If you take a glance at historic architecture, you will find profound use of stained or art glasses. It’s a pretty easy material to decorate with paint because of the smooth, and flat surface that it offers.
Also, painted glass can look breathtaking when light passes through it. That is why a lot of religious establishments and museums still use glass art as a part of their décor.
With time, this art form has made its way into our homes as well. Now, you can print on any form of glass using just a few art supplies. No need to hand paint drawings onto the glass!
One of the most efficient ways is to add art to glass is by screen printing. If you know how to screen print on glass, you can make this form of art easily at home.
The process is quite easy and quick as well. Let’s take a look at the tips and tricks you should follow to get flawless screen prints on glass.
What Is Screen Printing?
Screen printing is a method of printing graphics onto objects using ink or paint. In this process, you use a stencil, which is typically made of mesh, to press the paint into glass, clothes, paper, and many other kinds of materials.
Since there is a stencil involved, the print or art that is placed is almost always perfect. The ease of getting the desired results is what makes this printing process well-loved amongst beginners.
These stencils are widely available online and in physical art supply stores. If by any chance you cannot get your hands on a stencil, or you want to make a custom one, you could also use masking, or painter’s tape to make your own.
Screen blockers such as lacquer or glue can be placed carefully onto the surface for this method to work as well. A versatile, and flexible art form as such can be a great activity for kids.
Ink is pressed through this stencil onto the object you want to print on. The type of ink you will use will depend on the material you are working with.
Screen printing is a great way to transfer art onto objects because it can produce vivid colors. Even if the material you are working with is dark in color, the design will be displayed in fully saturated colors.
People who have to mass print the same design, love this technique. With the help of the stencil, the chances of you getting a perfect print every time are quite high. The mesh screen makes printing easier and more efficient.
How To Screen Print On Glass | Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners
Screen printing can be a fun activity for both adults and kids. Also, the easy printing process is a great way to customize glasses, which you can then give out as gifts. Here is a detailed guideline on how you need to get started on the process.
Step 1: Prepare The Stencil
There are many kinds of stencils available in the market for glass screen printing. Different kinds of stencils have different methods of preparation.
Usually, the stencil has two protective layers around it that you have to peel off. Then the stencil has to be soaked in tap water for 15 minutes or so.
After soaking for a while, the image of the stencil will slowly start to appear. Cure the stencil in sunlight for 5-10 minutes after the image appears, and it should be ready to use.
Keep in mind, this is not the only way of preparing your stencil. Different brands have different methods that you need to follow. Some brands have a quicker and easier “just peel and stick” type stencil as well. If you are running low on time, these “peel and stick” stencils might be the better-suited option for you.
You could also use screens for printing. These are quite similar to stencils and can be reused for as long as it holds its integrity. For mass printing, screens are the better option to go for.
Step 2: Prepare The Glass
If you have bought a “peel and stick” stencil, preparing the glass should be your first step. You have to prepare the stencil in advance only if the product instructions say you to do that.
To prepare your glass, ensure that it is clean. Make sure there is no oil or dirt on the surface. This might make the ink stick on in a weird way.
Oil on the surface of the glass will make the ink come off faster. The ink might not even stick to the surface of the glass in the first place.
A great way to clean the glass is to use an alcohol pad. Rubbing alcohol, or alcohol pads are great for removing oil or any impurities from your glass.
Step 3: Mix The Paint
A lot of the time, normal acrylic glass paint will work just fine for screen printing on glass. But there is a possibility that the paint will spread or “bleed” if used on its own.
To prevent this bleeding, you should mix in some screen printing ink with acrylic glass paint. You could even mix glass enamel with the ink and paint if needed.
Doing this will make your printing process a lot easier. There will be no bleeding, and the lines of the graphics will be sharper.
Another advantage that you get by mixing glass enamel or acrylic paint with screen printing ink is that it prevents bubbles. Bubbles in the paint can sometimes dry and leave a circular mark on the glass. This does not look professional at all. Adding screen printing ink will prevent the bubbles from forming.
Step 4: Add The Stencil
If your stencil does not have a tacky side, you will have to press it down using some sort of adhesive spray.
There should be 100% contact between the stencil and the glass. Otherwise, the paint or ink will bleed. You won’t get clean lines on the art.
If the stencil does have a tacky side, you can stick it on the glass quite easily. Any stencil should stick to a glass surface in seconds if it has been prepared properly.
When using screens, just place it right where you want the paint. Screens don’t have to be stuck on with glue.
Step 5: Paint On The Glass
Using a flat brush, apply the mixed paint onto the glass.
You should apply the paint in thin layers. Make sure you’ve saturated the stencil properly with your paint mixture.
