Products and tips for painting on glass with stencils

SayWhat? and conventional stencils work exceptionally well on glass, porcelain, and similar surfaces, but these materials have their own special needs. Here’s a few products and tips which can help.

If you’re painting on the inside of a window or pane of glass to look outward, make sure to let us know as we can easily cut the lettering reversed.

If you plan on applying paint thick and opaque, when you remove the stencil lifting can occur; the paint as it dries can stick  to the stencil, and since most finishes adhere fairly lightly to glass, part of or the entire painted area can come up when you pull off the stencil. To minimize this you can either score the edge of the openings with a razor craft knife, and/or remove the stencil by pulling the material away from the painted area almost parallel to the surface.

Temporary applications or surfaces that won't be disturbed.

  • You can use ordinary acrylic paints (Americana, Delta etc.) by themselves, but if you first apply Jo Sonja’s All Purpose Sealer basecoat, followed by the acrylic paints, the application will hold up much better. However the paint may come off even with light cleaning or exposure to moisture.
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Semi-permanent Applications-  Using one of the products below will improve adherance in areas that do not require a great deal of cleaning. Will take light wiping, but scratches when scrubbed.  Use for bathroom mirrors or window glass.  May be removed with razor blade.

  • Jo Sonja’s Artist Colors with their glass and tile primer and medium added to most acrylics.
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Heat Set Permanent Applications - Bake on products allow a more permanent application but your piece must fit in conventional oven. These will be glossy in appearance. Great for decorative glassware and ceramics. These products may discolor or frost the surface, so use with care and only if you plan on permanence.

  • Pebeo makes two types of paint for glass and ceramics.  One is an air-dry product, and they also offer a heat-set product. 
    More information:

  • If you have ceramic tile that is not yet installed, you can fire it in a kiln and special glazes are required; check with local artists or schools for availability in your area.  Be sure and test the color and permanence before undertaking a major project, as results will vary depending on glazes already on the tiles.
    More information: Duncan E-Z Stroke

Cold Permanent Applications where size or location prevents heat setting or where a matte appearance is desired: 

  • Before painting, the glass may be chemically etched with B&B Etchall Crème (or equivalent). This will give a glossy surface some “tooth” to hold paint.  This will permanently frost, discolor or mar the surface, so great care must be taken when applying.  A resist product is also available which may be useful to protect adjacent areas when hand painting

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Disclaimer: The Mad Stencilist offers these instructions as a guide only and is not responsible for the results or any damages. We highly suggest testing out any paint projects using scrap material first, or in an inconspicuous place. Never serve food from self-painted dishware.