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How to make stained glass mosaic windows.
I first saw the technique on HGTV about eight years ago. Since then, I've made
a total of 48 windows -- this one is my latest. I finished it in about three days.
I start by picking out a vintage window. And yes. I've collected a lot of windows
from salvage companies and resale shops. This is the stash in my garage.
I'm always on the look out for interesting one pane windows -- all sizes. I like a
shabby, vintage finish. They have more character.
I just have to make sure the glass is secure and solid.
In many cases, I'll recaulk my windows for better stability. Use a scraping tool or putty
knife to remove any loose caulk on the back of your window. Pick up a clear window
caulk from your hardware store and apply a fresh bead of caulk around the back of
your window where the glass and the frame meets. After the new caulk dries
completely, you're ready to clean your window.
Knock off or scrape off any loose paint. Use a scrub brush and dish detergent to
remove any dirt or residue. Let your window then dry completely.
Here's the window I selected for my latest mosaic.
My work space is my kitchen table. (Maybe one day I'll have my own studio.)
For now, it's a good place to work - by a large bay window -- which is essential in
working on glass -- lots of good lighting.
So. Got my window.
Next. Decide on a design.
I get inspiration for my mosaics from lots of different places -- paintings, graphics, even
pillows and coffee mugs.
This is the painting by Shelli Walters that served as an inspiration for this window:
|Original Art by Shelli Walters|
Next. I turn the window over to the backside. That's where I'll draw out my design
using a dry erase marker.
And yes, I draw it free handed. If I have to make an adjustment (and that happens
a lot) I just wipe off the dry erase marker and begin again. When I finish drawing it out,
I sit the window up and make sure I'm happy with the finished design.
Again. This is the back side of the window. I sometimes write in a letter to identify
the color I plan to use in the design. W = white. P = purple. You get the idea.
I've recently started putting some white paper on the front side of the window to help me
see my design my clearly as I'm drawing it out.
Now that my design is drawn, it's time to select the glass.
This is my favorite part. I love to pick out colors that will work well together and have
the brightest impact.
I've got a stash of stained glass as well. And a healthy respect for handling it. So far,
I've never received a bad cut during the completion of 48 windows, put I'm always
I buy much of my glass at Hobby Lobby -- when it's on sale. One sheet may run between
$5-$9.00. For more unique colors, I visit the LEB Studio off Wade Hampton Blvd in
Greenville. They have a ton of glass in lots of beautiful colors.
So, here's the colors I pulled for this window.
And these are the essential tools I use in cutting and breaking the glass.
These are the only tools I use in making my windows.
If I start with a full sheet of glass, I use the clear plastic tool - a glass cutter (right)
to score the glass. Working in a straight line, I run the glass cutter from one end
of the glass to the other to create a very light "score line." Using the yellow handle
tool (the glass breaking pliers) directly on the score line, the glass breaks in a clean line.
The white bottle is glass cutter oil (need to keep the glass cutter well oiled so it cuts
Then I can break the clean line of stained glass into the "triangle mosaic shapes) by using
the black tool - the mosaic cutter. All of these tools can be purchased online or at
If you look closely, you can see that the triangle mosaic shapes fit easily together
to fill the design area. I leave a slight space between each piece and make additional
cuts if I need a special fit.
It may look complicated, but it's not. I apply an area of glue to the window (such as the
single flower and lay the glass directly on top of the glue area.) It's like putting together a
puzzle. The more you do it, the easier and faster it becomes.
You can find the clear silicone glue at Lowes or Walmart.
Now, my window is face up. From this point on, I'm working on the front side of the
window. (Remember, my design is drawn onto the backside of the window with a
dry erase marker. I moved the white paper to the backside of the glass now -- which
makes it easier for me to see my design. I'm gluing the stained glass pieces to the front
side of the window - following the pattern I've created with my dry erase marker.
I mentioned it's my sunniest window. It usually attracts one of my cats. Gus came
by for a visit while I was working.
At this point, I haven't grouted the mosaic - so there's light coming through each piece.
I use a canister of compressed air to blow off the design to make sure it's free of dust
(or cat hair) or any debris before grouting.
To grout the mosaic, I buy a bag of sanded grout from Lowes. The grout mix comes in
a range of colors. For this piece, I'm using a grout color called "straw." I follow the
instructions on the bag of sanded grout and mix it in my kitchen sink with a hand mixer.
(And yes, it's a mixer I've designated for mosaics -- and not for baking!)
When I mix the grout, it will have the consistency of "cake batter."
I pour it directly on my mosaic.
I wear disposable gloves during this part -- and spread the grout over the entire mosaic.
Again, following the grout instructions on the bag, it sits for about 30 minutes -- and
then I scrape off the excess grout with a spatula and a sponge.
The grout adheres to the areas "around" each mosaic piece -- creating the mosaic look.
The next step is the most tedious. After I've removed all of the excess grout with a
sponge, I put the mosaic up in a window to check and make sure the grout has adhered
to all of the hundreds of cracks in the mosaic. If I'm lucky, there's not a lot of patching or
reapplying that has to be done at this point.
These are the sophisticated tools I use for this stage.
The excess grout takes on more of a clay texture once it's been exposed to the air --
so I keep a little on hand to do any repair work -- and use the straight pin or push pin to
clear out any excess glue around the mosaics that keeps the grout from adhering.
Thankfully, with this piece -- the clean up stage didn't take long.
After the grout dries overnight, I'll wipe it clean a final time and add the hardware to hang
the mosaic. I'll screw in a couple of hooks at the top of the window and add a small
chain to hang it in a window or on a porch.
A final personal touch for me is to hand write a verse of scripture on the back of the
window frame -- just a small way for me to honor the true provider of the art I
So. See. Nothing to it.
Who's ready to try one?