How to Make Fake Stained Glass Window Treatments

Written by tanya lee
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How to Make Fake Stained Glass Window Treatments
These beautiful cathedral windows are an inspiration. (stained glass window image by PeteG from

You can create a very convincing fake stained glass work of art using glass paints and a liquid outliner. The outliner imitates the lead used to hold the pieces of stained glass and the paints imitate the stained glass itself. This project takes patience and a steady hand, but the results are well worth the effort. When you are finished you can mount the glass piece in a wood frame to hang in front of a window or you can affix the fake stained glass piece directly to the window or window frame.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Piece of glass with finished edges
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • Cloths
  • Acetone or other solvent
  • Thin latex or rubber gloves
  • Paper
  • Black fine-point marker
  • Coloured pencils
  • Tape
  • Liquid lead
  • Non-water-based glass paints
  • Medium-quality paint brushes
  • Can of spray-on glass varnish

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  1. 1

    Wash the glass using water and liquid dish detergent. Dry it, and using a clean cloth wipe the glass with a solvent such as acetone. It is important to completely remove smudges, dirt, grease, and fingerprints, all of which will interfere with the paint adhering to the glass. Once the glass is clean, handle it only by the edges and wearing thin rubber or latex gloves.

  2. 2

    Draw your design on a sheet of paper exactly the same size as your piece of glass. For your final version, use a black fine-tip marker for the outlines and colour the design with coloured pencils that approximate the colours of your glass paints. Tape the design to the back of the glass. Place the glass on a flat surface where you will not need to move it until the project is complete.

  3. 3

    Outline your design on the glass following the black lines by squeezing liquid lead from the tube onto the glass. (Liquid lead is a water-based material that does not any contain lead.) You might want to practice getting the pressure exactly right on a scrap piece of glass. Work from the top left corner if you are right-handed and the top right corner if you are left-handed to avoid smudging your work. In addition to providing a good imitation of the leading used in genuine stained glass work, the liquid lead forms ridges that will keep each colour of paint where it belongs. Allow the liquid lead to dry thoroughly.

  4. 4

    Fill in the spaces in your design with the colour of glass paint you have indicated on your drawing. You may mix glass paints to make your own colours. Use a separate brush for each colour, dabbing the glass paint around the edges of the section to outline it, and then loading your brush to fill in the centre of the section. Work slowly and carefully in the same way as you did for outlining the design with liquid lead to avoid accidentally smudging the work. Clean your brushes with the solvent recommended for the type of glass paint you are using. Allow the paint to dry.

  5. 5

    Spray on a clear matt or glossy glass varnish according to the manufacturer's directions to finish the project and protect the paint.

Tips and warnings

  • As an alternative to liquid lead, you can use self-adhesive lead strips to make the outline. These are a little more difficult to apply correctly, but they give a more realistic look to the piece.
  • Do not use cheap art-and-crafts paint brushes for this project. They are too stiff and poorly cut to give you a good result.

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