How to Paint on Glass and Make It Permanent

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Have you ever wondered if you could paint on glassware and have your artwork be permanent? Yes, you can, and it is pretty easy to do!

I love painting on glass because there are so many options available. Often, I give the painted items away to friends and family members for Christmas gifts and birthday gifts, or just because I feel like doing something nice for someone I care about.

Today we are going to talk about some of the best ideas for painting glass, how to do it, the supplies you’ll need, and how to make your artwork permanent.

Let’s get started!

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Glass?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint to paint on glass. You can even make sure that the paint isn’t going to chip away or peel off over time as long as you are using the right type of paint.

Painting on glass is a great way to relax and have fun. Painting a small piece of glassware doesn’t take nearly as much time as painting on a canvas, and there is never a shortage of items to paint on.

Once you can master the art of painting on glass, you are going to have loads of beautiful decorative items for yourself and to give to others. These painted items will be beautiful, with the glass reflecting light on the colors you paint with.

I generally advise using acrylic paints for the best results. There are different types of acrylic paint, so you need to be sure that you choose the right one for your project.

Choosing the Right Acrylic Paint for Glass Painting

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best type of acrylic paint for a glass-painting project. First, you need to decide how transparent you want your artwork to be.

Remember, acrylic paints are opaque. You also want to think about the finish and the final color. I recommend looking at a color chart for the paint you are using before you choose your colors.

There are a few types of acrylic paint you can use. I don’t recommend using the same acrylic paint you would use on canvas. It can’t be baked, so it isn’t going to be permanent, and eventually, the paint will begin to wear off.

I suggest looking for washable or permanent acrylic paint. Acrylic enamel paint is ideal for painting on glass. Don’t cheap out on your paints. The higher the grade, the better your finished product will be.

Don’t forget to consider the brushes you will be using. Natural hair brushes are going to give you a smooth finish, but if you want the brush strokes to be visible, synthetic brushes will do the trick nicely.

Should You Use Stencils?

Many people ask me if I use stencils when I am painting on glassware. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. It all depends on the design and how detailed or complicated it is.

If you don’t feel that you have the necessary skills to create freehand designs for your glass-painting projects, stencils are the way to go. There are so many to choose from, and many are made from materials that will stretch and lay flat on curved surfaces.

When using stencils, you can use sponges to fill in the color for larger, solid shapes. For details, use smaller paintbrushes, such as liner brushes.

What Type of Glass Is Used for Glass Painting?

Glass painting can be done on various types of glass surfaces, including:

  • Clear glass: Clear glass provides a blank canvas for painting, allowing colors to show through vibrantly.
  • Stained glass: Stained glass is often used for intricate and colorful designs. It typically has a translucent quality that allows light to pass through, creating a beautiful effect.
  • Frosted glass: Frosted glass has a textured or etched surface, which can add a unique touch to painted designs.
  • Tempered glass: Tempered glass is known for its durability and resistance to breakage. It can be used for painting larger glass panels or windows.
  • Glassware: Various glassware items such as wine glasses, mugs, vases, and jars can also be used for painting. These often have smooth surfaces, making them suitable for detailed designs.

Which Glassware Can You Paint On?

As an artist, there are various glassware items you can paint on. Here are some options:

  • Bottles
  • Wine glasses
  • Vases
  • Glass ornaments
  • Glass plates
  • Mason jars

Glass bottle painting is one of the most popular choices. You can use wine bottles, soda bottles, or decorative bottles. When painting on glassware, it’s important to use paints specifically formulated for glass or enamel paints, as they adhere better to the smooth surface. 

Additionally, consider doing an additional surface preparation, such as priming or using specific paints designed for glass. You may also need to use a sealant or varnish designed for glass to protect the painted design and ensure longevity.

How to Start Painting on Glass

Once you have all of the tools, the glass item(s), and everything else you think you will need for your project, it’s time to get into the fun part, which is the painting. Let’s take a look at the steps you will take to complete your project.

Clean the Glass

The first step in how to prep glass for acrylic paint is to make sure that the glass is clean. Wash the item with warm soapy water to get rid of any dirt.

Let the glass air-dry naturally, and then use a paper towel dabbed in rubbing alcohol to get rid of smudges. I advise wearing gloves while you are working so you don’t get fingerprints and smudges all over the glass.

