DIY Faux Stained Glass

How to make a faux stained glass panel.Stained glass isn’t just for cathedral windows or Irish pub windows. It’s also for plain ol’ windows in normal folks’ homes, like mine! I’ve discovered that lots of cities have places where you can actually learn how to make authentic stained glass, but I wanted to see if I could get a similar look using glass paint and metal strips.

I love the way my faux stained glass panel turned out, but I did learn a few techniques for achieving the best results. Check out my process below and learn how to make your own faux stained glass look even prettier than mine!

How to make a faux stained glass panel.Supplies:
-glass panel (You can have a glass shop make one to fit your window or else remove glass from an unused picture frame if you don’t need it to be a specific size.)
lead adhesive strips (I used the entire package for this window.)
glass paint (I preferred the consistency of the Gallery Glass brand to Martha Stewart.)
craft paper
-marker
-sharp blade or scissors (I ended up preferring scissors)
t-square or ruler

How to make a faux stained glass panel.Step One: Lay out your backdrop paper and trace the outline of your glass panel. If you are using a t-square, make sure the glass panel is square with your table before tracing. Then design your stained glass pattern with marker lines.

How to make a faux stained glass panel.Step Two: Lay the glass panel over the lines you made with the marker. Cover the lines with the lead strips that you cut to size with sharp scissors. I cut my pieces a bit longer than what I needed and then cut away tiny bits of the end until it fit perfectly. Use a stylus to press the metal strips into place. (The lead strips I used came with a stylus.)

Step Three: Outline the inside of each section of the design with glass paint. Be very careful to keep the line straight and go all the way up to the edge of the lead strips.

How to make a faux stained glass panel.Step Four: Fill in the outlined area with a thick layer of paint, and use the tip of your bottle to spread the paint around. To prevent bubbles and to smooth out the texture, use glass brushes instead of the tip of your bottle. I didn’t use glass brushes and had trouble with the texture of my paint showing in the final product. If you get bubbles, use a tooth pick or needle to pop them.

Step Five: Fill in all of the sections of your design with paint, working so that your arm will not accidentally get into freshly painted sections. You may wish to take your time and do random sections across the glass and wait for the paint to dry before doing another round of random sections. That’s what I did, and it saved my sanity from having to paint so many sections in one sitting!

How to make a faux stained glass panel.Advice for the best outcome:

Use the best glass paint. I liked the runnier consistency of the Gallery Glass paint to the thicker Martha Stewart paint, but if you do decide on Martha Stewart glass paint for the color selection, be sure to select the liquid fill paint, not the gloss or frost paint. It smooths out better.

Apply thick coats of paint. Don’t try to skimp on your paint, as I did in a few of my sections. I was running out of paint and didn’t want to take another trip to the store to buy another bottle. Thicker paint will settle nicely and give less of a textural design in the finish as the light shines through and highlights your brush strokes.

Finish off the joints of your metal strips. Something I didn’t do with my panel is to dab pewter glass outliner onto the joints to give a more realistic finish to the leaded strips. This will also fill in any gaps where your lead strips may have been ever so slightly too short. This is an added expense, but will give an added air of authenticity to your faux glass panel.

How to make a faux stained glass panel.I bought mirror hanging hardware to mount this panel in my kitchen window, but I didn’t end up having a wide enough mounting surface in my window trim to use the hardware, but the window trim along my window sill did provide a nice ledge to lean the panel against my existing window. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect hardware to secure the panel in place, but for now it’s sitting pretty right here behind my kitchen sink giving me some much needed privacy next to the front door of our house. There are lots of affordable stained glass panels made by artists (this one is so cool) and you can use this method to add stained glass effects easily as well…have fun! –Mandi

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DIY Faux Stained Glass

How to make a faux stained glass

Author Mandi Johnson

Ingredients

  • glass panel (You can have a glass shop make one to fit your window or else remove glass from an unused picture frame if you don’t need it to be a specific size.)
  • lead adhesive strips (I used the entire package for this window.)
  • glass paint (I preferred the consistency of the Gallery Glass brand to Martha Stewart.)
  • backdrop paper
  • marker
  • scissors
  • t-square or ruler

Instructions

  1. Lay out your backdrop paper and trace the outline of your glass panel. If you are using a t-square, make sure the glass panel is square with your table before tracing. Then design your stained glass pattern with marker lines.

  2. Lay the glass panel over the lines you made with the marker. Cover the lines with the lead strips that you cut to size with sharp scissors. I cut my pieces a bit longer than what I needed and then cut away tiny bits of the end until it fit perfectly. Use a stylus to press the metal strips into place. (The lead strips I used came with a stylus.)

