Looking for a way to create colored glass bottles and mason jars? Why tested two techniques to see which one works best.
A few years back, we profiled a new technique to ‘dye’ clear glass any color. The original maker included instructions that called for mixing acetone (nail polish remover) with Vitrail glass paint. Since posting the profile of the technique, the original how-to has vanished from the internets. We decided to take our own stab at the technique to see if we could replicate the outcome and devise our own how-to.
With some trial and error, we were able to do it…but not without some surprises.
Before we begin, let’s talk about those surprises. The original materials list consisted of clear jars, acetone, and Vitrail glass paint. We tried that glass coloring technique – and we’ll reveal the results. However, another option for dying clear glass is using Vitrail Lightening Medium instead of acetone. In the material list listed below, we’ve included both acetone and the lightening medium. You can decide, after seeing the effect, which you’d rather use to dye glass:
- Clear glass mason jars or bottles to paint
- Plastic straws
- Vitrail glass paint
- Acetone (nail polish remover)
- Vitrail Lightening Medium
We’ll start with the original technique, which utilized acetone.
To begin, make sure your jar is completely clean and dry, both inside and outside. Shake the Vitrail paint to mix well. Dip a plastic straw into the paint and dribble paint inside the jar so it touches only the bottom–NOT the sides of the jar. (The amount of paint you put inside the jar will depend upon the size of the jar, of course, but it’s better to error on the side of a little too much than too little.)
Using another clean straw, draw up some acetone using the finger-over-the-end-of-the-straw trick. Put in about 1/2 as much acetone as paint. Again, ONLY put the acetone at the very bottom of the jar–not on the sides of the jar.
Don’t forget to read Curbly’s Bottle Cutter Shoot-Out to find the perfect cutter for your painted bottles and jars!
Looking for more great ideas? We like this book:
Use another straw to mix the acetone and paint. Mix it WELL.
When the paint and acetone are completely mixed, rotate the jar on its side to swirl the paint, thereby painting the inside of the jar.
First surprise. Acetone does NOT mix with the Vitrail. Now, although this was a complete fail, the outcome is really cool. It looks kind of like a static lava lamp.
Now let’s try the other technique, this time using the Vitrail Lightening Medium.
Again, make sure your jar is completely clean and dry inside. Shake the Vitrail paint to mix well. Dip a plastic straw into the paint and dribble inside the jar so it touches only the bottom–NOT the sides–of the jar. (To repeate: the amount of paint you put inside the jar will depend upon the size of the jar, but it’s better to error on the side of a little too much than too little.)
Using another clean straw, dribble lightening medium into the paint. Remember, ONLY put the lightening medium at the very bottom of the jar–not on the sides of the jar.
Use a straw to mix the lightening medium and paint. Mix it WELL.
When the paint and lightening medium are properly mixed, rotate the jar on its side to swirl the paint, thereby painting the inside of the jar. As you can see from the picture, the lightening medium and paint mix perfectly, as expected. (They are meant to mix after all.) The mixture is much more viscous than the paint/acetone mix, which means the paint will flow slowly, meaning you’ll have to rotate slowly to coat the entire inside of the jar.
When the jar is completely coated with paint, prop it up on a couple of straws so the paint will drip out of the jar completely and help it dry faster.
Colored Glass Techniques – Results
Now let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the techniques. Acetone technique is on the left and lightening medium technique is on the right. Notice the mottled effect of the of the paint/lightening medium? It’s cool, but it’s a far cry from the liquid-y finish of the original post. (How the maker achieved the effect, I have no clue. Mineral spirits, maybe? That will require further investigation best saved for a future how-to.)
OKAY, now for the final test. The original tutorial claimed the Vitrail and acetone combo was waterproof. Sadly, it is not. After letting a jar dry for 48 hours, I poured water into it and let it sit for about an hour–a much shorter time than you’d keep flowers in a vase.
When I poured out the water, this is what happened:
Oops. Now, before we dismiss the fixative property of Vitrail, keep in mind that Vitrail glass paint is WATER-RESISTANT, which, technically speaking, means it’s “able to resist the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely.” That means NO jars that are painted on the INSIDE with either of these techniques using Vitrail glass paint can be used as vases. Sorry folks.
That being said, they’d be lovely for candle holders or simply objets d’art.
Vitrail Glass Paint + Vitrail Lightening Medium=
Vitrail Glass Paint + Acetone=
So there it is. Although we’ve busted a few myths, we still love the options both these techniques provide. (My favorite…the groovy lava lamp effect!)