Adding Color Using Fuse Master Transparent Enamels

Jim Yount

April 27, 2004

These brief notes supplement a presentation to the Pacific Northwest Sandcarver Workshop May 2, 2004.  They describe a process that uses an airbrush to apply colored glass frit to carved glass.  The glass is subsequently fired at a temperature (1175 F) below fire polishing.  It produces an all-glass product with light transparent colors and shading.  The colors are quite durable, and can withstand application of successive layers of photoresist (think plaid!)


Add subtle color transparent solids and shading to fine line glass work, so that the delicate carving is visible without edge lighting

Add clear shading to glass work, so that shadows are simulated as the carved surface fades from frosted to clear

Add color to glass in multiple resist processes, so that color-on-color patterns can be created. 

Things I tried:

Rub ‘n buff and oil pastels.  The oil pastels add interesting color, and seem to side light well.  No way to fade to clear.

Pebeo paints.  Good color, less transparent than I’d like, I had trouble airbrushing this product.

Water based acrylic clear, airbrushed.  Actually, looks pretty good, but not robust enough for successive application of resist.

Oil based acrylic clear (One Shot).  Very good shading, but not robust enough for successive applications of resist.

Urethane based three part automotive acrylic clear.  Very robust, but transitions are not smooth.  Tough cleanup. 

Fused glass (colored and clear glass sheets).  Shading is quite possible, by varying the depth of cut when blasting.  But even the very best fuser will get some bubbles in the interface. 

Fused glass (glass frit to clear).  Granular appearance, even with finest frit.  Might work for more “artsy” look.   Smooth shading difficult to achieve. 

Flashed glass.  Uneven thickness of flashed color layer; possible to shade by controlling blasting depth, but tricky.  Glass is expensive, and difficult to find thick.

Cased glass.  Probably the best solution, but requires cameo carving and source for materials.  Very expensive.  I’ve seen beautiful work from Prague.

Glass enamels.  Best all around choice for my particular goals.  Looks smoothest on uncarved glass, picks up a tiny bit of texture on glass that has already been carved.  Generate shading using airbrush.  Matures at 1175 F, comfortably below fire polishing temperatures. 

Airbrush: I use an Iwata HP C, gravity fed dual action brush.  It is a wonderful choice for using very small quantities of material.

The fuse master approach has an advantage or two:

there is a certain appeal to producing an “all glass” product and

the airbrush is easily cleaned with water.  (cleaning up automotive enamels can be pretty messy, especially if you’re using many different colors).

The colors can be mixed in very small quantities.

And some disadvantages:

you must fire after painting (unfired colors are delicate)

while the colors can be mixed, automotive acrylics have a much broader gamut and variety

You can buy these low temperature transparent glass enamels at Gil Reynold’s “Fusion Headquarters” shop in Newberg Oregon, or on line at:  The specific address for these enamels is:

Tom suggests better prices (more limited selection) here:

Finally, I’ve put some of this on the web at:








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