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FolkArt Glass Enamels vs Gallery Glass for Faux Stained Glass Window Project

I had the interesting job of repairing two faux stained glass windows for the local renaissance faire.  These were done by some volunteers in the seventies and were in dire need of some tender care.

The paint used to create the faux stained glass effect was in bad shape.  Here is close up of some of the damage from exposure to the sun and other elements.

 The windows themselves are old plexiglass and have quite a few imperfections in the material.  Additionally, the paint and faux leading were also peeling off of these pieces.
The Tudor Roses on the second window were badly faded and some of the faux leading was peeling off of the window.
Since funds were extremely limited, I had to find an inexpensive product to fix them.  I decided my best bet was to go to my local craft store and see what types of glass painting products they had available on their shelves.  I found Gallery Glass and a paint product that was similar, the FolkArt Enamel.
Since I already had a sampling of the enamels, I choose to buy some of the Gallery Glass products to test out.
The first test was to apply samples of the two product lines on a spare piece of plexiglass to see how the products would work on plexiglass, before I applied them to the windows.  I also did a side by side comparison of the two products so I could see how the colors would look on the plexiglass.
 On the left hand side of the plexiglass is the FolkArt Enamel products; on the right is the Gallery Glass product.  As you can see, the Gallery Glass colors look very smooth and vibrant in comparison to the Folk Art Enamels.  I think this is because the Folk art enamels are very thick and need to be applied in layers to get a coverage similar to the Gallery Glass product.  Plus, you can really see all the strokes from the paint brush on the plexiglass.  The Gallery Glass product was applied once and appears to be self leveling which is very helpful when you have uneven surfaces to work with.  The plexiglass on the windows is quite old and pitted, so that would be very helpful.
     
The second test was to see how translucent and/or opaque each product was when holding it up to a light source. The first example is the “Folk Art Enamels” which I painted onto a piece of glass. I decided to test the enamels on the glass to see if that made a difference in how the paint is applied.  The enamels still showed all of the paint strokes and seem to magnify imperfections on the glass and plexiglass.
The enamels look great painted on a glass vase (below) and for decorating a wine bottle.  However, I do not think they would work well for a window treatment.
The Gallery Glass product looks great on the plexiglass and easily covers the surface imperfections (which in this case included old dried on paint, scratches, pits and more).

I also think the since the Gallery Glass is so translucent it makes the colors a bit more vibrant. There was quite a bit of light transmitted through the window (onto the sidewalk and grass) that was painted with the Gallery Glass product.

The third test was to remove the paints from a painted surface.  The enamels had dried for around 2 hours on a 65º day.  The bottle stated that it took from 24 hours to 72 hours for the product to cure.  However, in this case, I had to use one of those white window scrubbers and environmentally-friendly dish washing detergent, to remove the paint from the plexiglass.  Then I removed the bits that remained with a baby wipe.
The Gallery Glass product just peeled right off of the plexiglass and took less than two minutes to remove all of the product off the plexiglass sample.  This was an important test for two reasons.  One is that I live in a beach community that has very strict laws and fines on the disposing of toxic chemicals.  I find that I have to read the ingredients on all of my art and craft supplies because any error on my part can cost upwards of $1000 (not to mention the impact on the environment).  The second reason is that I wanted the option of being able to make changes on the windows without using toxic or damaging materials.
     
Conclusion: I decided that for this particular project that the Gallery Glass products would be the best choice for me to use.
This turned out to be a good decision because after I had painted the roses red like someone had previously, I found out that the “Tudor Rose” was actually a combination of white and red petals.
This particular renaissance faire supposed to take place during the Tudor period, so I needed to correct the color of the roses to reflect the correct time period.  I removed the red color and repainted the roses in the correct color combination.  Thankfully I had used the Gallery Glass product and it did peel off which gave me the opportunity to make the needed changes.  After I finished painting the windows, I sealed the work with an appropriate UV protecting product. The cost of using the Gallery Glass products was far more cost effective than the other glass painting products that I found at the art supply store.  Especially since the UV protecting product alone was over $25 for a two ounce jar and it took two jars to seal both windows properly.

