How to paint glass

Glass painting is inexpensive, easy and fun. You can use stencilling and stamping techniques to liven up any glassware - experiment with jam jars, milk bottles, water glasses and vases to make some distinctive accessories for your home.

Time to complete job: Approximately one hour, plus drying time.
Approximate budget: Under £4 for a small jar of glass paint.

How to paint glass

You will need:

  • Glass item to be painted
  • Glass paint mixed with white, or ceramic paint
  • Pencil
  • Tracing paper
  • Tape
  • Sticky-backed plastic
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Stencil brush

Tip: Both oil-based and water-based glass paints are available - just be careful never to mix the two. Mix your coloured glass paint with white to make it more opaque for dramatic stencilling effects - alternatively, a ceramic paint would also work well.

First steps
Always wash and dry your glass object carefully to degrease it before adding any paint effects.

If your glassware is badly stained, try leaving it to steep in denture cleaner dissolved in hot water for a few hours.

Most painted glassware can be hand washed in warm soapy water, but leave your newly-painted items to dry thoroughly for at least a week before washing them for the first time.

  • Step 1: Stencilling

    Step 1: Stencilling

    Cut out your design Draw your desired design on a piece of tracing paper with a soft pencil. Tape the tracing paper to the back of a sheet of sticky-backed plastic and retrace to copy the image.

    To make your stencil, cut out the image from the sticky-backed plastic with a craft knife on a cutting mat or board.

  • Step 2: Fixing the stencil

    Step 2: Fixing the stencil

    Place the stencil on your glass item and slowly peel away the paper back of the sticky-backed plastic until the stencil is firmly stuck to the glass.

    Smooth away any air bubbles to make sure the edges are firm.

  • Step 3: Applying the paint

    Step 3: Applying the paint

    Place a small amount of your paint on an old plate.

    Dab your stencilling brush into the paint to transfer a small amount to the brush and, holding the brush upright, apply lightly to the holes in the stencil. Move your brush in small circles to get the best transfer of colour.

    Leave to dry then peel off the stencil. Make sure it's dry before applying any other colours on top.

    Tip: If you're stencilling a large area, use a flat paintbrush instead of a stencilling brush to paint the area efficiently.

  • Step 4: Reverse stencilling

    Step 4: Reverse stencilling

    You can create interesting effects by using reverse stencilling - when you apply the paint to the area around the stencil instead of inside it.

    Cut out your design from sticky-backed plastic as above and stick to your glassware.

    Paint over the stencil and the rest of the glass to be covered with your paint and leave to dry.

    Carefully peel off the stencil to leave the unpainted glass area underneath.

    Tip: Use a sponge instead of a paintbrush to apply the paint and create a lighter effect. Always dampen the sponge before dipping it in the paint and clean immediately afterwards.

  • Step 5: Stamping

    Step 5: Stamping

    Another quick an easy glass effect is to make your own stamp design and stamp your glassware with decorative colours.

    Cut out your desired design from a synthetic sponge with a craft knife - kitchen sponges work well. Glue a piece of cardboard to the back of the sponge shape.

    Dip the sponge in paint dabbed on an old plate and press firmly onto your glassware. Reapply more paint before stamping again.

    Let dry.