This is a project that I've started doing with my 3rd graders at school to relate to their study of the Ancient Roman Empire (I'm an art teacher).
So here's how we made our stained glass mosaic (we donate the window to our P.T.A.'s silent auction to help raise money for our school's P.T.A.).
First, you need to find an old window with the glass still in in it. Ours was donated by a parent but I found last years window at Canton (a trader's village of sorts in TX) for $5. I cleaned the window with soap, water, and Lysol. Then I taped it off and painted it with white acrylic paint.
Because the window itself was so old and imperfect, I chose to sand it, to add to the distressed feel.
Here's my sander. I love that it has a little basket to catch the dust (well, most of it).
Next, I made up my design (I cut 6 pieces of paper to fit the glass). I drew it in pencil first and then traced it with Sharpie.
Tape each piece to whichever side you're going to use as the front.
Now flip it over, you can see the design through the thin paper because I outlined it with Sharpie. Use the same Sharpie and trace the design on the back (you will eventually use Windex to clean the Sharpie off of the back side).
Now flip it back to the front side....you're ready to add glass.
Now let's talk glass....
I had taken stained glass classes at Hobby Lobby and had a bunch of glass leftover from that (go ask the Hobby Lobby manager if they would collect the scraps from their classes for you! Especially if you're doing this project for a school or church....it doesn't hurt to ask). Plus, I asked the teacher who used to teach the classes I took there (he now teaches out of his home) if he had any scraps to donate and he had 3 huge buckets full of glass. I also went to this store called Merry-Go-Rounds out in Ft. Worth. They teach stained glass classes there and sell stained glass products and gifts etc. They donated a box of glass.
Now it's time to sort the glass to see what you've got.
To start with, I just divided it into big containers for each color (red, blue, orange, green, yellow, purple, brown, black/white, and clear).
Then I got smaller containers to sort through each color to find like glass shades.
Then I used glass nippers found at Home Depot in the tile section to cut the scraps down into smaller pieces (preferably squares and rectangles).
Here's what those nippers look like. They run about $15 but if you do multiple windows, totally worth it.
Here's the glue I used. It's called MAC glue. It's a little pricey ($13 a bottle) but after trying cheaper ones, it's totally worth it. It dries clear. It's non-toxic (some people use super glue etc.). And it HOLDS really well. I could only find it on-line. Just google MAC glue. I've done about 3 projects using just one bottle.
This was my process for sorting. I did this at school so I had a lot of counter top space.
Choose a place to start. Lay down the glass to see if it will fit.
Put glue on the area. I called one table of kids up at a time to then lay those pieces on the glue. I did a quick demo. to show them to make sure to leave a little space in between.
As far as using colors, I've found that a mixture of opaque (can't see through it) and transparent (can see through it) glass is better.
Also, REPETITION is key. Repeat the same color in each window pane. It will move the eye around the piece.
I also think contrast is a good thing. So think color wheel....colors across the color wheel from each other will make the colors pop (purple/yellow, red/green, blue/orange). And since red and orange are next to each other on the color wheel, the colors opposite of them would work with each other too. So blue/red and orange/green...etc.
After all the glass is glued down, flip it over and use Windex to clean the Sharpie off the back.
Now it's time for my least favorite part of this process....grouting. I used black grout to simulate a real stained glass window, so it's even messier.
Get a good pair of gloves (these are not the ones I normally use...I usually use those rubber kind that are yellow for washing dishes. These I used in a pinch and cut my fingers several times because the gloves get cut on the glass). But definitely use gloves!!!! And get one of these trowels. It really helped get the grout into each little nook and cranny.
You'll need sponges.
At least 2 big buckets (one for mixing the grout and one for rinsing off the grout). If you can get more, do it. It helps the process go a little faster.
Tape off the front of the mosaic.
Here's the grout I used. You can use any color you want, just make sure it's sanded grout.
I just poured a bunch of the powdered grout into a big orange bucket. Added a little water. Stirred with my gloved hand. Added more grout until it was the right consistency.
Maybe a yogurt consistency. To me thicker is better.
Use your hand and layer a little grout in each pane.
Now use the trowel to get into each crack.
Use the trowel to scoop off the excess.
Now fill a big orange bucket up with water. Dip the sponge in. Wring it out. Now you're going to drag the sponge down the first pane (you'll probably get half of the pane done). Now flip over the sponge and run it down the rest of the pane. Dip it in the bucket of water and wring it out. Repeat the process for all 6 panes.
Wait a little bit (in the beginning, maybe 5 minutes). When you see the sand (see above pic) start to rise to the surface, it's time to do it again BUT instead of going from top to bottom on each pane, go LEFT to RIGHT, ACROSS each pane.
Repeat that process. When your glass is pretty clean, and you see less and less sand, it's time to stop. The whole process took me 1 and half hours. I did this without the kids.
Take off the tape and touch up any paint on the frame that got grout on it.
Admire your work in full sun light!
Glorious!!! The kids really loved it. I did too! This is the 2nd year we've done this project and I can't wait to do it again!
In the beginning, you have to invest a little money to buy the buckets,trowel, gloves, sponges, grout, painters tape, glass nippers, window (if someone doesn't donate one) and glass (if you can find donations....you can always buy glass at Hobby Lobby. Use your coupons or wait until it goes on sale). But it raised a lot of money for our school. And a lot of the initial supplies you can use over and over again (buckets, sponges, trowel, gloves, glass nippers). In fact, since this was the 2nd year we did this project, we already had everything except for the window and we got that donated.