Transparent Glaze - How to question?

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Bill Ames
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:34 pm

Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Bill Ames » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:41 pm

Hello. This is my first post to the board but I've been lurking for a while. I'm constantly impressed by the level of work I see here. This forum has also been a great help since there doesn't appear to be anyone in Baltimore that I could bother for some advice.

So, I'm making my first attempt at a reverse glass sign. I have no prior experience with any of this. I glue chipped some of the lettering on a 1/4 piece of plate glass and things went pretty smoothly with that. I did have some areas where the chipping went a little outside of my outline but it is hardly noticeable. Is there anything I can do in the future to help prevent the chipping from going outside of the area that I want to chip? I'd like to keep my lines as sharp as possible.

At this point though my main question, that I hope someone can shed some light on, is how do I make a transparent glaze (I think that is what it is called) to slightly tint some leaf? Can I just get some 1-shot color and mix it with 1-shot clear, put it in an airbrush and apply? I was thinking of 1-shot violet in some 1-shot clear spray on Aluminum leaf. I've searched the rest of the forum and that is sort of the technique I put together from various threads and replies. Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance for any help that is passed along.

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Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by ericmalicoat » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:59 pm

Personally, I used House of Kolor Kandy colors for that kind of thing. They are designed specifically to have vibrant color while showing whats below them. The Kandy concentrates mix into any urethane(but separate in 1shot). I use Frog Juice or HOK SG100 intercoat clear. So far I've never had an adhesion problem with them on glass. You can even brush them.

I have used 1shot too, but found the transperancy varies greatly by color. Assumably this a result of requirements pigmnets for each color. Some are good while others arecloudy as best.

I believe that Larry white has tried anoline dyes in shalaq. He seems to have tried everything. Maybe he'll chime in.

Larry White
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Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Larry White » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:03 pm

Hi Bill-
The most important thing to remember about doing any type of transparent
glaze, is to use a transparent paint or pigment. Trying to achieve a transparent
glaze by mixing an opaque paint, such as OneShot, into a clear medium,
just won't work. If I'm not mistaken, Letterhead Sign Supply sells a set
of transparent screen inks that work well for this purpose. I like to use
transparent artist oil colors. One thing about the artist oil colors is they
usually all have a color fastness rating. Getting the colors with the highest
rating will give you the most longevity to the finished piece. Be sure the
tube says "transparent". Once thoroughly mixed (and straining is not
out of the question), a small amount of varnish can be added. I think
its best to do a lighter coat with more pigment in it, than trying to "build up"
the pigment with multiple coats. The oil colors take a little longer to dry.
After they're dry they can be water gilded (add a drop of Ivory dish soap
into your water size as a surfactant) or surface gilded. Hope that helps.

Good luck, heh?

Eric is right...I've tried most everything. And yes, shellac can be tinted with
analyn dye, but I have found the colors to be a bit more fugitive.

Bill Ames
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:34 pm

Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Bill Ames » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:21 pm

Thanks for the replies. It looks like this is a little more complicated that I initially thought thought. I looked online and it seems I'll have no trouble getting HOK. Locally I should be able to locate artist's colors. I'll probably give that a try first.

Is there any special varnish I should look for when I'm at the art store?

Thanks again to both of you for the helpful information.

Roderick Treece
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Location: San deigo Calif

Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Roderick Treece » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:41 pm

Hi Bill,
If I am airbrushing a transparent color I use transparent inks and any fast drying clear, Frog juice, Fiberseal. If i am painting it by hand again I would use transparent ink or one shot and Winsor Newton "LIquin" . The one shot will never be as bright as inks but if I am doing something more aged or rustic one shot works fine.

Good luck

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Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by oatis » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:53 pm

Bill: I have a lot of experience w/ transparent glazes, and my favorite combo is quick size, with transparent artists oils, as Larry suggested. Straining is a must. If you are going to lay aluminum leaf over the tinted area (is this for your chipped centers?) then you actually can lay matte leaf directly into the tinted size. This will even work if this is a blended area: Lay in the size with a brush, then come back pretty quick and dust on some tinted size with the airbrush. The thinner you use in the airbrush can be your enemy: if you don't do both operations close together, your airbushing can lift the size.

The best thing to do is apply the tinted size and let is cure completely out: 2 days at least. You'll get a nice bright water gild in back of that, if you use gold leaf, that is.

And if you want to impress all your friends, you can't beat transparent glazes to create blended shades. Finish out your copy, then run a paint outline around your lettering, and around the areas you want as your shades. It is pretty essential to have the shades well laid out on your pattern. Once the outline is dry, fill the shade areas with your glaze: stroke it out well to avoid sags. The goal is a see-through, "stained-glass" appearance. If you want to show off, lay in "splits" of different colored glazes. After those are absolutely dry (again: days) you can use a soft fitch to model blended dimensional shades in back of the glazed areas, using white, black and grey enamel, reduced with a little linseed oil. If you move right along you can safely do this without disturbing the glazes.
Dave Smith has some good examples, (Larry White, too)and I did a step-by step in the last edition of the LeBlanc book. I will get some posted.

Can't wait to see that sign!

Mark Oatis

Larry White
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Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Larry White » Fri Mar 16, 2012 10:11 pm

:!: BEWARE!! :!:

I mixed up a glaze as Mark describes using OneShot Quick Size and the transparent screen inks.
Done it that way in the past, more than once...but this time, before I could finish painting in the
glaze to the drop shadows, the darned stuff turned to jelly!

Messed up my project big time! :evil:

"What was to become of your glass project?"

..."There it sits." :cry:


Bill Ames
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:34 pm

Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Bill Ames » Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:36 am

Thanks for all of the replies.

