To paint on stain glass

To paint upon glass is an art which has generally appeared difficult, yet there is no representation more elegant than that of a mezzotinto painted in this manner, for it gives all the softness that can be desired in a picture, and is easy to work, as there are no outlines to draw, nor any shades to make.

The prints are those done in mezzotinto; for their shades being rubbed down on the glass, the several lines, which represent the shady part of any common print, are by this means blended together and appear as soft and united as in any drawing of Indian-ink.

Provide such mezzotintos as are wanted; cut off the margin, then get a piece of fine grown-glass the size of the print, and as flat and free from knots and scratches as possible; clean the glass, and lay some Venice turpentine, quite thin and smooth, on one side, with a brush of hog's hair. Lay the print flat in water, and let it remain on the surface till it sinks; it is then damp enough; take it carefully out, and dab it between some papers, that no water may be seen, yet so as to be damp.

Next lay the damp print with its face uppermost upon a flat table, then hold the glass over it, without touching the turpentine, till it is exactly even with the print; let it fall gently on it. Press the glass down carefully with the fingers in several parts, so that the turpentine may stick to the print; after which take it up, then holding the glass towards you, press the prints with the fingers, from the centre towards the edges, till no blisters remain.

When this is done, wet the back of the paint with a sponge, till the paper will rub off with the fingers; then rub it gently, and the white paper will roll off, leaving the impression only upon the glass; then let it dry, and, with a camel's hair pencil, dipped in oil of turpentine, wet it all over, and it will be perfectly transparent, and fit for painting.


The first thing to be done, in order to paint, or stain glass in the modern way, is to design, and even color the whole subject on paper. Then choose such pieces of glass as are clear, even, and smooth, and proper to receive the several parts. Proceed to distribute the design itself, or the paper it is drawn on, into pieces suitable to those on the glass, always taking care that the glasses may join in the contours of the figures, and the folds of the draperies; that the carnations and other finer parts may not be impaired by the lead with which the pieces are to be joined together. The distribution being made, mark all the glasses, as well as papers, that they may be known again; which done, apply every part of the design upon the glass intended for it; and copy or transfer the design upon this glass with the black color diluted in gumwater, by tracing and following all the lines and strokes that appear through the glass, with the point of a pencil.

When these strokes are well dried, which will be in about 2 days (the work being only in black and white), give it a slight wash over with urine, gum-arabic, and a little black, and repeat this several times, according as the shades are desired to be heightened, with this precaution, never to apply a new wash till the former is sufficiently dried. This done, the lights and risings are given by rubbing off the color in the respective places with a wooden point, or by the handle of the pencil.

The colors are used with gum-water, the same as in painting in miniature, taking care to apply them lightly, for fear of effacing the outlines of the design: or even, for the greater security, to apply them on the other side; especially yellow, which is very pernicious to the other colors, by blending therewith. And here too, as in pieces of black and white, particular regard must always be had not to lay color on color, till such time as the former is well dried.

When the painting of all the pieces is finished, they are carried to the furnace to anneal, or to bake the colors.

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