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How to Print on Glass

You can apply print to glass in many different ways.

How to print on glass.

The following is a list of some of the most common types of glass printing.

  • Direct screen printing onto flat glass
  • Sandblast resists
  • Cold Colors
  • Screenprinted transfers
  • Digital prints and films
  • Acid-etching resists
  • Lino-printing and relief
  • Photography
  • Printing from an etching plate onto glass

When it comes to printing onto glass make sure to always take adequate steps to ensure your safety. Many of the printing mediums out there require you to wear a mask or respirator to help insure that you don’t inhale fumes. Also you should always make sure to read the directions carefully when using a new or unfamiliar product.

It might be argued that one of the most popular methods for printing onto glass is screen printing. Popularity contests asside you might find this method of printing onto your glass artwork a good starting point for exploring the creative potential of glass and print.

So how do I use screenprinting to create glass artwork? When it comes to direct screenprinting onto glass there are two main ways the imagery is applied. These are direct printing and transfers. What's the difference? Well with direct screenprinting you put your work straight onto the glass. Transfers on the other hand are printed onto paper and then transferred to the glass by a plastic-like covercoat layer.

When screen printing onto fused glass you either need to buy or make a frame with a mesh stretched over it. This frame can either be either wooden or metal. However, you might be better off with a metal frame as the wood one can warp. So why a mesh? The mesh is important because you apply a design(stencil) onto the screen. Thus when you begin to print onto the glass the ink only passes through the mesh where the stencil is not blocking it from being applied to the glass below. Now there are 2 ways in which you apply the stencil onto the frame – directly or indirectly. Applying a stencil directly involves using a photosensitive emulsion to coat the screen. An indirect stencil on the other hand could be a piece of paper with a design cut out.

The pen is mightier than the sword! That may be true but without the ink it would be useless. The same is true when it comes to certain types of printing on glass. Thus if you don’t have the right ink, then you will soon find yourself up that proverbial river without a you know what. So what kind of ink is the right kind? That’s a good question but first lets back track. As we all know or do not know ink consists of a colorant and a medium. And when it comes to glass you will need a printing medium that burns away while the colorant remains. Therefore your going to need to use a vitrifiable colorant because regular ink will just burn away and you won’t have any image left on your glass when you pull it out of the kiln. The most common colorant used for printing a fixed image onto glass is enamel. Enamels are low firing glass frits containing metallic oxides and you can purchase enamels for glass printing in either powder or paste form.

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