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What works and where to get it, or how to improvise...




  Powdered tempera is a hassle and far less convenient to use than the liquids.

 Those plastic frosting containers with the ready-made cake frosting work better than anything else we have found for painting out of. Not only do they have an ample base so they do not easily tip over, they are deep enough that you need not fill them more than 1/3 and that is enough paint to cover a lot of glass. They are stronger than yogurt containers (which also work great) and like them have a pop off lid. You do not want to store your paint in a screw top container if you use it a lot due to the fact that dried paints will crumble off when you open it. This poses no concern if it falls inside your cup, as it will hydrate before you begin working but it may limit where you are able to open your container.



Most of our window painting designs are painted with a 2'' wooden handled poly-brush. The best ones say POLY-BRUSH on the handle, are made by JEN and have a black foam applicator. (Never buy the orange handled plastic ones as they have weaker foam that renders them almost useless for window painting.) There is a look alike brand with a wooden handle without any writing on it, which is of a somewhat lesser density than what you're after, these however will work though they lack a certain crispness. Poly- brushes are readily available at any hardware store and usually cost about a half a dollar.



We use a Mack squirrel hair dagger striper size 00. If not a Mack you can surely pick up something very like it in your area if you check around (prices range from $6:00 to $10.00). Essentially you are looking for a 2'' tip that you can drag on glass to execute loops and so forth with (swiftly). You will need to thin your paint when working with this brush or it will drag slower and tend to skip. Play around with this neat tool (for a couple of minutes) and you will be greatly rewarded by having at your fingertips the gracefulness of a line that can be finely drawn quickly. You can pick up a mack sword striper size 00, from Dick Blick Art by clicking on the link and typing mack in the search, at least take a look at it if you are unacquainted and plan to make a purchase from a local vender and try to get something as close as you can ( can make your striper from road kill.) A few Mack Distributors can be found at;



We use a product called "Santa's Ice Crystals" because it is so quick and convenient. A can of this product will go a long ways and costs only two or three dollars. The spray is readily available in stores over the holidays, it will spray, and it keeps on spraying. This product will give you a lot of value for your money, because its effect is one of a work of valuable art. It looks like the fingerprint of Old Man Winter himself; it's the same as having Jack Frost painting for you. Ice crystals are sometimes called window frosting or the technique is referred to as frosting windows. While “ice crystals” are not difficult to wash from glass they need to be removed and not just wiped around, remnant traces will replay across the glass otherwise.(A word of caution, do not spray Santa’s ice crystals on plastics such as Plexiglas as it may disrupt the surface face.) You can order Santa's ice crystals from the maker.


    * When you get paint on your "ice crystals" they will melt to an extent, and if you paint on them while they are wet they may run streaking your colours. Let your "ice crystals" dry before painting, once dry it's O.K. for you to get your paint into it a bit around the edges.

    * Frost crystals will not withstand condensation and its crystalline formation will be lost if it gets wet. It is not for use in bathrooms or anywhere it would encounter direct moisture. (Do not use it on windows that fog!)

    * Canned ice crystals can be frozen and remain perfectly useable. The spray nozzle can freeze up quickly and you will need to run the can under hot water before you will get it to work again as crystals will remain in the barrel until they are melted so don't throw your can away, its not defective it just crystallized. We have used hundreds of cans of spray, and we have never encountered one with a defect.

    * The "Santa's Ice Crystals" can is almost identical to the "Santa's Frost" can, make sure you don't end up with the frost if you want a crystal splay which will refract light, as the "Santa's Frost" will create a dull acid etch effect. Unless melted or washed away these ice crystal effects will last for years on windows, I have been surprised to find my old paintings on mirrors that I had painted five years ago. Needless to say they are even prettier on mirror.


      Homemade Ice Crystal Recipe

      MAKE ICE CRYSTALS OR WINDOW FROSTING BY MIXING EPSON SALT AND STALE BEER. Play around with the ratios (as much salt as you can melt in the beer); homemade ice crystals are as lovely on glass as the spray can variety, they will take longer to dry and are more drippy to use but that may not be a disadvantage for you to work with.



      Permanent ice crystals are also available for mirror and Stained Glass effects. You can purchase permanent crystal paints from; Very strong odor but true crystal effects, must have ventilation to use. Should not be painted in rooms that will be in use the next few days, this will eat the latex paint off your window sill if you get some on it. Comes with two copies of product specks...(So you can have one on the job, for OSHA)




      Use white graphite paper to carbon/transfer detailed letters or designs onto glass or dark backgrounds as it shows up better than darker colors, available in large sheets for about a buck. 



This little instrument is used for the perforation of paper patterns. It's something one might use if they were doing mass transfers of a pattern, or transferring a pattern on to a rough surface where carbon would fail. The pounce wheel is pretty much the same as that little wheel used by dressmakers for marking fabric, both are pencil sized with a little spiked wheel that rolls at their base. The beauty of this tool is that once you have perforated your pattern you need only to tape it in place and rub over your "holes" with a little cloth sack of powered chalk, which will leave a dotted pattern.



To find out more about signage visit


In general paints are forgiving, I know of an old European house painter that mixes oils with acrylics, while it is a quick way to use up leftovers it's a mess to clean the brushes. The guy's a pro with a number of employees; I mention this because most painting contractors would shudder and tell you that you couldn't do that but the truth is that you could do it if you wanted to. There are a lot of things you could do that would have interesting consequences… Just don't ever use a lacquer over an acrylic or it will lift and bump up, changed forever while taking a long time to dry. This consequence holds true for spray can users whether they are working with colours or a clear application of spray.


There is such a thing as REAL SIGN PAINT FOR WINDOWS AND BOARD SIGNS, which is produced by several manufacturers such as 'One Shot'. Usually purchased in small cans a little goes a long way (available in water base now I hear). It is made for lettering and will paint on any surface. You can substitute an oil-based alkyd if you need to for lettering and of course you may use it for your background. If you have only worked with temperas or acrylics this will be something very different indeed. This is in the realm of another medium not only in the effect created but also from the field of working in it. This is gloss. You can order One Shot and many other sign painting materials online from Dick Blick. They also carry lettering brushes and will educate you to some extent about paints. (Yes it is possible to use exterior acrylics for outdoor signage applications.)



# This is true of both window and board signs unless your letters are big! The lid off an aerosol paint can is perfect for holding sign paint for most lettering jobs. The inner circle of the lid will hold your paint while the outer circle holds paint thinner, which will be necessary for thinning the paint while you are working. And again let me assure you that sign paint goes a long way towards lettering, the job may not take near as much paint as you might have supposed.