How to prime glass for paint

  • Prepare the primer: Choose an appropriate primer for glass painting, such as a glass-specific primer or an enamel-based primer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing and preparing the primer.
  • Apply the primer: Use a brush or a sprayer to apply an even coat of primer onto the glass surface. Make sure to cover the entire area you plan to paint. Allow the primer to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually takes around 24 to 72 hours.
  • Sand the primer (optional): For better paint adhesion, you can lightly sand the dried primer with fine-grit sandpaper. This helps create a slightly rough texture on the surface.
  • Clean the primed surface: Remove any dust or debris created during sanding by wiping the primed surface with a clean, lint-free cloth.

After priming the glass, you are ready to paint. Use acrylic or glass paint specifically designed for glass surfaces. Apply the paint in thin, even layers, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. Consider sealing the painted glass with a clear varnish or sealer for added durability.

Create Your Design

Once the glass items are clean, it is time to create the design. You will need to outline the pattern on the glass, whether you are drawing it yourself or using a stencil.

I mentioned the stencils that will stick to the surface. You can also tape designs to the inside of the glass item (if it is not a flat surface) and then simply trace the designs onto the surface.

Get Painting!

Now you are ready to begin painting. Use your outline or stencil, and apply the paint onto the glass. After you finish painting, do not touch the glass for at least one hour.

Some Painting on Glass Ideas You Can Try

Painting on glass offers a unique opportunity to create beautiful and translucent artworks. Here are some glass painting ideas to inspire your glass painting:

Marbled Glassware

Create a stunning marbled effect on glass items like jars, vases, or wine glasses. Use acrylic paints in different colors and pour them into a container of water. Swirl the colors together and dip the glass item into the water to transfer the marbled pattern.

Mandala Votive Holders

Paint intricate mandala patterns on glass votive holders using acrylic or glass paints. The transparent nature of glass will enhance the beauty of the mandala design when illuminated by a candle.

Reverse Glass Lanterns

Transform glass lanterns into captivating pieces by painting on the inside surface. Use acrylic paints to create scenes, patterns, or silhouettes, and the light passing through the glass will bring the artwork to life.

Wine Glass Charms

Personalize wine glasses by painting small charms on the base of each glass. Use enamel or glass paints to create unique designs or monograms that will help guests identify their glasses at parties or gatherings.

Frosted Glass Vases

Achieve an elegant and frosted look on glass vases by using frosted glass spray paint. Apply the paint in light coats to create a semi-transparent effect, leaving some areas clear for a beautiful contrast.

Glass Terrariums

Paint glass terrariums with intricate scenes or abstract patterns using acrylic paints. The transparent nature of the glass will add depth and dimension to your miniature landscapes or designs.

Glass Sun Catchers

Create dazzling sun catchers by painting on glass discs or ornaments with translucent glass paints. Use vibrant colors and intricate designs to capture the sunlight and cast beautiful prisms of color in your space.

For all these projects, ensure that the glass surface is clean and free from any oils or residue before painting. Use suitable paints like acrylic, enamel, or glass paints depending on the desired effect and finish. 

How to Paint Glass Permanently

So, how do you make sure that the acrylic paint isn’t going to wear off the glassware over time? I have a few tips that will help.

#1. Bake the Glassware

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the painted glassware for about half an hour. Turn the oven off and allow the glass to cool completely before removing it.

Do not use this item for at least three days after baking, just to be certain that the paint is permanently set. Remember, you need to use enamel paint if you intend to bake the glassware. Regular acrylic paint should never be baked because it can give off hazardous fumes.

Earlier I mentioned that there are a few types of acrylic paint. Some are dishwasher safe, while others are not. 

Depending on how you plan to use your painted glassware, you may need to look for paint that is dishwasher safe. Read the paint directions before cleaning to make sure you are doing it in the safest way possible.

#2. Use Varnish

If you do not plan on using your painted glassware for anything other than decorative items it is okay to add a coat of varnish once you have finished painting. I recommend using a spray varnish to make sure there are no visible brush strokes unless of course, that is the look you are going for.


Painting on glassware is a fun and relaxing way to spend your time, and you will end up with some beautiful items. Depending on the paint you use, you may even be able to use the glassware for eating and drinking.

Did you know that you can also use oil paint on glass?

Be sure to always carefully read the labels on the paint to make sure it is the right type for the glassware you will be painting on. Enamel acrylic paint is best for items that will be baked. You can use regular acrylic artist paint if you intend to use varnish and make the glassware strictly decorative.

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*image by PantherMediaSeller/depositphotos