Alright, I know; times running out to get all the gifts done… This is a what I call a ‘cheater’ type of DIY. When you want to give something that is ‘One-of-a-kind’ but that involved! Make your own custom painted ornaments with this tutorial; How to paint on Glass Christmas Ornaments.
Why Paint on a Glass Ornament?
Well, the reason I embarked on this was a funny story. Ever since my trip I was still enamoured with Heidelberg! Coincidently a movie called A Heidelberg Holiday recently came out! An artisan runs into problems selling her glass ornaments in the Christmas Market in Heidelberg.
It’s quite the crazy funny story but on that theme I wanted to gift my family handmade glass ornaments based on that recent trip that we all took together… We all had a blast and this would be a great memory piece! How amazing to see the town in the movie and I would make ornaments for each! I would be ‘Heidi Heidleberg’!
Sure, I’d love to do some glass blowing (it’s on my list) but that will have to wait. However, for now, I did marvel at how hand-blown balls are available at local shops – perfect! (online as well) They are handmade and some are quite large (like a softball) There are also craft stores that sell quite inexpensive clear glass balls. I do like the uniqueness of handmade ones.
Since I will be adding some type I chose the ones with light tones and swirls. Just be aware of the contrast of the colour against your images or type.
As an alternative that is even more inexpensive you can squirt/pour paint into the hollow types of clear glass ornaments that have an open top (take off the ornament caps/top). Tilt & swirl the paint around to cover the inside. and then drain out the excess.
What Paint to use on Glass:
When I dreamed up this project I knew that I could not use acrylic paint. At first I thought I’d use some enamel paint like nail polish. But then I remembered having made faux stained glass art many decades ago. I had even used some clear paint on my cabinet windows to make it look like old bubble glass. It is still there over 20 years later with no issue!
This Pebeo Vitrail paint is made for painting on glass. It is not water based, but needs a mineral spirit for cleaning or thinning. I used a the glossy Turquoise and also the warm gold colour. This paint dries slower than nail polish. In the test that I did I did notice that nail polish as not as opaque as this glass paint.
How to transfer the image:
As with many creative projects you need a way of getting the line-work onto the object. That is a similar challenge here but it is also not flat, so that is a even more difficult. The good thing about this is that it is glass, as glass can be cleaned easily.
To pre-draw my designs on the ornament I used a Sharpie in a colour close to the paint colour. The great thing is that the lines can be erased if not perfect with a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol or even some of that leftover hand sanitizer since it s also made of alcohol.
How to Design the image:
To plan the letters of the design there are many choices of fonts that have some handwritten type script. Using some software on the computer I try a few fonts. My plan was adding ‘Heidelberg Holiday ’23’ to each ball. I doodled with some extra curls and loops until I was happy.
Here’s a tip; if you are worried about it not looking perfect, do not try to BE perfect! Choose a style and font that has some forgiveness. If there’s a bit of discrepancy then it won’t be so noticeable.
Painting the Design:
Now that the design is transferred it now a matter of following the lines with paint. Yes, I often hold my breath when I am trying to steady my hand for smooth strokes with a fine paintbrush. Choose a brush with a good sharp tip and try to work with the arc of your hand. If things do not work out, or any drips, it is easy to wipe away any mistakes with a bit of mineral spirits on paper towel. (I like to use orange scented mineral spirits) The Mineral spirits will not wipe away the Sharpie lines.
Add some added embellishment:
Add whatever you like but try to keep it simple! At first I had thought about adding some drawing but decided against it. Instead I just added a bit of line-work along the characters. It is essentially a bit of a shadow on the lower side of the blue lines. ‘Again I did not want to make it too contrived as then it would be more difficult.
The original ribbon is replaced with a nicer one, add a bow if you like.
Presentation is always Important!
One thing I learned in Art college; ‘presentation’ makes all the difference! Who doesn’t like when there’s a lot of attention to small details?! I love the idea of sealing wax but the glitter glue stick works as well!
There are so many types of stamps available! So much fun to be had…
How to paint on Glass Christmas Ornaments
- Fine paintbrushes
- Sharpie Marker (colour similar to paint)
- Glass Ball Ornament (handblown preferred)
- Pebeo Vitrail Paint for Glass (in desired colours)
- Mineral Spirits
- Paper Towels
- Paper Tags (optional)
- Sealing Stamp & wax stick (optional)
- Rubbing Alcohol or Hand Sanitizer (alcohol type)
- Decide on Design/Theme
- Pre-plan Use of font/type or image
- Rough draw Images/type on Glass with Sharpie. Repair as needed by wiping away errors with alcohol
- Follow design painting with Pebeo Vitrail Paint Fix errors by wiping with mineral spirits
- Once completed, let dry for 24 hours or more until not tacky.
- Add hanging Ribbon & Tag
Hand-made with Love:
The Heidelberg theme came all together! I am quite happy with the results and it’s one of my ‘faves’ for Christmas gifts and decorations!
They may not all be exactly the same but that is the charm! I’m so tired of digitally reproduced art. I am also grateful for the fact that I can use the hand-blown ornaments. I know this design will not be appropriate for you but try to find something image or quote that will bring some happiness to your loved ones.
Some of these are so big they may be a bit large to hang in a tree. Since they are transparent they will look pretty amongst light and garlands.
A collection of these glass ball ornaments will make beautiful holiday decor, not to mention if there’s some emotional connection! Love it – make your own for those you love!