Magazine article Sunset

Stained Glass the Fast Way

Magazine article Sunset

Stained Glass the Fast Way

Article excerpt

Stained glass the fast way

Vibrant, glowing colors from these tissue-paper panels can turn a window into a cheery focal point this holiday season. In the daytime, sunlight through the windows can bathe your home's interior with color; at night, the window becomes a festive beacon for friends.

The window-size panels are easy and fun to make. A family or group of friends can create one in a few hours. You start with a piece of clear plastic and use polyurethane to adhere pieces of precisely cut or loosely torn tissue paper. Your designs can be abstract or realistic. For inspiration, consider a child's drawing, a favorite greeting card, or a wrapping paper design.

Tissue paper in assorted colors offers a rich palette, but the real surprise comes when you overlap the colors. Secondary colors and new shapes appear. Layering the same color adds intensity. Practice with scraps to discover what can happen. When your masterpieces are ready, they'll be lightweight enough that clear doublesided tape can hold them in place. After the holidays, you can roll them up and store them until next year.

Supplies you'll need

We used 4- to 10-mil clear plastic, sometimes called clear vinyl, for the panels. Some fabric stores sell it in 54-inch-wide rolls costing $1.80 to $4 per yard.

As the plastic comes off the roll, it appears clear and relatively free of distortion, but we found that wadding it up and leaving it overnight before using makes it look like antique glass. (Flatten out before starting to work--too heavy wrinkles make it difficult to adhere the tissue.) Buy enough to more than cover the window or door where the panel will go.

Art supply and variety stores sell 20-sheet packs of tissue paper in single or assorted colors for about $3. Each sheet measures about 20 by 30 inches. Assorted packs usually have only one sheet of several colors, though some have light, medium, and dark hues of certain colors. If you want to feature a particular color range, buy several packs and use leftovers to wrap gifts.

You'll also need a yardstick, a roll of newsprint or brown wrapping paper, a pencil, a black felt-tip marker, masking tape, newspapers, 1 pint of satin-finish polyurethane, a 2- or 3-inch paintbrush, scissors or a craft knife, and a roll of double-sided tape.

Design and assembly

Start by measuring the glass area in the window or door. Reproduce it at same size on newsprint or brown paper that is sized at least 1 foot larger that the glass on all sides. Lightly sketch the outline of your design with a pencil; when you're satisfied, go over it with the felt marker. For multipane windows, you can plan one big design and later cut it to fit panes. Lay the plastic over the pattern and cut it to extend about 1 1/2 inches beyond the window's outline. Tape it to the pattern so it won't slide around.

Before you open the polyurethane, be sure to provide adequate ventilation where you're working. Follow precautions on can, and work in old clothes because polyurethane can't be removed from fabric. Further protect the surrounding floor with newspapers.

Cut or tear tissue before you start "gluing,' so you can work fast and avoid getting your hands too sticky. Don't make pieces too small; detailing and color changes come from overlapping. Don't worry about exactly following the pattern --enjoy the random surprises. …

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