Quite a few of my interests over the years have involved custom heraldry, from D&D characters and fictional families, to the SCA kingdoms, to history in general. Heraldic symbols have distinct meanings, and each family crest tells you something about a family’s history. In fictional settings, the Coat of Arms that a character or a state wears can tell you what they’re about. It’s like meeting art with symbolism and history, and it looks awesome.
Here’s how I chose to pay homage to the awesome designs of fictional royal crests!
These shot glasses were made as a matching set based on a game my friends and I were playing. The reason I love putting heraldry on glasses so much is that the simple colors and bold outlines lend themselves very well to tracing. Of course if something a bit simpler is more your speed, here are the glasses I made during my SCA days.
The process was similar for all the glasses. I either copied an image to the best of my ability, or I did a little tracing cheat by printing out the image (scaled down to whatever size I needed) and letting it rest in the glass as I painted. Here are my tricks, in case you’re looking to do some of your own glass painting:
- Work in thin layers, letting them dry completely between coats. Glass paints are thin, and light will shine through on the first coat or two. Let it dry completely, then apply another layer, and repeat this till it’s entirely opaque.
- Save outlines for last. The detail of the outline is arguably the most important part of the design. You can use it to cover up mistakes or make slight corrections to shapes. So do everything else first, working from the background to the foreground. The more important the shape, the later you do that layer.
- Try not to let thick gobs appear anywhere. This can especially happen in areas you’ve gone over with too thick a layer, or in globbing on the outline. Enamel paints are incredibly resistant once cured, but in my experience you’re far more likely to lose a chunk of paint if it’s raised up high above the glass. It just flakes off. Smooth out any raised bumps or droplets while you’re painting to avoid them getting scraped off later.
- Remember that glass bends light and therefor the thicker the glass the more distorted your image can be, behind it. If you’re tracing, rotate your glass often to make sure you’re actually following the lines correctly. Look at the design head-on every so often to make sure it’s maintaining the shape you want. Always follow your design instincts and what does look right over what “should” look right.
- Keep rubbing alcohol nearby to correct any mistakes. It wipes the paint off cleanly. Try using it on a Q-tip for adjusting minor details.
- Always pull your lines, never push them. Lift up your thin lining brushing and rotate the glass to make sure you are always pulling the lines. Trust me, you’ll ruin your line work doing anything else.
- If you’re working with stencils, gob your paint on thick and peel the stencil off before it dries. This is the one exception to the “work in thin layers” rule.
That’s about all I can think of! Make sure to read and follow your particular particular paint brand’s instructions for curing, and never attempt to wash a glass before it’s been cured either by air or in an oven.
The only paint I use anymore for glass painting is Folk Art Multisurface. I’ve had the same set for a while and it lasts me for about every project I have. They’ve worked on every glass I’ve painted and held up very well.
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