I've always loved glass, especially stained glass. I haven't wanted to learn the actual art of cutting and foiling glass, but I've been thinking about ways to create a stained-glass effect without those techniques for decades. I also, given my incredible gift for killing houseplants, have developed a large collection of glass decorative pieces; the light shifting and changing in a wine bottle full of marbles, or a piece of volcanic obsidian, or a vintage telescope lens, looks almost like life, but marbles cannot be killed through overwatering or neglect. I have gone to glass museums in Toledo and Chicago, and although I haven't been to the Corning museum in New York, it's on my bucket list. I keep meaning to take a glassblowing course at a local studio, and not making it there.
Over the holidays, I asked my friends: should I clean the house, or should I make art? The resounding answer was "Make the art!" I did; here's the project.
These links go to Amazon, but I don't get referral fees; I highly advise buying art supplies secondhand, at thrift stores or creative reuse centers like Upcycle Parts Shop.
Clear painter's caulk
Clear school glue
Framed piece of clear acrylic (thanks, Upcycle Parts Shop!)
Glitter (also upcycled)
White Elmer's Glue
1) I thought about this for thirty years.
2) I tried other strategies and failed. I talked to Home Depot clerks at length. I worked at a paint store. I read a bunch of books about Louis Comfort Tiffany and women artisans and William Morris and opioids. I went to a museum and half drowned myself in the Apostles of Beauty exhibit. I worked at a church that had a Chagall exhibit. I read some Raymond Chandler. I read about the purpose of cathedrals, and the effects of centuries of smoke, and architects' fantastic egos. I visited the Kraft family's Baptist church for an architectural tour and a Bach concert and enjoyed both, even though the concert was delivered via a boom box and the lecture focused very heavily on the Bach family's influence on Baptist theology.
3) I talked myself into making art, instead of doing housework. Thanks, Facebook friends, for reinforcing this healthy practice!
1) Since it's easier to make fine lines with caulk when it's warm and thin and runny, I heated the caulk in the heating pad for half an hour while I set everything up on the table in my living room. I wish I'd waited at least an hour, but eh, patience, not my thing.
2) I drew mostly random lines on the acrylic. I had planned to make a six-section rainbow pattern, so I marked six equal sections on the frame of the window, and then connected those pencil markings with straight and curved lines.
3) I let the caulk dry (half an hour).
4) This is where we get into color theory from elementary school: I wanted to be tidy, mixing, so I started with the lightest color (yellow) and worked into deeper colors from there. I didn't end up using all of the food coloring in this pack, but I did use about half a bottle of each color to make a cup or so of colored glue.
5) I poured the colored clear glue into each section, trying not to let the same color be next to itself in two neighboring sections. I hit a snag here: I used up my 32-ounce bottle of clear glue about halfway through. So I mixed the blue and green into white glue, which dried opaque. That's not what I intended, but I like the way it turned out.
6) I let it dry for three or four days. The glue spread as it dried, and leaked through the cracks in the caulk. I was nervous that it would turn into a big black smudge (as has happened before), but the caulk kept it from blending too much or too quickly. Note: it dripped everywhere and this frame is not glue-tight. I put a grocery bag under the leaky corner, and stuck my hatrack over the glue puddle on the hardwood floor of my living room, so that my tiny dog, Cha Cha, couldn't walk through the yellow glue and track it everywhere. Once it dried, I was able to just peel the glue off the floor, but it left a bit of a yellow mark. So if you're houseproud (or sensible, or slightly less lazy than I am), maybe do this project in the art studio or the garage or the basement or put down newspaper or something.
7) I mixed metallic glitter with clear glue and filled in the empty spaces. I knew I was going to install this window in my upstairs reading nook, which is lit by sunshine from outside as well as by an electric light inside, but since the glitter is opaque, I wanted to keep it thinly mixed, to let the light through. If it were solid glitter, it would block the light entirely and make a shadow. You can see the streaks left by my paintbrush, which I didn't plan for, but I think it looks okay anyway. Note on glitter: microplastics are super bad for the environment. I buy all of my glitter secondhand, at thrift stores or creative reuse centers, and I'm only providing the Amazon link so you can see it's the fine powdery glitter, not the coarse sequin-y kind. I haven't tried the biodegradable glitter yet, but if I ever bought glitter new, that's what I would buy. Second note: this required googling Leonard Cohen; I don't know how I ever made art without the Internet at my fingertips.
8) I let it dry.
9) I propped it in the window in my reading nook. Note: if this were glass, I would recommend hanging it on hooks or a chain, but since it's acrylic, it's not too heavy. Also, I paint in this room sometimes, so I need to be able to get more light and ventilation easily; this is secured with a tension rod so I can remove it if I need to. The photo below has not been filtered or edited; it was taken on a December morning around 10:00 a.m.. The second-story window faces west, and it changes color and brightness as the tree outside goes into and out of leaf, as well as throughout the day.