This weekend, I had so much fun getting crafty and experimenting yet again with back-painted glass. And this time, my experiment ended with something that I can and will actually use — marbleized back-painted glass end tables for my living room!
It started when I was just playing around with my living room, trying different furniture arrangements, and decided to bring back the metal and glass end tables that I got a year ago from Overstock. Remember those? Out of the box, they looked like this (after being assembled, that is):
And then I decided that I didn’t like the black, so I painted the one table that was assembled with gold spray paint.
And then I decided not to use them at all. So for a year now, I’ve had one gold end table stashed in the sunroom, along with another end table that was still in the box that had not yet been assembled.
So I decided to get those out and try them again in the living room. I headed to Michael’s to get more Design Master gold spray paint, but they were out. I had to get antique gold instead. That turned out to be a happy accident because the antique gold has more of a weightier look to it, which I prefer.
But after painting them, I still wasn’t satisfied with the tables. It finally dawned on me that I didn’t like the glass. So I brainstormed a few options. I could use wood, but that would take the look in the opposite direction I wanted. I could have some marble remnants cut for it, but they would be too thick since the glass pieces are only 3/16″ thick and fit down inside the metal frame.
Then I remembered…back-painted glass! I decided not to use it for my kitchen backsplash since I could never get it to look just right, but this would be a perfect opportunity to give it another try!
And try, I did. Again, and again, and again, and again. I painted, scraped off, and painted again about fourteen times before I finally got the hang of it. I still have three more to scrape off and do over for the second end table. But this process is so fun to me that I don’t even mind! 😀
So I’ll start at the very beginning and take you through all of the main iterations that I went through on this process. These first ones didn’t work out for me, but you might see something that sparks a creative thought in your mind, and it could be the beginning of an amazing project for you.
Originally, I started out thinking I wanted to use teal and green. I used Folk Art Multi-Purpose craft paint (from Michael’s — our Hobby Lobby doesn’t carry this). It’s made for use on various surfaces, including glass, and takes 21 days to air cure. Starting with the teal, I squirted out some squiggly likes onto the back of the glass.
I used a 1-inch craft brush to brush those out, and then I did the same thing with the green. I tried to intertwine the two colors.
You can see that it wasn’t perfectly smooth. I did leave some areas built up with paint.
I waited until the thin areas of paint were dry, and the built-up areas were still wet, and then I added white. I placed large amounts of white at the top and the bottom of the piece glass.
And then I used my 2-inch Purdy paint brush to brush the white paint all over the back of the glass. After that, it looked like this on the front.
Definitely not a good look. So using my 2-inch Purdy paint brush, and with the glass standing on edge so that I could reach the back while looking at the front, I used my brush to dab the paint from the back. As I did that, the paint started to move, separate, blend, etc. It was really fascinating to watch! You can see on this next picture that the top right corner and some down the right side has been done.
And here’s what it looked like after I did the whole thing…
The back was kind of messy,so I just put it in the sun to dry completely.
I thought that was a good start, but I didn’t really like the thin “strings” of paint. So on the next one, I decided to do some wider areas of paint, and intertwine the two colors much more. I started with the teal.
And then added the green.
I waited until the thinner areas of paint were dry, and the built-up edges of paint were still wet before adding the white paint. And this time, I also decided that I needed more white paint, so I squirted it all over the back and then brushed it over the back. I liked this process much better.
Here’s how it looked after I brushed the white over the back.
Then I stood it up on edge and this is what I had.
So once again, I used my 2-inch Purdy brush to dab, move, blend, etc. I tried to be somewhat controlled and deliberate about this process, although the control is only about 50% up to me and my brush, and about 50% up to the paint and whatever it decided to do. That’s what makes this process so fun to me. I think you could start out with two pieces of glass with the same paint design on them, and still end up with two very different pieces of glass.
So here’s how that one looked when I was finished.
I liked it much better, but I still wasn’t really excited about it. I didn’t blend enough, and I left way too many lines still intact. Also, since I was using dark colors, they were getting mixed with the white and becoming lighter…obviously. It doesn’t really show in the picture above, but the glass from a distance actually looked aqua overall. I didn’t want aqua tables in my living room.
So on the next try, I decided to use metallic paint instead. I used Martha Stewart metallic craft paints. These are also specified for use on glass, but I’m not sure how long they take to cure. And again, I did wide, random areas of color, and tried to intertwine the colors as much as possible.
I liked the metallic much better than the colors, but again I just wasn’t blending enough. I ended up with “fingers” of color on a white background.
So I tried again…
And by the way, this is what your brush needs to look like while working on the back of the glass. If it’s a Purdy, it’ll survive the abuse.
This one was a little better, but I still had “fingers” of color.
So on my third attempt with metallics, I decided to really go for it. First, I covered almost all of the glass with paint, leaving only just a few small areas clear. And I really, really intertwined the colors, connecting the areas so that there were no “stripes” of clear (which would end up white) going all the way from one side of the glass to the other.
And then when it came to the dabbing, blending, moving, separating with the brush, I really did quite a bit.
And BINGO! That was the winning combo! No “fingers” of color, and no stripes of white. I loved it.
And I absolutely love how these look up close. It’s just so fun to watch and see what the paint will do as you move the brush around on the back of the glass.
So using that same technique, I did another one. On this one, I used a bit too much silver on the top right for my taste, but I still like it.
I especially like this area on the bottom left.
So that’s how the process came about. It’s so much fun to do!
Again, the keys (at least when using metallics) are:
1. Cover almost all of the back with paint, leaving only just a few small areas of clear, unpainted glass.
2. Intertwine the colors as much as possible, connecting the areas so that there are no “stripes” of clear/white going from one side of the glass to the other.
3. Wait until the thinner areas of paint are dry, and the built-up areas of paint are still wet before adding the white.
4. Use lots of white. Don’t be stingy with it at all. The more, the better.
5. Dab, blend, move the paint quite a bit, especially on the areas where the two colors (in this case, the gold and silver) are right against each other, so that you’re not left with “fingers” of color on the final piece.
6. Make sure you have plenty of paint on your brush. After covering the back of the glass with the white, do not remove any paint from the brush. Keep it completely loaded to do the dabbing and blending. If your brush isn’t loaded with paint, it’ll start pulling paint off of the glass. You might even need extra white paint on the side so that you can add paint of you see your brush start pulling paint off of the glass.
7. Have fun and experiment! Remember, it’s glass, so if you mess up, you can easily scrape it off and start over again. But do not wait long to scrape it off. When using these paints that are made to be used on multi-surfaces and can be used on glass, if you wait too long (even 24 hours) the scraping becomes much more difficult.
8. If you get paint on the sides and front of the glass (which you will, without a doubt), wait until the back is completely dry before scraping off the sides and front with a razor blade.
After the paint was completely dry, I gave each of them a coat of Rust-Oleum white primer so that any small areas that were left without any paint on them would be covered in white.
I love how this table turned out.
I don’t know that anyone would actually be fooled into thinking that it’s marble, but I think it looks like a pretty good artistic version of marble!
And once again, here’s the before and after: