Paint Your Own Feastware Using Pebeo Porcelaine
Arts Gathering, October 12, A.S. XXXVII (2002)
Senhora Rafaella d'Allemtejo,
Lady Temair of Hawthorne,
Overview: Learn to decorate your own feastware! Students should bring a clean plain 
white ceramic or clear glass feast item (cup, glass, bowl, plate) and photocopies of design ideas. Instructors bringing all supplies, pictures of historic examples, and extra glassware for purchase. Sorry, your works of art will need a day to dry, and then be fired in your home oven, and are not suitable for the evening feast. Cost: $2, class size limit 12.
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We tend to overlook the beautiful work of glass artists in the SCA because of the fragility of glass and the large number of outdoor events. Today we’re going to show you a faux glass painting technique that can be done on all sorts of glass (cheap and expensive) to simulate the enameled glass painting of the 12th-16th centuries. This technique can give new life to old items or produce a new set of feastgear.


According to the Corning Museum of Glass website (, enamel is:

“A vitreous substance made of finely powdered glass colored with metallic oxide and suspended in an oily medium for ease of application with a brush. The medium burns away during firing in a low-temperature muffle kiln (about 965°-1300° F or 500°-700° C). […] Enamels were carefully formulated to ensure that different colors fused at slightly different temperatures. The color that fused at the highest temperature was applied and fired first, and the one that fused at the lowest temperature was added last. By applying the decoration in stages, glassmakers avoided the danger of colors running together and spoiling the design.”

“Enamel decoration was used in the 12th century in the Byzantine Empire, and in the 13th century by Islamic glassmakers. […] The designs include geometric patterns, inscriptions, heraldic emblems, and figures such as horsemen. Enameled beakers and goblets were also made by Venetian glassmakers in the 13th and 14th centuries, probably influenced by Islamic vessels. Designs include bands at the top of the vessel containing an inscription of either religious mottoes or stating the name of the glass painter. Below the inscription band the designs on the beakers found in England include coats of arms or heraldic designs, mythical creatures, religious or robed figures, or horsemen. The enamels are bright blue, green, red, yellow, white, and black. In the 15th century enamel designs remained popular, but developed with a new style. Small dots, horizontal lines, inscriptions, foliate, and scroll designs are often found on Venetian vessels, and gilt was more often applied as a foil background than painted.  Although coloured enamel was still used, many vessels were decorated predominantly with white enamel, and often with gilt. Most beakers appear to be ‘off the shelf’ belonging to a series of similar designs, including some of the heraldic symbols and coats of arms which were probably used as general decoration, rather than personal commissions.” (Tyson: 15, 75)

Items needed for Pebeo Porcelaine painting:
·                     Glass or ceramic item to paint (clean thoroughly before painting with rubbing alcohol)
·                     Paint brushes (these will become dedicated faux glass painting brushes, don’t reuse for scroll work); small and medium round brushes are best. One or two flat brushes for banding may be useful.
·                     Rubbing alcohol
·                     Paper towels
·                     Cotton swabs
·                     Disposable palette (plastic picnic plates)
·                     Pebeo paints (Porcelaine 150 and Vitrea 160 cook at different temps, do not use both kinds of paint on the same piece). Porcelaine 150 is designed for glass, metal, and ceramic. Vitrea 160 is made for glass only. Finished pieces can be used to serve food and beverages. Once dried and baked, the paints are permanent and dishwasher safe. (I don’t recommend painting on eating surfaces but others have done so w/o harm. --RdA)
Techniques of faux enamel painting:
·                     Choose design (see handouts for easy banding patterns to get started).
·                     Transfer design (this is easily done by taping design to inside/underside of a glass piece; rice or beans can also be used to hold design tight to the surface) or freehand design as desired. (I have had good success using the yellow pen for design transfer and then overpainting the line. Once dry/fired any extraneous lines can be removed with an exacto blade).
·                     Apply thin coats of paint (thick paint will need to dry longer and may bubble in the oven)
·                     Brush strokes will spread out a little bit in the oven. Try to spread even thin coats in large painted areas.
·                     If paint is stiff or gloppy, add a drop or two of thinner (white bottle). You can always add more if needed.
·                     Venetian glass painters laid down colors first, then did heavy white outlining which also fixes any small mistakes in the outline of the image. 
·                     Paints of the same family (Porcelaine 150 or Vitrea 160) can be mixed to create new colors. 
Firing your piece (Porcelaine 150):
Let dry for 24 hours.
Plate item in cold oven and set oven at 300 degrees F. When oven reaches 300, bake for 35 minutes. At 35 minutes turn oven off but do not open the oven. Let piece cool down with the oven.
Firing your piece (Vitrea 160):
Let dry for 24 hours.
Plate item in cold oven and set oven at 325 degrees F. When oven reaches 325, bake for 40 minutes. At 40 minutes turn oven off but do not open the oven. Let piece cool down with the oven.

Recommended items:
Davis, Frank. The Country Life Book of Glass. London: Country Life Limited, 1966.
Pictures of enameled and diamond-etched glass thru 20th century. Limited medieval/renaissance pix but good.
Ward, Rachel (ed.) Gilded and enamelled glass from the Middle East. London: British Museum Press, 1998. 
Drool drool drool. $75 new from British Museum. Scholarly study of ME glass. Includes many pix, archeology diagrams, and tables of scientific info.
Tyson, Rachel. Medieval glass vessels found in England, c AD 1200-1500. [CBA Research Report 121]. York: Council for British Archeology, 2000. 
More drool. Scholarly with pictures and redraws of the glass objects and their designs. Very detailed. Catalogue of objects at various museums. On par with Museum of London books.
Other Recommended Reading:


Bezborodov, M.A. Chemie und Technologie der antiken und mittelalterlichen Glaeser. Mainz: von Zabern, 1975.
Borsos, Bela. Glassmaking in Old Hungary. Budapest: Corvina, 1963.
Cummings, Keith. Techniques of Kiln-formed Glass. London: Black. 1997.
Davis, Frank. Continental Glass from Roman to Modern Times. London: Arthur Barker, 1972.
Frothingham, Alice W. Spanish Glass. London: Faber, 1963.
Harden, D.B., K.S. Painter, R.H. Pinder-Wilson and Hugh Tait (eds.) Masterpieces of Glass. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1968.  
Hartshorne, Albert. Antique Drinking Glasses. New York: Brussel, 1968.
Kampfer, Fritz. Glass: a World History. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1966.
Kenyon, G.H. The Glass Industry of the Weald. New York: Kelley, 1967.
Klein, Dan and Ward Lloyd (eds.) The History of Glass. London: Orbis, 1984.
Mariacher, Giovanni. Glass from Antiquity to the Renaissance. London: Hamlyn, 1970.
Marshall, Jo. Glass Source Book. London: Quarto, 1990.
Mehlman, Felice. Phaidon Guide to Glass. Oxford: Phaidon, 1982.
Middlemas, Keith. Continental Coloured Glass. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1971.
Phillips, Phoebe (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Glass. London: Heinemann, 1981.
Schrijver, Elka. Glass and Crystal. Vol. I: Earliest times to 1850. New York: Universe Books, 1964.
Tait, Hugh. The Golden Age of Venetian Glass. London: British Museum, 1979.
Thorpe, W.A. English Glass. London: Black, 1961.
Weiss, Gustav. (Janet Seligman, trans.) The Book of Glass. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1971.
Corning Museum of Glass,
Scanglas AB, Historical Glass,
Swedish reproduction house. Great stuff!