Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Applying Silver Stains

Contrary to its name, silver stain actually stains the glass yellow. Silver stain is available in shades from pale yellow to deep orange. Today the use of silver stain remains a popular choice for the glass painter with no other pigment matching its delicacy and wholly translucent quality. Silver stain is composed of silver nitrate and gamboge gum, a resin from Southeast Asian trees. It is sold in powdered form and is mixed only with water. A separate set of tools is required for silver stains as the stain itself is terribly corrosive to brushes and other tools.

To use, the artist mixes the powdered stain on a glass palette to a thin consistency. This can either be applied thinly in a free-hand manner to the back side of the glass painting, or applied and quickly blended to smoothness with a badger blender for a more even result. Always apply the silver stain to the back side of the glass - in other words, the opposite side from the one that bears the tracery and matting you have previously completed. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is that the silver stain will metallise the black and brown paint work during firing if applied to the same side. This metallising results in a strong bluish and opaque haze on the tracing and matting.

During application, be sure to work rapidly and evenly, finishing before the wet stain has a chance to completely dry. Also remove the excess stain while the stain is still damp. Scraping off the run-over will prove to be quite a challenge if you let it dry. When you have completed these steps, immediately wash your tools.