Craft Activity: Making Stained Glass Windows

Craft Activity: Making Stained Glass Windows



Stained-glass windows have been admired for their utility and beauty since ancient Rome, when pieces of colored glass were assembled into patterned window frames. In Europe, the art of stained glass reached its height between 1150 and 1500, when magnificent windows were created for great cathedrals.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has an exhibit of stained glass. The history they give:

Most of what is known about medieval stained-glass making comes from a twelfth-century German monk who called himself Theophilus. An artist and metalworker himself, Theophilus described in his text, On Diverse Arts, how he carefully studied glaziers and glass painters at work in order to provide detailed directions for creating windows of “inestimable beauty.”

The basic ingredients for making glass are sand and wood ash (potash). The mixture is melted into liquid which, when cooled, becomes glass. To color the glass, certain powdered metals are added to the mixture while the glass is still molten. Molten glass can be blown into a sausage shape, then slit on the side before being flattened into a sheet; it can also be spun with a pontil iron into a round sheet (crown). A window’s pictorial image is created by arranging the different pieces of colored glass over the design drawn on a piece of board. If fine details such as shadows or outlines are required, the artist paints them on the glass with black paint.

To assemble the window, pieces of colored and painted glass are laid out on the design board, with the edges of each piece fitted into H-shaped strips of lead (cames). These cames are soldered to one another so that the panel is secure. When a panel is completed, putty is inserted between the glass and the lead cames for waterproofing. The entire composition is then stabilized with an iron frame (armature) and mounted in the window.

While most of us do not have the tools for making stained glass today (although artists continue this practice), we can create our own mock stained glass windows with children. The Middle Ages for Kids has numerous stories and And if you church has stained glass windows – take a tour with your class and discover the stories that they tell!

How to Create “Stained Glass” Windows

Method #1

Supplies: brown paper bags, baby oil, cotton balls, newspaper, crayons

  1. Cover table with newspaper for protection
  2. Cut paper bags to lie flat and cut to appropriate size or shape desired.
  3. Soak cotton ball with baby oil and rub over the entire surface of the brown paper shape.
  4. Draw a picture with crayons, bearing down hard so a strong image is produced
  5. Re-oil when necessary to keep paper wet.
  6. Hang in a window when complete.

Method #2

Supplies: wax paper cut into squares or shapes (2 per project), crayons (pieces or shavings), iron, newspaper, scissors, black construction paper, glue

  1. Cover table with newspaper.
  2. Place crayon shavings on one piece of wax paper, creating a design
  3. Cover shavings with second piece of wax paper.
  4. Press with a warm iron (adult supervision needed).
  5. Cut black strips of paper to frame (front and back) the wax shape, glue into place.
  6. Hang in a window when complete.


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