Saturday, 30 October 2021

 Glass landscapes…should I use opaque glass, or clear, for my “base” glass?


One has to take into account transparency and opaqueness in glass when creating images I do understand that this may seem obvious to some of you...but sometimes, even obvious basics such as this are not properly anticipated and the end result might be either a pleasant, or a not so pleasant surprise!  

If you produce a landscape on a transparent glass, using a mixture of transparent and opaque frits and embellishments, it might look great up against a window, or with a lamp behind,  but flat on table or on a stand or hung on a wall,  it may look very different.   If you are trying to create distance or depth, then how you deal with the “tones” in a landscape is important – tone being the relative lightness or darkness of a colour.     If you want an area to be light, the sense of depth, or atmosphere,  may change if it looks darker when you shift your piece!  A change in the tone may bring an area forward when you want it to recede, for example – or vice versa. The transparency of an area of glass will be dramatically influenced by where you place the finished piece

   If you work on clear and put a layer of pale opaque behind, or work on a pale opaque, SOME light will penetrate when held against a window, or if it is lit from behind,  but actually, the opaque glass will act as a reasonably stable "light source" for your landscape and will keep the integrity of the colours and tones you’ve created when there is no other light source, much like white watercolour paper “lights up” the washes in a watercolour painting.  This needs to be part of your planning process.


top Image created on white opaque glass, using enamels, frit and stringers.  Photographed on a fairly light ground, with natural daylight hitting the glass from the front.

same piece, on a dark ground, ( light reflections at the top of the piece, from a doorway,  making some of the branches look pale).  But in the main part of the image there is very little difference in tone values.The opaque “ground” stabilises the tones and colours.


        trees image… enamels, and frit, on a streaky glass with a lot of transparent areas;   on the left, against a white wall, photographed with light from the front,( creating a bit of reflection on the surface in places);   on the right, you see it held up to sunlight – so on a windowsill,  it will change very much according to the prevailing light.
 ALSO Notice the change of tone, where my finger is behind, so you can imagine that against a dark surface, such as a dark wall, or a dark mount in a frame, a lot of the image would be lost.

All best anticipated!

Jackie Simmonds

Please note...this information is part of a larger tutorial on working with landscape images, created especially for glass artists who have had little or no art instruction.  Please see more info on my tutorials page on my website:

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