Sunday, August 5, 2012

DIY: Hand-painted Highball Glass

I've done a lot of hand-painted glass for gifts the past few years. The first project was very simple - just the WSU Cougar logo on a wine glass with the word "Mom" on it for my mom (obviously).
I've since gotten a little more ambitious. My most recent project, a highball glass, was my most elaborate yet.

I really enjoy doing hand-painted glassware as a gift - I think it's a thoughtful one that can be customized to any individual and any occasion! There are literally hundreds of ways to implement this gift idea; it's fabulous. Not only is it thoughtful, it's a gift that won't break the bank, but still is a quality gift with meaning and love in it. What's to hate?!

So here's the scoop on DIY hand-painted glassware, specifically this hand-painted highball glass gifted for a 21st birthday.

Step 1: Find a piece of glassware that you'd like to paint.
The great thing about this is that you can find quality, plain glassware all over the place for very reasonable prices (like, seriously affordable). For example: I have painted three beer steins for friends (I'll show them at the end of this post). I got the glassware at Walmart and all three were quality pieces (heavy weight glass, no chips, stars, or cracks) and all were highly affordable. As for the wine glass and for this highball glass - I found them at my local Bed Bath and Beyond in the clearance section. This is a great place to look for single glassware items. BBB doesn't sell single pieces often, because glassware is mostly sold in sets - but when a set has a piece break, they sell the remaining pieces as singles. It's much less expensive to buy as singles and the pieces are very nice. Both the wine glass and the highball glass were lonely pieces from a broken set and were sold for less than $3 each.

Step 2: Buy some paint!
I use a brand of glass paint called Air Dry PermEnamel by Delta. It has worked fabulously for me so far and what I love about this paint system is that it is all air dry and the resulting painted glassware is dishwasher safe and oven/microwave safe up to 350 degrees F. Isn't that awesome?! There are three steps to their system: 1) the surface conditioner 2) the PermEnamel paint and 3) the glaze. I bought my paints at my local Michaels for about $6 each for the paints and a little less for the conditioner and glaze (I don't quite remember the prices exactly...). It's a bit spendy at first, but I have had my paints and glaze for almost 3 years now and I still use them! The only thing I need to buy more of is the conditioner - I had a little spill... :P So I think it's well worth the investment! I've done five gifts with my paints already. (Not pictured: my black paint.)

Step 3: Prep the glassware.
Remove all price stickers and other stickers that may be on the glass. Wash the glassware (I use Dawn dish soap) and dry it completely. Sounds easy enough - but sometimes those stickers can be little monsters...
For example:
As you can see in the picture on the left, I tried to peel the sticker off of this highball glass and it didn't work out so well. But as the photo also suggests - I used sticky out by Elmer's to help me with my problem. You may have seen me use this product to get gum out of my living room carpet. It's a great product. I just dribbled some of it on the sticker until the sticker was soaked (it took less than a teaspoon) and used a kitchen scrubby and it came off with no sweat and no residue! Perfect.

Step 4: Condition the glass. 
Next, use the Air Dry PermEnamel Surface Conditioner to prep the area that you will be painting. To conserve my conditioner, I just apply it to the areas I plan to paint. I use an ordinary paintbrush. Let dry completely (only takes a few minutes).

Step 5: Paint it!
Now, the fun part - paint! I have free-handed some designs and also utilized stencils. I print my own stencils and use them as references. It is important to note that glass is often a curved surface so stencils don't work perfectly. My advice: paint with them as best you can to get the shape reference. Then remove the stencil and perfect the image free-hand. Also utilize other painting tricks like using tape for straight lines and using toothpicks for fine lines and lettering. Also, with this paint, you can scratch it away and remove it for mess-ups and detailed edges.
Have at it and have fun! Here are images from my painting of the highball glass.
Allow the paint to dry for at least two hours before moving on to the next step (or whatever is recommended by the manufacturer of the brand of paint you are using).

Step 6: Glaze it!
Next, you want to glaze the painted designs. I chose a glossy glaze because I wanted my images to have a  sheen similar to clean glass. After your paint has dried, apply the glaze to the designs. I only glaze my designs. I'm sure you could glaze the entire piece (provided you conditioned all of the glass) but, I like to avoid the occurrence of brush strokes as much as possible, so I only glaze designs.

Step 7: Allow to dry completely. 
For the Air-Dry PermEnamel system, the glaze must set and dry for 10 full days before it is dishwasher-safe and microwave and oven safe up to 350 degrees F. I will caution, however, that though this paint system claims to be dishwasher safe, all painted glassware and ceramic, whether store-bought or hand-painted will maintain their finishes longer if they are hand washed. Almost all of my gifts were gifted before the 10 days were up. I simply notified the receivers of the time span - no biggie! ;)

Step 8: Admire your work! 
It's so fun. Like I said before, this highball glass was the most elaborate. I included a recipe for a mixed drink that could be served in the glass, the "Shark Bite" and a design that is meant to be seen through the glass bottom. Behold!

I hope that I've given you a new idea for a DIY gift. I think it's a fabulous way to celebrate a lot of occasions and, like I said before, it is a seriously versatile idea.

Below are photos of some of my other hand-painted glassware gifts!
Have a great day!
Stay excellent.
- Jenny -

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