Introduction: Stained Glass Made of Candy
This is an entry in the
Science of Cooking
I recently went to an exhibit featuring Tiffany Glass. I was enthralled by the beauty of the stained glass lamps, and it made me want to do a craft using stained glass. Since glass is a difficult medium to work with, I decided to use candy instead. I was very pleased with my results; the candy actually looks like stained glass. There are a few downsides--namely, candy is not a very durable material, and it can be sticky--but overall an inexpensive and beautiful craft project with so many opportunities to get creative.
Following are instructions for making a lamp, a stained glass window, and a candle holder.
Step 1: Choose Which Types of Glass to Make
Molten glass is a difficult substance to work with, and it turns out that candy is a little difficult as well. Before you start, you'll want to decide what color and texture of candy you want, and if you want swirls in it. It works best to only make one glass type per batch, since the candy cools quickly.
- For a solid colored glass, stir the food coloring into the saucepan of candy. Pour into the baking sheet.
- For jewels, drip small dots and circles onto the baking sheet.
- If you would like to add swirls to either clear or solid colored glass, drop 3-4 drops onto the surface of the glass in the baking sheet. Swirl with a butter knife and let cool. For some texture, swirl the candy when it is sticky and very thick.
- If you would like a textured, more opaque glass, knead the candy using buttered forks as soon as you have it poured onto the baking sheet. Be very mindful at this point. You want to stop kneading and get it flattened out before the candy gets too hard to work with.
- For a bumpy look, sprinkle sugar on the candy and melt the sugar with a kitchen blow torch after it has cooled. (Maybe not worth it, but blow torches are always fun, if you have one. You could also try sea salt, the larger chunks could have a cool effect.)
Step 2: Make the Candy
Butter a baking sheet thoroughly, or use a heat-proof silicone baking sheet (works really well).
You can use any hard candy recipe. I used this one: Add 2 cups of sugar, 2/3 cup of corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of water to a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring frequently, until it comes to a full boil. Let it cook without stirring, dripping candy into a bowl of cold water occasionally until the candy drips are hard enough to snap (hard ball stage). Take the candy off the heat and immediately add a couple drops of flavoring (if you plan to eat some of the candy) and food coloring. Stir.
Pour the candy onto the baking sheet and swirl or texture as desired. (Be careful, it's hot.)
Step 3: Break Into Pieces
Hard candy behaves similarly to glass. Score it with a knife and snap with your hands. This is easier with thinner pieces of candy. Be careful, as the candy can cut you. I found it was difficult to get pieces to precisely the shape I wanted, so I let the glass crack how it wanted to and then created the design based on what I had.
Do not get the candy wet, as it will be eternally sticky afterwards.
Step 4: Make a Lamp
Buy yourself a big clear bowl. I got a plastic one from the dollar store.
Plan your design. If you leave your project and come back later, be careful not to leave pieces of candy touching for extended periods of time, or they will fuse together. You will also want to watch that the dust from cutting the candy doesn't get all over the nicely cut pieces, or it will fuse on as well.
Make some candy glue. I used uncolored candy that I cooked to the soft ball stage. It makes surprisingly good glue, if you cook it the right amount. If you cook it to the hard ball stage, as for the glass, it will cool too quickly to work with. If you don't cook it enough, it won't bond as hard. Just cook it until when you drip it in cold water it will stay in a ball but is still pliable.
Glue your design onto the bowl. I found the best way is to paint the glass piece with the candy, then stick it on. Leave the glue in the hot saucepan, and work quickly. You can warm the candy up again if it gets too thick to spread.
Step 5: Finish the Lamp
When your design is glued on, test it out over your lamp base. You may decide to cover the inside of the bowl with white tissue paper to diffuse the light. The first two pictures are without the tissue paper.
Use an LED bulb in your lamp base so that the lampshade won't get too hot.
Find a safe place away from ants and children to put your lamp. Do not lick, unless you are really craving sugar. :) I'm sure you could cover it with some sort of lacquer to preserve it, but I haven't tried. If you do, let me know how it goes in the comments!
Step 6: Stained Glass Window
I used Tootsie Rolls to stick this mini window together. I warmed them up in the sun/microwave and rolled them out into thin snakes.
The candy needs something sturdy to be attached to. I used a clear plate here, but I plan to use the glass from an old picture frame to make a larger window. I'll use candy glue in addition to the Tootsie Rolls to be sure it stays in place.
Step 7: Candle Holder
I glued the glass to the outside of a mason jar using the candy glue I described in the lamp section. I didn't have a problem with the candle heating up the candy.
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