GeekMom Holiday Traditions: Crafting “Stained Glass” Windows

One of the best things about being a teacher is being able to share your hobbies with your class. As someone who loves to make and create, I always make sure that some type of artistic project is included. One of my favourite holiday traditions during December is to spend some time with my class creating Christmas/winter themed artwork. We’ve made baubles of every type, gift boxes, decorated biscuits, and a host of other projects. My favorite project however is my “stained glass windows.” I make them every year to decorate our classroom. These are really popular with the kids and look especially festive. They’re easy for children to design and create, as well as simple to make in a variety of designs and sizes. I normally make them big enough to fill an entire window with up to six children collaborating on each one!

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Here are some of the designs I’ve made with my class. Each design is over 1.5m (5 feet) tall! © Helen Barker

This year I’m on maternity leave, so instead of creating large projects at school, my 4-year-old helped me to design and make a decoration for our window at home. Here’s what we did, so that you can make your own, too.

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This is the equipment that you will need to create your own stained glass style window decorations. © Helen Barker

You will need:

  • PVA glue (white glue)
  • Paint brushes for gluing
  • Cling film (plastic wrap)
  • Masking tape
  • Tissue paper in a variety of colors
  • Plain paper
  • Permanent marker (a thick one is best)
  • Piece of cardboard
  • Empty yogurt pots (for putting the glue and torn paper in)

Step 1:

Draw a simple design onto a piece of paper. If you feel artistically challenged, you can download and print my tree, snowman or stocking designs (these are all sized for A4/letter paper). If you are using lettering or text, make sure to write backwards, as you are going to be turning the design over when you have finished.

Step 2:

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Here the design is taped down onto the piece of card. © Helen Barker

Tape your design onto a piece of cardboard. If you haven’t got cardboard, you can stick the design onto a table, but I find cardboard more convenient because I can move the whole thing out of the way while the design dries.

Step 3:

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Here the design is wrapped and ready to glue. © Helen Barker

Wrap your piece of cardboard in two layers of cling film, and tape the cling film down on the back to keep it in place. The cling film doesn’t need to be completely flat, but it does need to be fairly taut.

Step 4:

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Here the design has been drawn in permanent marker. © Helen Barker

Draw your design again, using the permanent marker. This is a good opportunity to mend any mistakes in your design!

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Step 5:

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My daughter helped me prepare the tissue paper. © Helen Barker

Decide what colors you are going to use for your design, and tear your tissue paper into small pieces. The more intricate your design is, the smaller your pieces of paper will need to be. I like to put the pieces of paper into empty yogurt pots to keep them organized and stop them from blowing off the table.

Step 6:

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My daughter enjoyed glueing the pieces of tissue paper down. © Helen Barker

Use slightly watered down PVA glue to stick the tissue paper down, overlapping the pieces. I like to put a little bit of glue onto the plastic first, before placing the paper down. Dab glue gently on top: if you brush too hard the paper will move. I like to work around the edge of the area first and then fill in the middle. You can overlap the permanent marker lines a little. Once it’s complete, leave your design overnight to dry.

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The completed design is ready to dry. © Helen Barker

Step 7:

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The design after it has been cut from the cardboard and turned over. © Helen Barker

Cut the design free from the cardboard, turn over, display in a suitable window, and admire!

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The completed project! © Helen Barker