Don’t be too harsh with the brush. Doing so might cause some bristles to go through the stencil. This will make the finished art look a lot messier as the paint won’t stay inside the lines.
For screens, brush on the paint or use a painting sponge to push in the color. Similar to when using a stencil, you should apply the paint with a light hand.
Step 6: Take Off The Stencil
It’s always a good idea to take off the stencil or screen as soon as the paint dries. Taking it off later might cause some of the paint to come off with the stencil or screen.
After you’ve successfully taken off the stencil, your screenprint on glass is ready!
Tips For Screen Printing On Glass
With the right techniques followed, your screenprint on glass can look as good as the ones you get in stores. If you want a professional finish on your glass, you should know about a few special tricks.
1. Use A Flat Brush
With screen printing, it’s always better to use a flat brush rather than a painting sponge.
A painting sponge can be very messy to use. Also, using sponges increases the risk of the paint bleeding through the stencil. Sponges are time-consuming and harder to get a smooth finish out of.
Flat brushes, on the other hand, help you get a perfect layer of paint in just a few seconds. This is the tool you should definitely use if you are a beginner.
2. Mix The Paint Right
Mixing screen painting ink and acrylic glass paint have quite a lot of benefits. It won’t make the paint bleed, and will also prevent bubbles.
But, if you don’t get the ratio of the mixing right, the paint might come off, or chip very easily. Some kinds of screen painting ink might not be compatible with glass. This might make them chip quite easily.
Read the instructions on the acrylic glass paint that you have purchased before mixing anything with it. The back of the product usually has information about how many additives it can handle. Also, make sure you get a screen printing ink that is compatible with glass surfaces.
3. Wash Your Screens As Soon As Possible
If you are using screens for your glass printing, it’s a good idea to wash them as soon as you are done applying the ink.
Screens can be re-used a lot of times if you take good care of them. Washing them before the paint dries is crucial if you want them to remain in good condition.
If the paint dries, you have to scrub it off. This might ruin the construction of the mesh screen.
Precautions You Should Take When
Screen Printing On Glass
No matter what the project is, you should always be careful when working with glass. If you want to screen print safely and efficiently, there are a few precautions you should take.
1. Use Light Strokes When Painting
The amount of pressure you apply to your artwork is very important. When using a flat paintbrush, make sure you’re not pressing against the glass too hard.
Even if you are using a sponge, you should work with light dabs. Pressing in the sponge too hard, or pushing the brush into the glass, might make the ink bleed and spread. The result will be a messy screen print.
2. Use Paint That Is Safe For You
Many people love to screenprint on their drinking glasses. It’s a great way to customize your mugs. Adding your initials, or any form of art to your mug can make the product more special.
If you are printing on a drinking glass, you need to use paint that is safe for you. You don’t want any toxic paint touching your drinks. Food-grade ink or non-toxic ink will be the right choice.
3. Be Careful When Handling Glass
Working with glass products can be a bit risky. To be on the safer side, you should keep the glass in a safe place when working.
If you are screen printing on a rounded glass, make sure you have the glass held in place. Otherwise, if the mug or drinking glass moves too much, it might roll off the table and break. Shattered glass is the last thing you want in your workspace.
Even if you are working with a flat piece of glass, you should not apply too much pressure on it. Don’t lean on it or press it too hard.
Take safety measures beforehand. Try and make your workspace safe and crowd-free before working with glass.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long will screen print last on glass?
Screenprint will last a long time on glass if it is taken care of properly.
The paint does not chip on decorative glasses. But screenprints on drinking mugs might chip with regular use and washes. Depending on how frequently the mug is being washed, the print can last from 6 months to a year.
2. How to take care of screen print on glass?
There is not much maintenance needed for screenprints on glass.
Drinking glasses that you have a screen printed on should be washed with care. It’s better not to throw them in the dishwasher unless you’ve used a very high-quality waterproof glass ink, or paint.
Decorative glasses just need to be lightly brushed to get rid of any dust.
3. How Can I Make My Screen Print Last Longer On Glass?
Screenprints typically last a long time. But, there are some clear coats that you can get for glass paints that can be sprayed on the screen print.
These clear coats add a nice water-proof layer to the glass and can keep the ink from chipping.
4. Can You Use Speedball Ink On Glass?
Many people mix in speedball ink with acrylic glass paint to prevent bleeding. While it does work for getting rid of bleeding and bubbles, it can cause the print to chip faster if the ratio of mixing is not right. This is because speedball ink is not meant to be used on glass surfaces.
Screen printing on glass is a creative activity to try for people of all ages. Once you’ve become a pro at screen printing, you can also start a small business or career on it.
Knowing how to screen print on glass properly is important if you want not only good but professional results. The process is quite simple. If you follow the right technique, you too can get stunning results on your screen prints at the comfort of your home!