Ever wanted to make one of those vintage stained glass windows you see in old homes? Well, fake it ‘til you make it with faux stained glass!
Being in Catholic school for the better part of my young life, I have become exceedingly familiar with stained glass and the beauty it holds. I’ve spent many hours looking at the dazzling colors, completely ignoring whatever the priest was yapping about at the time (mom if you’re reading this, sorry!! I tried to focus I promise!). On a side note, seriously though, try getting any 7 year old to sit quietly for more than an hour without getting distracted...I might have a tiny problem focusing. What was I saying? Oh right! It was so much fun admiring the light shining through the windows and seeing all the colors it made, like a beautiful churchy rainbow of amazingness. Because of those experiences, I have developed a deep appreciation for stained glass!
I was at a garage sale the other day and picked up the cutest little wood-panel stained glass window for about 5 bucks (after haggling of course... I can’t pass up a good deal and price tags are more of a “suggestion” than anything). It’s now hanging in my room and I am absolutely in love with it. It’s the perfect old-timey addition to my room and was just the look I was going for! After my purchase I thought to myself, how hard would it be to actually make one of these? So I buckled down and did my research and found a solution! Faux stained glass! Eureka!! I am the Einstein of DIY stained glass! Well...maybe more like his lesser known cousin or something...Lil’ Stein.
Today, I’m not only going to give you a quick tutorial on how to do this wonderfully amazing and perfectly brilliant project, but I’m going to throw a few ideas in there too on how you can achieve the same rustic look as my vintage garage sale stained glass! But not so fast!! First, I’m going to give you some background on stained glass to provide you with some inspiration in case you decide to try this DIY for yourself! You know how much I love my history lessons. Just call me professor Lil’ Stein. Don’t worry! It’ll be interesting. I promise! 🙂
The history of stained glass actually begins around a thousand years ago when the pieces were exclusively used for churches and mosques. Back then, glassmakers achieved these beautiful colors by mixing metallic salts during the manufacturing process. Not only are these pieces beautiful, but they capture a pictorial history that many times would not have survived the generations. What kinds of things would you want to capture forever in stained glass? Below are some downright beautiful examples of stained glass that you can use for inspiration for your next piece:
Oh this? Just a transept rose from Chartres Cathedral in France, built between 1194 and 1250. No biggie. It’s not like this cathedral stained glass is an absolutely irreplaceable and priceless work of art or anything. The church is actually considered one of the best and well-preserved examples of French Gothic architecture, and is the last of at least five previous houses of worship to exist on that site since the 4th-century. Pretty cool, huh?
Going back to my Chicago roots, architect Frank Lloyd Wright is a dude I’m pretty familiar with. He made a name for himself in the world of architecture as well as stained glass with his unique, geometric designs. If you’re from up north, especially Chicagoland area, chances are you’re familiar with some of his designs already! His style ranged from the simplistically geometric to full on art deco. The picture above is one of his more advanced works, but I assure you there are many simpler designs that exist. Frank’s work has inspired artists all across the world so what’s stopping you from giving it a shot too!?
We’re reaching the end of our history lesson, aren’t you excited?? Art nouveau, as an artistic style, exploded onto the scene at the very beginning of the 20th-century. If you’re a fan of the art nouveau style, the artists who basically invented it dabbled in the glass works too! Alphonse Mucha’s art nouveau stained glass works have been described as “explosion of light, colour and activity,” as clearly seen in his work for the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague (shown above).
AND NOW, for your reading pleasure, I present to you, the big shebang, the stained glass TUTORIAL!! Disclaimer: I should probably note that I picked this stained glass DIY from A Beautiful Mess specifically because I’m a very clumsy person and do not do well with sharp objects. It’s sad but true; however, I would like to keep all my fingers intact so that I can hopefully use this thing they call a keyboard in the future. So, without further ado, welcome to the wild world of Faux Stained Glass!
What is faux stained glass you ask? How is this possible?? Basically, faux stained glass is a brilliant alternative to actual stained glass manufacturing that allows you to achieve a similar effect.
Here's a quick rundown of what to do! The first thing you’ll need in order to create your beautiful work of art is to gather up your faux stained glass supplies:
- glass panel, glass from a thrift shop picture frame for example
- lead adhesive strips
- stained glass paint
- backdrop paper
- sharp blade or scissors
- T-square or ruler
- patterns for stained glass (optional)
Step 1: Clean your glass (rubbing alcohol works great) and let it dry. Trace the outline of your glass panel onto your backdrop paper and draw your stained glass design within the confines of that outline with your marker.
Via A Beautiful Mess
Step 2: Place the glass back over your design so that it is clearly visible, and then cover the lines with sized-to-fit lead strips cut by your blade or scissors. Alternatively, you may also use liquid leading or liquid glass stain to outline if you’re going for a freehand design. (This should take about 6-8 hours to fully dry.)
Via A Beautiful Mess
Step 3: Outline the inside of each of your lead strips with glass paint. Once that is completed, fill in the gaps of your leading outlines with any window glass paint of your choosing. Be sure to give the fresh paint adequate time to dry as well.
Via A Beautiful Mess
And BOOM!! You have your first faux stained glass art completed, hopefully the first of many more to come! Look at you accomplishing things and stuff. Note: This tutorial was adapted from A Beautiful Mess. Check out their page for more pictures and helpful tips about the process!
But wait Mary Beth, you told us there would be rustic accents? We came for the RUSTIC!! A simple way to give that rustic touch to your fabulous new faux stained glass panels is by taking some pieces of scrap wood (or the original frame you borrowed the glass from) and placing it around the border of your new stained glass. Then what you're going to want to do is paint the frame whatever color you like. Before the paint dries (emphasis on the before) you need to take some tape, gently place it on the painted frame, and peel it back. This will give the frame a time-worn “lost in a barn by your great great great gold prospector ancestor for hundreds of years” type look. You know, rustic. I’ve done this before with an old mirror frame and it turned out beautifully.
To wrap things up, inspiration for your faux stained glass windows can come from artists throughout history and even your own imagination. When I was a kid I spent every summer visiting my grandma in Chicago and she would take me to visit the museums downtown, which I grew to love over time. There's a little nook on one of the upper levels of Chicago’s Field Museum where you can see a stained glass image of a mermaid. They call her the Tiffany Mermaid and the image of that amazing work of art has stayed with me all these years. That’s exactly the kind of impact stained glass as an art can have on those who view it. Maybe one day I’ll graduate to cutting actual glass, I can tell you today is definitely not that day so fake stained glass will suit me just fine!
Do you have any ideas for what you would create out of faux stained glass? Feel free to comment below with your wonderful stained glass ideas and be sure to share this post with your friends!
**Featured image via Aunt Peaches