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How to Make a Paper Stained Glass Window Transparency Suncatcher

Updated on April 26, 2013
How to make a faux stained glass window transparency.
How to make a faux stained glass window transparency. | Source

What are Window Transparencies?

Growing up, my cousins always seemed to create the coolest things. Cards, gifts, wrapping paper, and decorations were always handmade at their house. Window transparencies were one of the ways they would decorate. Window transparencies look like faux stained glass, but they are made from paper. This makes them must faster, less expensive, and they are faster, and safer to create! They are just as beautiful as stained glass, though, and perfectly kid-friendly. You can make them for any time of year - transparency stars are particularly beautiful at Christmas and the bright colors are well-suited to spring and summer, too.

I like using the matte finish Mod Podge for this project.

Supplies Needed for a Faux Stained Glass Suncatcher

Chances are good you already have everything you need to make a window transparency right at home! You need:

  • Two sheets of paper, poster board, or cardstock.
  • Tissue paper - bright colors are more fun!
  • Mod Podge or white glue.
  • Scissors.
  • A paintbrush.

Design your Suncatcher

The first thing you must do is design your suncatcher. You can make one in basically any shape at all. I chose to draw a flower that's sort of a mix between a lotus and a pond lily flower, but you can pick whatever you would like. You are more than welcome to save the scan of my drawing shown below and print it out for your own personal use. You can also use a stencil, draw something freehand, or print a piece of clip art from your computer or the Internet. I do not recommend anything with lots of tiny detail because it won't show up well - choose an image with clear, long lines for best results.

To make your transparency more durable, draw or print your design on poster board or card stock. I used a pale green card stock for one side of my frame and white card stock for the other side for demonstration purposes, but you can use any combination of colors you would like.

Flower template.
Flower template. | Source

Create the Frame

After drawing or printing your design of choice, cut it out carefully.

Cut out flower.
Cut out flower. | Source

Next, turn the design into a frame by cutting it out again. You can either retrace the design 1/2"-1" inside the original, or you can just freehand it with scissors. I had no trouble skipping straight to the cutting without redrawing the design.

If you make the frame thinner than .5", it may become unstable and difficult to work with. If you make it more than 1", it can quickly become too bulky and cause your design to loose detail.

Flower frame.
Flower frame. | Source

After you have one side of your frame cut, trace the inside and outside of the design on a second sheet of card stock or poster board. After tracing the design, cut out the second side of your frame.

Tracing the frame.
Tracing the frame. | Source

After your frames are ready, cut a piece of lightly-colored tissue paper so it is slightly larger than your design. It doesn't matter if the paper sticks out a little - you can trim it down later. After you have your sheet of tissue paper ready, carefully coat one side of one frame with a layer of Mod Podge and press it in place on the tissue paper, as shown below.

Coating the frame with Mod Podge
Coating the frame with Mod Podge | Source
Frame in place on the tissue paper.
Frame in place on the tissue paper.

If you want to make several transparencies, it may be easier to buy pre-cut tissue paper.

Create the Faux Stained Glass

Now you're ready to get creating! Cut or rip your colorful tissue papers into pieces. You can make the pieces as large or small as you'd like, but I find pieces that are about 1" square work best for me. I cut about three dozen pieces for my design, but you may need more or less, depending on how big your pieces and actual frame are.

You can coat the individual squares with Mod Podge, but tissue paper is fragile. I prefer to coat the tissue paper frame backing, instead. Use a foam brush or your fingers to coat a patch of the backing and carefully smooth a tissue square in place. Repeat this process, adding extra Mod Podge on parts of previously-applied tissue squares as needed, until your frame is full!

It is somewhat tempting to just coat the entire thing with Mod Podge and then apply all the squares, but this does not work well. Unless your frame has only straight sides and right angles, the tissue pieces will need to overlap at some point, and I like making my pieces overlap for extra color. This means you need to work one piece at a time.

Getting started.
Getting started. | Source

Finishing the Window Transparency

For added durability, I suggest applying one final coat of Mod Podge to the transparency's entire surface to make sure all the little pieces of tissue paper are held in place. Whether you chose to do this or not, make sure to allow the transparency time to dry before your proceed. You don't want to accidentally glue it to your window!

After everything is dry, coat one side of your second frame piece with Mod Podge and position it on top of your creation. You should create a sort of tissue paper sandwich with the decorated layer of paper protected between the two parts of the frame.

Mod Podge-ing the second frame piece
Mod Podge-ing the second frame piece | Source
The transparency sandwich.
The transparency sandwich. | Source

To make sure everything stays flat and dries in place, press the transparency until it is dry. I suggest using a cookie sheet or baking tray with a couple of books on top. Don't just put the books straight on the transparency because they may become glued in place! Metal is much easier to pull free from a bit of Mod Podge than your favorite book.

After everything is dry, cut any excess tissue paper away, use clear tape to place it in a window, and enjoy.

Suncatcher in the window.
Suncatcher in the window. | Source

Faux Stained Glass

Window transparencies are a great quick, easy, and inexpensive way to decorate for any occasion. Basically any simple design can be turned in to a window transparency, so there's no need to limit yourself to my basic flower! Some of the best window transparencies I've seen included:

  • A shamrock
  • An Easter egg
  • A cross (great for several different occasions!)
  • A star
  • A leaf
  • A pumpkin
  • A Christmas tree

The possibilities are pretty much endless, and storing your transparency flat inside a book, folder, or notebook makes it easy to reuse the same transparency year after year.

Have you ever made a window transparency before? Have you even seen a window transparency before? What other great designs can you think of?


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    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! I hope you enjoy. =)

    • thefedorows profile image


      5 years ago from the Midwest

      Great tutorial! Going to do this next week to make fall decorations of leaves and pumpkins! Will be a fun project.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, Rajan Jolly and mr-veg! I appreciate the stopping by, commenting, and the sharing. I love waking up in the morning to supportive comments =)

    • mr-veg profile image


      6 years ago from Colorado United States

      Nice artistic touch Natasha !! something new to learn !!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      This is a great craft idea and looks so cool. It is as close to the real thing as possible.

      Awesome and shared.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for sharing! I love crafts that work any time of the year and, you're right, this one really does.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      This is a cool hub and it looks like this would be an awesome kids' craft project for ANY holiday or just for fun. :D Voted up and shared.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I hope y'all have fun! Please let me know of you have any questions or encounter spots where you think my instructions could be more clear.

    • DIYmommy profile image


      6 years ago

      This looks like a fun project! I can't wait to do something like this with my son.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I hope you enjoy it in the future! It's pretty darn kid friendly an inexpensive enough it doesn't matter if they mess up the first few times.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I love this stained glass effect! I have never made a window transparency myself, but I'm sure that I will make this with kids someday. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by, jocent and preweb! I love this craft because it's so inexpensive to make. You can make an entire house's worth of them for less than the price of lunch!

    • preweb profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      such a beautiful creative art...

    • jocent profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this, I will teach my daughter how to do this because she's the one who is very artistic in the family. I know she will use this idea in decorating her room.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! You're probably the first person since kindergarten to say anything even vaguely related to me drawing is 'pretty.' I'm creative in other ways, but I really can't draw! But, anyway. I hope you and your kids enjoy it.

    • The Unlearner profile image


      6 years ago from Isle of Wight UK

      Such a pretty little lotus flower. I love it, and it is something my children can make too. Well done.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      First again!

      Thank you. I hadn't thought of them in years until the other day they suddenly popped in my mind and wouldn't leave me alone, so here they are.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are so clever. Never in a million years would I have though to do that. Very cool, Natasha!


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