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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Amanda Discovers Gallery Glass

Hi, meet our new young friend, Amanda, who started glass crafting a few months ago. I got an email from her with some questions and I feel that the answers might be enlightening to some of our readers. Amanda's comments will be in blue and my answers will be in purple.
Here's how we started in this exchange of information.

Amanda wrote, "I saw on your blog a few times something about using a poster frame. I don't really understand. Do you put the paint directly on the glass of a poster frame and then hang it up just like a picture? Does light go through it?"
There is a class of ultra light plastic frames with styrene instead of glass made just for posters. I like them because they are light enough to be held on windows with suction cups. Remove the cardboard backing so that the light can come through and you have an inexpensive surface for GG that comes in standard sizes. WalMart and Michaels have dozens of sizes. Most places that have redi-made picture frames also have poster frames which are much less expensive. Ask for them at your local big box store or search on line. I am especially fond of them for big paintings like the 24"x36" flag picture. I hang it with 2 large suction cups in our office window on patriotic holidays.

About a week later, Amanda emailed, "I am trying to work with an 18x24 poster frame that I got from Joann's. When I took the cardboard backing out, the frame doesn't even fit anymore. It crumbles apart.  I taped it together, but the tape is clearly visible. Plus, if I hung anything using the frame as the support, I think it would just fall apart. So, should I glue the styrene to the outer frame or what should I do?"
I should have warned you about that kind of frame that isn't nailed at the corners. There are several kinds of poster frames--this kind is the least desirable. However, you can make it work-- it came with the styrene in it, you can follow this technique.
1. Clear a large space on a work surface where you can leave your frame for 24 hrs. Remove the covering from both sides of the styrene.
2. Fit the frame around the plastic with the framing pieces front side down on the table.
3. Use the Liquid Leading to "caulk" around the entire perimeter of the frame on the back side-- filling in the gap behind the plastic with leading. Add extra leading at the corners. Fill the "gap" as much as you can.
4. Allow the project to dry overnight and up to 24 hrs. before you move it. 
5. Now you can turn it over and put the pattern behind the frame and lead the design as you normally would.
6. After the paint cures, I would go ahead and melt holes in the top corners of the plastic with a heat tool so that the suction cup hooks won't pull the framing off the plastic when the sun warms the project in the summer.Then over the weekend, I got this email, "I finished my project! It is an 18x24 poster frame. I followed all of your directions and I am extremely happy with the results. There are some parts that aren't perfect, but I think I love it all the more for that. It features the mascot to my school, but I think I would've picked this as a picture regardless of the school I attended. I have always loved medieval and fantasy stories of knights and adventures. When I first saw the inspiration for this, a tile mosaic featuring a knight and a castle, I was blown away by the dramatic impact. However, I still had to change a few details to make it what I wanted, and give it University of Central Florida style. And after seeing a painting in which the mountains were painted purple, I knew I wanted to add that to my piece. I used the Extreme Glitter for parts of the mane and tail, and while you can't really see it in the picture, it looks absolutely spectacular in person!"

Amanda also shared, "I have been looking into selling some of my work because I love it so much (I want to keep making gallery glass stuff but I'm running out of money. I'm a college student). I looked at a local green market website and they stated that I should have all the licensing necessary and such if I want to participate in their market. I don't know anything about that and as I tried to figure it out, I just felt disheartened. I don't want to make this a huge business or anything, I just want to make enough money to keep doing it. Can you tell me a little bit about selling any of your things? Such as how you got started? "

I got started 35 years and Gallery Glass has proven to be a durable hobby. There is still a market for Gallery Glass frameable art--mostly seasonal subjects or personalized plaques, as well as the window overlays that solve people's privacy and light problems. Whatever holiday is coming up, you can sell projects so that people can celebrate it. You can buy styrene sheets on the Internet--just search clear styrene sheets. If you buy a "box" of a size, it is usually cheaper than buying them individually. I always bought 11"x14"s and 16"x20"s. These sizes of project are big enough to look impressive, but small enough to be affordable. I think in your case, I would find a small business that would let you put them in their store on consignment. Doing nameplates for sororities and fraternities is usually easy to arrange. I did hundreds of nameplates when my daughter was an Alpha Chi Omega--for her friends, as gifts. I would feature the crest, or the flower of the seal--highly lucrative work. Because your materials are inexpensive, you can be rewarded about 10 to 1 for your time. For instance, is your cost of a project is $2, you can usually sell it for $20. Here are some really old pictures from my portfolio. The designs are flexible and allow space for names. I used an alphabet and traced the letters on a line, then put them under the glass and traced them on with India ink and a pen staff.  Would I pay to be in a space? No, I would find some way to market my product in a "group" of people that have frequent needs for recognition items - such as sports teams, social clubs, scholastic clubs, etc. The repetition of doing the same type of project over and over is a creatively boring, but it is a good way to realize some profit and pay for supplies that allow you to follow your creative direction--virtually FREE!
"As for other projects, I have nearly completed the cast of Avatar: the Last Airbender. It is a Nickelodeon show, that has already ended, but they were really neat figures based on different forms of martial arts. I also created window clings of the Avengers, Batman, my dog, my friend's jeep, and various sea creatures." 
"My parents told me that they have spent less on this hobby, which has entertained me for about 2 months now and I still have lots of supplies, than they did on one month of piano lessons (which I also loved). So, they are supporting me."
"I just wanted to thank you for all the help  you have given me. Everything worked from your directions, and I created a piece that makes me proud. The best part is that I know that this is just the beginning!"

Youthful tenacity and discerning problem solving combined to create spectacular results. I love the knight. I know that it is basically a logo plaque, but many people would be thrilled to have it hanging in their home. The work is excellent and the project has the earmarks of a glass crafter with YEARS more experience--because she asked questions and then got the answers to solve her problems--instead of giving up. I think Amanda has YEARS of rewarding glass crafting ahead of her. It gets in your blood!



  1. Hey Amanda as a University of Alabama Crimson Tider here just wanted to say...your painting ROCKS...YOU GO GIRL!!!!...I've been doing Gallery Glass for around 15 years and wanted you to know your work is beautiful...keep up the great work and when you do more paintings let us see them on here....again great job!!

  2. Amanda, the knight is inCREDible!! I wanted to add a general FYI that the craft stores also sell the channel-type frames and the separate packet of hardware which provides all the pieces needed to assemble the frame, including the curved metal pieces that are inserted in the corners to hold the glass or styrene in place. I recommend these for glass: they are strong enough to support it, and may also be used for the styrene. One attaches the hanger hardware to the frame anywhere -- the top or sides -- to hang with picture wire or decorative chain. Cindy

  3. Thank you so much everyone! I feel so happy to have all these complements :). It is so nice to have this blog as a place for inspiration, help and guidance, and feedback. Thank you very much. :)--Amanda

    1. Hi Amanda, what I'd really like to know is how you got the horse's hooves so DARK. I've been scratching my head forever on how to get my black blacker. Cindy

    2. The hooves in my picture are copper metallic, so they are not actually black.

  4. I'd like to comment on Cindy's question. There are only 2 blacks in the GG line. They are Charcoal 16018 and Black Onyx 16095. Charcoal is a light gray and Black Onyx is the darkest black possible. However, if you want a really black color--for automobile tires or animal hooves, you can fill the entire space with Liquid Leading. However, it doesn't allow any light to come through.