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glass paint is not just for glass

The new Martha Stewart Glass Paint series are just chock full of fun. Do something about those boring generic white dishes you have lying around the house, that you've been meaning to donate or toss. Don't throw them out - how about using one as a new cup coaster? A new jewelry tray? Something to hold your man's cufflink collection?

While these glass paints tend to be used on glassware, they're really also ceramic paints too. Here's what I managed to bang out the first night. I got white porcelain dishes in all various shapes from my local discount store for $1.50 each!

Exhibit A - solid colors

Exhibit B - gradation / brushed effect

Exhibit C - just lines

The glass paints come in a variety of finishes, including opaque (which I got), transparent, frosted, metallic, glitter, etc. There's so many different effects you can come up with using the different finishes.

I stuck with the basics, a set of opaque paints, which comes with great basic colors, that you can use as is or mix it up. I also got metallic opaque black nickel (because Michaels ran out of plain black), metallic gold, and a liquid fill medium. And some brushes and a disposable tray for mixing.

Exhibit A

The liquid fill medium is meant for "diluting" the paints straight from the bottle so that they can be spread onto the Martha Stewart static clings. But you can treat it just like any acrylic flow medium to extend the flow of the paints (don't use water). Mix some with a color in a tray and use it like regular paint. It will create better flow and also greater transparency. You can use it to create some interesting brush effects. That's how I created the blue gradient effect in Exhibit B above. I mixed liquid fill with blue for the lighter area (slightly more fill than color), allowing the white to come through. And then gradually add more color to this mix to get the color darker and darker. At the darkest part, I mixed blue and black on the tray separately without any liquid fill. I used short strokes to create the transition. It is easier to purposely show brush strokes than trying to get a perfectly smooth look, which is not that easy, since you're painting on slippery surfaces. It's more interesting visually this way anyway.


Dry biscuits on saucer for photo purposes only.

Exhibit B

If you want a really solid, rich color in your design (Ex A), I recommend painting two layers, because it will be hard to get the evenness and color richness in one go. The glossiness of the dish/glass will not stick to your paint for a completely smooth finish. You will see a lot of brush strokes. A second layer of paint will smooth out much better over the existing first layer of paint.

Paint the first layer with a mix of liquid fill and color (about 1:1 ratio), just try to make it not too gunky here, perfection is not necessary. Let that dry for at least an hour. Be patient so you don't screw up the first layer before it's properly dried. Then paint the second layer with either the color straight up, or slightly diluted with liquid fill for easier flow. This is the best way to get a really deep smooth color. Even on my teal plate, I didn't have a completely smooth finish because I was still experimenting. But I actually like having that hand painted texture more than having it look like a perfectly smooth glaze. As a final touch, I painted two layers of the red in a similar fashion, and used the paint bottle directly for the gold outline.


If brush work sounds too intimidating or troublesome for you, using the paint straight from the bottle is great too. The tip opening on the bottle is very fine, allowing you to draw fine lines easily.

Exhibit C

For this, I drew the black lines first. I just freehanded it because I wanted that look. When the black dried after an hour or so, I went forth with the red, then the blue right after. And finally the little gold peekaboo in the middle! You can see how squiggly some lines are where I started out, which I think is funny. This tray is for Mr. Pooper to hold his watches or small whatevers. :D


Finishing up

To set and cure the dishes, either let them dry for 21 days or bake them in the oven. If using the oven, let them air-dry for an hour first, then put them in while the oven is still cool, then bake for 30 minutes at 350ºF; and finally, let it cool down in the oven afterward. You want to avoid any heat or cooling shock, which could crack your masterpieces. Most ceramic or porcelain should be able to tolerate the oven method. But definitely try a test piece if you're concerned. As for glass, you should be careful and try to read any labels with the glassware. Some thin or non-high-tempered glassware may not be able to tolerate the heat. Just go with the air cured method if you're in doubt. It dries to the touch in just an hour anyway, as long as you're not abusing it before the full cure, you can handle it a bit.

About food safety

There seems to be a lot of confusion about this, and misuse of the product even. Although the paint is non-toxic, it is not officially FDA-approved (nor un-approved) as food-safe for direct contact with food. No oven-baked paint is for that matter. While it probably won't kill you to ingest slight amounts of the paint, you really shouldn't paint the center of your dinner plates or insides of your bowls. Forks, knives, spoons, and acids from foods can and will crack or erode paint with regular use. The cracks can store bacteria and cause health concerns, or get all nasty looking anyway. So just don't do it.

And I don't really see it as a problem anyway. There are so many other things you can design: outside of cups/bowls (away from the lip), cup saucers/coasters, sundries holder, etc. etc. I put some dry light biscuits on a saucer in one picture above mostly for artistic purposes--so I wouldn't do it normally, though dry uses like that is probably just fine (but still just avoid it). If I have a large rimmed dish, like those deep soup bowls, I'd consider painting the outer rim of it too, where food will not intentionally touch. Just don't sip from the bowl or bite into the rim... Use your best judgment! But if you must have a food-safe design no matter what, then you need to head to the ceramics studio and do them the "legit" way.

The kind of results and convenience you get from these glass paints is really amazing. You can repurpose and restyle your boring wares in a matter of hours. You don't have to throw your own clay on a wheel, bake in a kiln, and glaze your pieces over many days (even though I love doing that too). Talk about instant gratification! Modern science is so great.

Water rings no more! Boy, do I hate water ring stains on tables.