Catching Some Rays

Stained Glass Rose Window
Have you ever admired the beauty of sunlight filtering through stained glass windows? The kaleidoscope effects are stunning. Given its otherworldly effects, it is not surprising to find stained glass in churches, royal palaces, and many grand architectural structures all over the world. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a similar experience at home?

Stained Glass Entry
Stained Glass Window Entry
If you are in the market for a new front door, there are many glass pattern options for the doors, sidelights, and transom windows. Because it is labor intensive, stained glass is significantly more expensive.

Glass Painting
Glass Painting
If you happen to be an artist, you could paint your own design on a sheet of glass, with special pigments called stains, which must be fired in a kiln to complete the process. Next it will need a frame to be used as a wall hanging, or metal hardware for hanging it in front of an existing window. It can also be installed in a window frame with a protective layer of glass on the exterior side to protect it from wind and weather.

If you love the look of stained glass, but lack the time and artistic ability, or have budgetary constraints, you still have a few options.

Decorative Window Film
Decorative Window Film
Window films are available through many sources including home improvement stores. As you can see, the film provides the color and patterns of genuine stained glass without the expense. Film also provides privacy, and blocks unsightly views.   Be sure to follow the installation instructions carefully. The most important step is ensuring the glass is free of all dust, dirt and debris. There must be a perfectly smooth surface for the film to adhere properly. Failure to follow these instructions could result in air pockets, bubbles and delaminating (peeling film).

Decorative Window Film
Decorative Window Film
There are two types of window films, which differ by installation. The first adheres to the glass via static cling and the second uses adhesive. The films shown in these two photos are the static cling type. Personally, I prefer static cling film, instead of adhesive, because it’s easy to install and more importantly can be easily removed. The films come in a wide variety of styles, including the more traditional “stained glass” and some very contemporary geometric patterns.

Sunburst Stained Glass Suncatcher
Sunburst Stained Glass Suncatcher
Genuine stained glass requires specialized skills. Due to precise cutting required, sharp glass and metal edges and joint soldering, this process is not suitable for children. There’s an inexpensive alternative, which is an easy, family-friendly project.

How to Make Colorful Acrylic Suncatchers:

Unpainted Suncatchers
Unpainted Suncatchers
These suncatchers look like glass, but are actually clear acrylic with raised black ridges, which create compartments for holding individual stain colors. One big advantage is that the acrylic is not fragile, like glass, so if you accidentally drop one, no harm is done.

Suncatcher Stain Kit
Suncatcher Stain
Some stores sell the stains separately, while others offer kits, which include a suncatcher(s), several stain colors and a paintbrush applicator. When the stains have dried, the surface hardens and the vibrant colors are translucent, just like stained glass.

Suncatcher Stain Application Process
Progress Detail
Using the provided paintbrush, stains are applied one drop at a time. No blending, no special brush strokes and no extra supplies are required. It’s that easy! There are no other steps. Simply let them dry and they’re ready to hang. Below are examples of completed acrylic suncatchers.

Butterfly & Hot Air Balloon Suncatchers
Butterfly & Hot Air Balloon Suncatchers

Balloon Bouquet & Cat Suncatchers
Balloon Bouquet & Cat Suncatchers

Dog & Bluebird Suncatchers
Dog & Bluebird Suncatchers

Tropical Fish & Cardinal Suncatchers
Tropical Fish & Cardinal Suncatchers

Mirror with Applied Suncatchers
Mirror with Applied Suncatchers
Suncatchers can be hung upon windows or mirrors using suction cups on the glass, or hung with ribbons looped over window locks. I purchased two divided mirrors and screwed them together to create the eight-panel wall hanging shown in the photo above. The suncatchers were glued in the center of each square. The mirror allows natural and artificial light to reflect through the suncatchers. Because it resembles a window, I placed it above my stove to give me something pretty to look at while I’m cooking. It can also be hung in an interior room that needs a boost of color along with a “view.”

Anyone can make colorful suncatchers with very little effort, beautiful results, and they make great gifts at a very affordable price.

Happy Crafting!