Over the years, I have received a lot of questions asking what is the best paint for glass, ceramics and metal. It’s a popular question because there are so many paints out there that just don’t really work, stick or look all that great. Many of the specialty glass/ceramic paints are either too translucent or streak. Usually when I hear from people, they have already tried several products and were unhappy with the result.
I thought today I would answer that question by sharing an easy DIY gift idea as an example of the paints that I have used for years because it’s absolutely amazing. As you read this post, keep in mind that you can use these paints and the technique I’m showing you on virtually anything and it will stick, last forever and look gorgeous!
As we head into the holidays, if you want to paint wine glasses, ornaments, mugs or even metal signs this paint will not let you down like everything else out there. Just look at the this paint finish:
For today’s project, I just painted some colorful small square plates from Target here for fun gifts for my girlfriends to use as a ring/jewelry tray of on their desks for paper clips and other supplies. I’m also sharing a little trick for getting those pretty paint swipes for that you can do on any type of paint project.
The paint that I have used for years for glass/ceramics is an enamel (oil-based) made to use on model cars and model airplanes, which is why the finish is so beautiful. It’s available at every craft store in the model car/airplane supply section of your local craft store or you can order it here on Amazon. It’s called Testor’s paint:
Testor’s and Model Masters are the same company and the Model Masters is just a bigger bottle. The Testor’s are glass bottles that are really small and inexpensive ($2.99) and they are the perfect amount for projects like this. Because these paints are made for model cars, they are extremely durable and the finish is very opaque and stunning. Their color selection is awesome and you can always mix colors too in a small disposable cup (like a Dixie Cup) if they do not have the color you’re looking for.
**Here is the one thing you need to know about all enamel paints- they have to dry and cure for at least 5-7 days. While the paint may be dried to the touch, all oil based enamels have to fully cure otherwise, the paint will just scratch right off. You do not have to “bake” these paints like other ceramic/glass paints, you just need to wait until the cure.
You’ll also want to pick up a larger bottle of the Testor’s enamel thinner and brush cleaner because you cannot clean up these paints and paint mistakes with water, you’ll need a jar of paint thinner. Trust me, you’ll also need this thinner to get this paint off your hands because nothing else will work
Anytime you are going to paint glass, ceramics or metal with enamel paints, you’ll need to wipe the area you’re going to paint well with alcohol. Enamel paint will not firmly adhere to any surfaces that may have any kind of residue from natural oils from our hands to waxes and other surface residue. Once you wipe the area, it will need to completely dry.
You will need to have a paint brush or a set of brushes in different sizes that say that they can be used for enamels/stains or oil-based paints. I love to use this 3 pc. filbert set from Royal Crafters for this type of project.
It makes such a difference in the type of brush you use for painting these types of projects and filbert brushes work the best for enamels and the paint goes on extra smooth with them.
Once I have wiped the plate with alcohol, I go ahead and paint my first paint swipe. The trick to painting a beautiful paint swipe is to use an arched brush that the brush tip is rounded and not blunt across or straight. Then load your brush generously but not dripping and swipe to the right first and then pick up your brush and come in about a half inch (so you don’t mess up your right brush marks) and swipe to the left. You want the brush marks to look messy and sort of trailing off like this:
I recommend practicing this on paper or poster board first.
You will need to let your first paint swipe or first layer dry about an hour until you go over your paint with another layer. You can speed it up by putting a fan on it. You will need to do this for every layer otherwise, your layers will smudge.
For painting circle swipes, you will want to use another smaller arched brush and load the brush with a lot of paint but not dripping and swipe fast in a circular motion. You may run out of paint and just load it again and start another circle like I did below:
Again, you’ll want to practice this first on paper or poster board. Paint swiping is meant to look messy, so if you just go fast, you can’t really mess up a meant to be messy swipe 🙂 If you feel that you have made a mistake, you can either wipe it off with paint thinner or wait until the layer dries and go over it with a new swipe.
The painting possibilities are endless no matter what you’re painting on. You can also use stencil designs or just free style with paint splatters using disposal gloves and flicking paint (oh yea!!) and drizzling the paint from the brush:
or you can make a pretty animal print pattern (dry in between color layers so your layers do not smudge):
Again, you’ll want to put your painted pieces in area to dry and cure for at least 5-7 days. I know it’s a long time but you’ll see in the end results, it’s so worth it and the finish is amazing!
**As a side note, these paints cannot be used on dishes that will have food. You certainly could paint the outside of a wine glass or bowl but they are not food safe for areas where food would be touching.
Testor’s makes these great promotional kits with multiple starter colors in them. If you’re going to buying several basic colors, it’s a lot cheaper to buy the promotional kits here.
I mixed Testor’s Magenta and Hot Pink 50/50 for my pretty pink in the images above because, for some reason, the Magenta translucent. The Hot Pink is not. The Magenta is the only color I have seen with Testor’s that is translucent. It must have something to do with model cars.
Warning, Testor’s also makes acrylic paint that looks exactly the same. Be sure and read the bottle to make sure it says “enamel”.
You’ll want to have very small disposable cups on hand. I pick up little dixie cups or dollar store plastic shot glasses for pouring out paint for the larger brushes that will not fit into the jars. You’ll also want them for mixing colors and brush clean up.
To clean your brushes, you’ll need to use the paint thinner and swish and really get them clean and it helps to wipe them a couple times with paper towel. You’ll want to only use these for enamel in the future because if you use them for acrylics, you will get hard residue that could damage your painting.
I hope I have helped and inspired you in some way to pick up these awesome paints and get creative! By the way, if you have any questions, let me know and I’m always happy to answer or help.
Thanks for stopping by!
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