  3. Outline the inside of each section of the design with glass paint. Be very careful to keep the line straight and go all the way up to the edge of the lead strips.

  4. Fill in the outlined area with a thick layer of paint, and use the tip of your bottle to spread the paint around. To prevent bubbles and to smooth out the texture, use glass brushes instead of the tip of your bottle. I didn’t use glass brushes and had trouble with the texture of my paint showing in the final product. If you get bubbles, use a tooth pick or needle to pop them.

  5. Fill in all of the sections of your design with paint, working so that your arm will not accidentally get into freshly painted sections. You may wish to take your time and do random sections across the glass and wait for the paint to dry before doing another round of random sections. That’s what I did, and it saved my sanity from having to paint so many sections in one sitting!

Recipe Notes

Use the best glass paint. I liked the runnier consistency of the Gallery Glass paint to the thicker Martha Stewart paint, but if you do decide on Martha Stewart glass paint for the color selection, be sure to select the liquid fill paint, not the gloss or frost paint. It smooths out better.

Apply thick coats of paint. Don’t try to skimp on your paint, as I did in a few of my sections. I was running out of paint and didn’t want to take another trip to the store to buy another bottle. Thicker paint will settle nicely and give less of a textural design in the finish as the light shines through and highlights your brush strokes.

Finish off the joints of your metal strips. Something I didn’t do with my panel is to dab pewter glass outliner onto the joints to give a more realistic finish to the leaded strips. This will also fill in any gaps where your lead strips may have been ever so slightly too short. This is an added expense, but will give an added air of authenticity to your faux glass panel.

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine from the Signature Collection.

  • I’m wondering , since it’s been a few years now, how the paints have held up? I bought a faux stained glass mini window hanging several years ago. It sits in a sunny south facing window. The paints have slowly started to flake off. Since I’m not the one who made it, I have no idea what products were used. I plan on reading-painting my little window one of these days!

    • I’ve always loved this project, and did it in 2017. The paints faded visibly after about 6 months—it’s been 3 years now, and only the purple has held up. The others are super faint, and the red and yellow discolored as they faded.

  • I am reading this several years behind when it was originally posted! I just wanted to ask (in regards to finding the right mounting hardware) if you thought of look at piano hinges? They are very narrow and quite handy for thin areas. I would imagine you could cement the hinge to the glass. Just a thought/idea!

    Thanks!

  • I love your final project! The design and colors are so cheerful! I may try this on the sidelight next to my front door! Wonderful work!

  • I would never in a million years think of this, but it’s so perfectly stunning. Definitely adding this to my “must try” list!

  • I wanted the same idea to brighten up some windows, but instead of painting on glass, I used clear vinyl bought by the yard at a fabric store, cut to the size of the window. You can used the lead to outline and Pebeo glass paints for vibrant colors. Since the vinyl is flexible, I run it under hot water to soften it and put the completed stained painted vinyl on the window smoothing it firmly with cloth. I was successful selling them at our local farmers’ market for years. Great fun.

    • 5 stars
      I love your idea of using plexiglass instead of glass. You said you made them and then sold them at your local farmers’ market for years. What sizes of plexiglass were your customers’ preferred sizes? What colors did your customers seem to prefer? Did you do mostly geometric designs or floral, etc.? I’m looking for something to make/sell that involves painting and this would be right up my alley. Thank you for any advice you can give me. 🙂

    • THE PROBLEM WITH USING VINYL IS IF IT IS ON THE WINDOW GLASS AND IT IS IN THE SUN, IT WILL EVENTUALLY PEEL OFF BY ITSELF IN THE HEAT AS THE GLASS GETS HOT. THE PAINT MAY NOT HOLD UP UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS. REMEMBER, MOST OF THESE PAINTS ARE MOSTLY ACRYLIC AND YOUR PUTTNG IT ON VINYL, WHICH IS PLASTIC. THAT VINYL WOULD HAVE TO BE PERMANENTLY ATTACHED TO THE WINDOW GLASS, BUT THE HEAT FROM THE SUN COMING THROUGH THE WINDOW WOULD STILL ALTER THE VINYL BY CAUSING IT TO STRETCH WHICH WILL CAUSE THE PAINT TO START TO PEEL. I WOULD TRY SOMETHING ELSE, I THINK, FOR A LONGER LASTING EFFECT.