In regards to using Transparent Oils, how should I strain the mix? Can I just pour the mixture through some fabric?

Bill Ames
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:34 pm

Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Bill Ames » Mon Mar 19, 2012 6:24 am

OK, so I went the route of using the transparent artist color and some varnish. The art store here in Baltimore had a very limited selection and the employees had and even more limited knowledge of the items and application. I picked a synvar varnish since the label said it was water clear.

I took it home and mixed a fair amount of color in with the varnish and applied with a brush. I'm still trying to figure out how to use the airbrush I bought. I know that probably sounds silly but I haven't had the time and I'm real new to this. I found that I had too much color in the varnish to the point that the fade wasn't gradual at all. The color would have been fantastic if I wasn't going for a light tint and fade. I didn't bother to strain it, or attempt to strain it, since all of the pigment seemed to dissolve - there were no chunks.

Anyway since the color was way too intense I wiped all of it off and started over with just a little tint. I'm waiting to see how it turns out. I'm headed to New Orleans for a week, so while I'm drinking bloody marys and eating spicy food I'm hoping the varnish will be dry upon my return. The I can apply the leaf and see how it turns out.

This has been a major learning process but has been fun nonetheless.

Mike Jackson
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Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:26 am

I might sound like a broken record here, but I would NEVER try something like this on an actual piece until I tried it a few dozen times on some scrap glass. You might want to try ALL of the suggestions given on this thread on a bunch of cheap glass. If you have to ask the question (which we wholeheartedly support here), you are probably not ready to actually put it to use yet!!!!!! Those experimental pieces are the necessary steps in the learning process.

If you dig around on the Internet, you can probably find sources telling you which artists oil colors are both transparent and light fast. My degree in college was fine art in painting. In the Color Theory Classes we were forced to do a zillion color tests. It didn't take long to learn that any paint with the word "cadmium" was almost always very opaque. Other colors like thalo blue and thalo green were transparent. Lamp Black is opaque while Paynes Gray was slightly transparent. It was for that reason LeBlanc (and Steven Parrish) used it for some of their outlines on gold lettering. As they lettered the thin outlines on the first coat from the back of the glass, they could see how evenly they were outlining.

One test would be to see how thin you really need to mix the paint into the varnish. How well will it flow out or will it leave brush strokes? A test might only consist of a single brush stroke. Others might be more involved.

If you were sold water base varnish and then mixed it in with artist's oil colors, you will likely not get them to mix. Oil and water. Someone else mentioned Frog Juice, but unless you do your tests and know how to do it, you will likely curl up your underlying paints. Frog Juice is a very hot paint. There are lots of workable clear varnishes you can use with the transparent stains, but some dry too fast and some take forever. Both have their place depending on what you are doing.

My post here is to encourage you to have fun trying out the processes on scraps of glass. You will learn a lot FAST.
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Bill Ames
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Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:34 pm

Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Bill Ames » Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:31 am


Thanks for that advice. I know even less about paints than I do about the rest of the stuff I've asked about. I'll file that away for future reference. I'm sure it will come in handy.

The synvar varnish that I picked stated it was for oil and acrylic. I was looking at the Damar Varnish on the same shelf and was trying to decide if I should go that route instead since I have read about it being used here on the forum. I ended up going with the Synvar because it was clear and the Damar was yellow or yellowish.

You're 100% right. I really should test these techniques out on scrap pieces but I've never been one for common sense. I'm geared to just jump in and see what happens. Sometimes that causes me "mucho" heartache. Really this whole project has been a test in itself. I've never laid gold leaf, painted with artist color, sandblasted, stenciled, glue chipped, or tried to tint foil. I went through 2 sheets of normal 1/4" plate glass (the first sheet was given to me) and the cost of the (imitation) leaf and paint. I wouldn't dream of using real leaf or the more expensive glass until I consistently and confidently get the hang of things. I tried to find someone in the Baltimore area to learn from or at least visit and pester for some information but it looks like this art form is more popular in Europe or the West Coast. So I pulled up as many videos on Youtube that I could find and read pretty much the entire forum over a few weeks time. Not that those methods are a substitute for having hands on experience, but it was all I had at the time. I found the thread listing links to electronic copies of sign writing books to probably be the single most helpful bit of information I have come across.

I'm headed to New Orleans tomorrow for a few days of rest and hear there is a sign shop down there. I'm going to try to take time out of my recreation schedule and stop by the place and see if I can learn anything.

In this project I have learned a whole lot about how paint flows and how to use a script liner brush. It took me a few days but I've become fairly confident in using it. I'd like to/need to know more about brush selection and use (and paints). The glue chipping went really smooth, so I'll just stick to the formula and process I used from now on. I printed out a copy of the instructions from a recent thread here and have filed it away for next time. Sandblasting went fairly well. I realized I need to be careful not to go too deep - I lost some detail. I've only used my blasting cabinet 3 times so I'm still green in that respect. I also will look for a real sandblast resist next time. I was unable to locate any locally and ended up using clear adhesive acrylic sheeting. The acrylic worked really well but I think something with a better adhesive on it and a little thicker would do better. I used the leaf size that came in a kit. I was concerned that it was white but it dried clear and looks fine, more or less. I'd like to try water gilding at some point in the future. I couldn't find Gelatin locally and already had the size from the kit, so I just used what I had on hand. Next time I'll order some online.

I'm sure I'll have more questions as things progress.

Mark Summers
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Location: Frisco, Co

Re: Transparent Glaze - How to question?

Post by Mark Summers » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:20 am

I've never had much success trying to brush a transparent glaze and making
it look uniform. On the other hand, as a screen printer, I have always had
success sceen printing a Naz-Dar transparent enamel ink.


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