Tips:

  •  Before I started to paint the windows, I had to clean and lightly sand the plexiglass with a special polish to fill in small cracks and scratches.  I could not remove all of the old paint and had to work around it to fix these pieces.  This took quite a bit of extra time but it left me with a better surface to paint on.
  • Test products on a spare surface to be sure you can achieve the results in you have mind.

Pros:

  • Gallery Glass is not permanent, so if at a later time you change your mind or need to make changes you can.
  • Folk Art enamels are permanent and good for projects like drink ware (like wine glasses) and ceramics. Just be sure to only paint surfaces that will not come in contact with your mouth.
  • The Gallery Glass material is self leveling but can also be played with to create different textures on glass and plexiglass surfaces.
  • Gallery Glass is translucent and will allow plenty of light through the painted surface.
  • The Gallery Glass black liquid leading strips and paint were very easy to work with.
  • These are both Plaid products and you can find tutorials and free projects for the Folk Art Enamels and the Gallery Glass on the Plaid website.
Cons:
  • The Folk Art enamels will show up any imperfections, so you need a steady hand to get a good result with a good quality paint brush.  Plaid does sell special paint brushes for this type of paint.  I also found that I could use sponges to paint with the enamels to create a textured effect on ceramic.
  • The Folk Art enamels are very opaque, so keep that in mind when planning a project.  I did not like them for a window but they are fine for ceramics and decorative glassware.
  • Gallery Glass is not permanent, so if the project is going to displayed outdoors, you will need a sealant to protect the project, otherwise it will be affected by the weather and sun.
  • The Gallery Glass liquid leading in silver and gold had a runny texture that made it difficult to work with.  I found that using the black and painting it with outdoor metallic paint (after it had dried) worked better than trying to use the metallic colored liquid leading product.  Then I sealed it with a UV Sealant to further protect it.
  • Removing the Folk Art Enamel product from a surface has to be done quickly (before it cures) and it requires more labor and supplies than the Gallery Glass product.
Have you had similar or different experiences with either of these two products?  We would love to hear about about any experiences, tips or advice you may have for working with glass painting products.
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Maria Del Pinto

Maria Del Pinto

I have been crafting since I was a child and I love seeing what others create. I live near the beach so everything around me inspires me. I also enjoy activities where I re-purpose something old & discarded & make it into something cool. My favorite mantra is "Re-use, recycle, and re-make".

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8 Responses to FolkArt Glass Enamels vs Gallery Glass for Faux Stained Glass Window Project

  1. Avatar
    jackib March 1, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    I love gallery glass! I have a long slim window next to my front door – I didn’t want anyone to be able to look in so I designed a “leaded” window using the clear and it’s just enough to blur their view. I also designed a window in my master bath where I didn’t want to bother with a curtain. I used colors on that one and I love the look! Even though I did these windows 7 years ago, they still look amazing and make me smile!! Great article!

  2. Avatar
    Conniecrafter March 1, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    I haven’t used my gallery glass for a few years but I have always loved working with this product

  3. Avatar
    Ginger March 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    These turned out amazing! I am so inspired to try a project with gallery glass one day. Thanks!

  4. Avatar
    Mark Askew March 16, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I have been entranced by stained glass for over 40 years. Thanks to your blog I now see a way to take up the craft. Thanks so much!

  5. Avatar
    tammy b January 4, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    so timely that you’ve published this one again because i’ve been researching glass paint lately and would love to see your comparisons but, ack! the pictures aren’t available!

    • Avatar
      Nancy Nally January 5, 2013 at 12:20 am #

      Tammy, we are working on it! With 2,000 articles on the Craft Critique website that had to be moved to WordPress, it was a huge task and there were some issues with some of the graphics with the auto import so some are going to have to be moved manually, which will take some time to accomplish with CHA starting next week. Sorry about the delay.

  6. Avatar
    Renay Lausier April 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

    • Avatar
      Nancy Nally April 15, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      There are some issues with images in the archives on the site due to our recent server migration. We are working to resolve them. Thanks.