  • If you’re worried about your skin contact with the lead strips, then an easy solution would be to wear gloves. It would also help keep the oils on your hands from smudging the lead too, so win-win! -Mandi

  • I have always loved the look of stained glass windows, and I’ve always wanted some in my home. I had no idea that I could make it myself, and that it was so cheap and easy! I love how yours turned out, especially the color scheme that you picked out. When I make my own, I’m probably going to do a similar pattern to yours, but use different colors to match my kitchen.

  • This is so cool! But I am concerned about working with lead…Would the lead tape be harmful to work with? I’ve read that you have to be careful and wash everything in contact with it (for example clothes and wash them separate from other clothes). Don’t want to be paranoid, just worried about safety?? Obviously I would wash my hands and it’s not going to come in contact with my mouth so maybe it would be ok.

  • Lead is what is used in traditional stained glass, so it’s the best material to use for a realistic looking faux stained glass. As long as you aren’t licking it or eating food off of it, you should be fine. If you are worried about it getting into your skin, you can wear gloves when applying the strips. -Mandi

  • Hey Mandi!I really loved this painting of yours. I learned this art in my High School but never tried it. After looking at your art, I am definitely going to try this out.

  • I absolutely LOVE this!! It’s the first time I’ve ever wished my ex-council flat didn’t have such large windows or I’d be on this like a shot. I might just paint straight on the windows. God, it’s very tempting . . .

  • This is an awesome project and it looks great. Thank you for the advice about how much paint to use. I like how you can see (in the picture) the effects of using to little paint on the panels you tried to skip on. I don’t actually think it looks bad, it’s just a different look.

    http://ryansallglass.com/window-repair/

  • ohh I love those colourfull windows on all the old houses
    never thought about making faux stained glass windows… I LOVE it thank you for the inspiration 🙂
    I would probably use different colours but never the less 😀 very pretty

  • OK awesome! We have plexiglass in a lot of frames as it’s harder to break (we have a dog who knows not what her tail can do) and it’s a lot lighter to hang on walls. Also pretty easy to cut yourself to get whatever size you need! I’ll give it a try!

  • Absolutely stunning work! It turned out so beautiful and colourful, the texture is also brilliant! You’ve made it look so easy, so I’m definitely gonna try this now. Xx

    THOUGHTS IN TIFFANY BLUE

  • I love it! Can you tell me an approximate cost for this project? I am really wanting to do something like this in my home.

  • That blue/turquoise is gorgeous! So is the magenta. I could see using the glass from a picture frame, maybe 8×11 or so and putting it in a bathroom window hanging from a pair of small chains and hooks. So pretty. I love it!

  • This is an amazing project!! I’m now looking around my apartment and trying to decide where would be the best place to put something like this.

    My mom used glass paint a lot to make gifts for people when I was younger, so this reminds me of her a lot. This would actually be a great gift idea for her – I know she’d love it and it’s a bit sentimental. Thanks Mandi!

    x Kathryn
    Through the Thicket

  • Do you think the leading would work directly on a window? I have a clear bathroom window I have been dying to do gallery glass on to make it opaque and LOVE the look of the leading!!

  • I think it would! I’d just check with the glass paint manufacturer to make sure it’ll adhere to the plexiglass. If anything, I’d think it would adhere even better. But who knows unless you ask. 🙂 -Mani

  • I used the Gallery Glass frost bottle for those squares. In fact, I think I’m going to move this one to our front bathroom and make another panel with the just the frosted glass and one other color of stained glass. -Mandi

  • My panel is very heavy, so I would have to use a zillion of those adhesive strips. The glass is 1/8″ thick. I think I’m just going to get little L brackets to screw into the window frame in case the glass falls forward, though I don’t see it doing that, because it’s leaning at a decent angle. -Mandi

  • i’ve been wanting to do this forever and this tutorial makes me feel maybe confident enough to pull the trigger on it! (not to mention, just, re-excited about the whole concept)

  • This has to be one of my favorite projects to date! I can’t wait to try this when we get our own place again.

  • Beautiful! Maybe 3M strips for hanging? They work great. I think I’ve seen a transparent version?

  • This looks amazing!! I remember seeing something in one of Kirsty Allsop’s tv shows where they cut the glass and soldered it together, which looked far too difficult. But this looks really good. Now I just need to find an excuse to give it a go.

  • Wow, this is beautiful! It definitely looks like real stained glass, and it’s a great way to add some color to a room. Fantastic idea, Mandi 🙂 Your kitchen is looking gorgeous these days.

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

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