even just simple colour application.
It can also be used as an effective resist mask for surface etching pastes such as Etchall. I plan to really go to town with various matts on my next big piece. I fancy doing a steam shed at night with variations of gloom and steam backlit by the sulphurous glow of fireboxes and yard lamps, in fact, very little colour at all. It could easily be a disaster but it will be fun trying.
You can see more of Arthurs work on his website http://www.buckssigns.co.uk/Glass.html .