Gold and Palladium Lusters on Glass
Lusters are a ceramic product used to add precious metal accents to porcelain or china (think the gold rim on plates). However, they can also be used on glass. Today we’re adding Gold and Palladium polka dots to already fused donuts, and painting some donuts with Mother of Pearl luster.
- Wear a respirator with VAPOR filters. The essence and the lusters themselves contain powerful solvents that are very bad for you to breathe.
- Wear gloves, ditto with the solvents, bad for your skin as well.
- The solvents are volatile, so it’s a good idea to seal up all of the used paper towels or whatnot in a plastic bag before throwing them away to contain the fumes.
- Check with the luster manufacturer about food safety if you are making functional ware, it’s better to be safe than sorry!!
It is very easy to cross contaminate your lusters, so I recommend making a kit for each individual luster that contains a dedicated paint brush, a dedicated bottle of Essence (solvent) and an extra bottle to use for brush washing. Keep each luster kit separate to prevent cross contamination.
To apply lusters:
Shake the bottle to make sure the color is thoroughly mixed. If the luster is thick and gooey, add ONE DROP of essence and mix again. If it’s still gooey, add ONE DROP of essence and mix again. Over thinning is not really a problem you can fix, so avoid it.
Dip your brush tip into the luster and paint it onto the glass. One coat only, try to make it even. Mother of Pearl can be applied in swirls to give more visual interest, or as a smooth coat.
After painting, try to get as much luster out of the brush and back into the bottle as possible. Wash the brush in the extra bottle with Essence in it so you don’t contaminate all of the Essence with washed out luster.
Glass can be fired as soon as the luster is dry.
Gold Luster comes in a tiny 2 gram bottle, is quite expensive (around $28US) and can be purchased at most ceramic supply stores. The luster is red before firing, so don’t be surprised when your glass looks odd!
After firing they look like this (firing schedule at the end of the article).
Palladium luster fires to a bright silver or white gold color. This luster also comes in a tiny 2g bottle, and is about the same price as the gold. It is a molasses brown color before firing.
And after firing (firing schedule at end of the article)
Mother of Pearl Luster
One of my favorite lusters, Mother of Pearl gives an iridized, oil slick kind of color to glass. It is considerably less expensive, around $8 US for a 1/2 oz bottle. This luster is cobalt blue in color before firing:
Since this is a quite translucent luster, I’m painting the entire donut instead of just dots:
And after firing:
Lusters fire to cone 020 according the the manufacturer, that translates to 1180F if you look at a cone temperature conversion chart. (Cone is the measurement used in ceramics firing. It isn’t really relevant for glass without converting it to temperature. Visit my favorite cone temperature conversion chart.)
I used this firing schedule:
250/hr to 500, hold 10
300/hr to 1100 hold 5
off and cool to room temperature
This firing schedule works great for small pieces. Since we are firing the glass to just above annealing temperature, for larger pieces, such as whole bottles, votives, etc. it is a good idea to add in an annealing stop. This would be a good starting point:
250/hr to 500, hold 10
300/hr to 1100 hold 5
50/hr to 1060 hold 30
100/hr to 740, then off
Please TEST before you paint on an entire tiny bottle of gold!
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- Use glass bottles for brush washing or holding Essence! The solvents will dissolve plastic, and flood your workbench causing an immediate need for evacuation until the fumes are gone (trust me on this one, not an experience you want to duplicate!)
- Natural hair brushes work best
- The luster is only as good as your glass, it does NOT act as a over spray, if you paint it on wrinkly glass, you’ll get wrinkly luster.
- The firing temperature is very low, so this should be the very last step in making your glass art.
- TEST! Test glass colors with different lusters, and test firing schedules before doing a big project.
- Float and Bottle Glass Firing Schedules
- Bottle Glass Fusing Tutorials
- Problem Solving
- Fusing With Mica
- Float (Window) Glass Fusing Tutorials
- Kiln Formed Bead Tutorials
- Bottle Bottom Mold Tutorials
- Kiln Carving Tutorials
- Fusing With Inclusions Tutorials
- Casting with Bottle/Float Glass
- Fusing Other Glass Tutorials
- Glass Tools and Related Articles
- Compatibility and Technical Issues
- Studio Safety