Introduction: DIY Faux Leaded Stained Glass Wall Hanging

About: Hey there! I am a long time artist who has had a focus in many aspects. I started with traditional art, moved to 3d and games, and now I make wearable art out of repurposed and upcycled materials.

Awhile ago, I got this idea for this mirror we had hanging on the wall. I wish I had a picture of it before I made it into the leaded glass look, but picture just a plain mirror with this really ugly gold frame. Well, I have been coming up with new things to “spruce up” the apartment and I thought this would be a great start! This tutorial will let you take that old framed artwork you have in the back of the closet, or a mirror into a brand spankin’ new look.

In this tutorial I am using a frame with a see through glass pane that had old artwork in it that I got from Goodwill. In the photos you will also see the mirrored version. (Which I like better personally. It looks great on a wall and the frame took to this tutorial better with its intricate details)

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Things you will need to make this spectacular “makeover” are:

Something that has a frame and a mirror or a pane of glass in it (I am using an ugly framed piece of artwork I found for cheap at the thrift store)
A straight edge

Sharpie Marker

Glue (any regular glue will work)

Spray paint (preferably flat black if you are going to follow to the T)

Metallic Acrylic Paint (I got metallic gunmetal)

Metallic Fabric Paint (Get the black. It looks the most like the lead)

Aluminum Foil


Window cleaner

Paper towels

Paint brush

Drop cloth of some sort for spray painting

Step 2: Prep Your Frame

The first thing you want to do after you have gathered all of your supplies, is take the glass/mirror out of the frame and set it aside. If you picked an ugly piece of artwork like I did, you can just chuck the artwork as well as the cardboard or mats that might have also been in the frame.

Put down a protective sheet or some paper or something in a VENTILATED AREA to paint the first coat of the frame. I used an old beach towel I use for a drop cloth when painting. (Doing this outside would be preferable, but remember not to do it on a high pollen count day or where there is a lot of dust particulate in the air. You don’t want that to stick to your paint job.) Then spray paint it and get as much of the surface as you can. Don’t worry about covering it completely right now because we can always revisit it after it dries. Also don’t worry about the back of the frame, for obvious reasons.

Once you have your frame coated as much as you can get right now, let it dry.

OPTIONAL: If you don’t like the look of the frames I did, here are a couple of other options you could search on Instructables for a tutorial. One is a crackled paint look which is SUPER easy to do and one is a distressed paint look, which I have yet to try, but looks as easy as the crackled look.

Step 3: Glass Cleaning and Getting Ready for Step 4

Take your glass or mirror and use your window cleaner and a paper towel and clean the surface. Do both sides of the glass.

Let that dry and then break out your Sharpie and straight edge. For this tutorial I am using my T Square because that way I can square it to the straight edge of the glass.

WARNING! Some math will be needed in this part as your project might be a different dimension than what I am doing. Its not like Calculus or Trig, but just to warn ya :)

My piece of glass I am working with is 20 inches long and 10 inches wide.

Step 4: Measuring and Marking Your Glass Step 1

Now, the first step is to go around the edges of the glass and mark dots as shown at 1 inch from the edge so you can connect them and get the base of the part we will be painting. Once you have those, use the straight edge to connect them all and also make sure you take the lines all the way to the edge of the glass, even though my image here doesn’t show that. I did go back and fix my mistake afterwards.

After that, do the same with a measurement of ¼ an inch from the inside of those lines you just drew. Then connect those, but this time only go to the edge of the first lines, don't go to the glass edge. Also in the corners, you will get little squares, we want to keep this as part of the design.

Step 5: Measuring and Marking Your Glass Step 2

Then what you want to do is measure the length of the big rectangle we drew first and divide it by 4 so we can add the lines on the outer border. Mine was measured at 18 inches, so I put lines at 4.5, 9 and 13.5 inches to mark the next lines. I drew them with my straight edge by lining up the dots on either side to make sure they were directly across from each other.

Next we are going to start working on the interior design of the glass. First, we want to use the lines we just drew as guides to make what I call “guide dots” on the inside of the smaller ¼ inch border. After you have these guide dots, we are going to be using those a lot while we draw out the rest.

Measure an inch from those guide dots on both sides and after you have them marked, use your straight edge and draw lines just from those dots and make sure not to go any further. We want those lines to look “suspended” in the middle.

Step 6: Measuring and Marking Your Glass Continued Again...

After you have those, what is next is to measure and mark an inch from each guide dot on each side of them as pictured. Also in addition, mark an inch from each corner on each side. These are going to be our “criss crosses” in the design.

Once you have those, you will connect them with the tops of the lines in the middle. And the ones on the edges, you will connect them to each other to get out hexagon shapes. Make sure not to connect the guide dots to anything yet.

Now that you have the hexagon shapes, next we want to start working on the rectangles on the interiors of these. So mark an inch below the last dots we drew. This is where you DEFINITELY want to make sure these dots line up perfectly straight or your rectangles will end up crooked. I used my straight edge to make sure they were.

After you have those dots on your glass, you want to do like we did with the last ones, but this time go across the previous lines to the guide dots to create the “criss crosses”. On the corners, you will be connecting them to the corners of the small ¼ inch border.

After that is done, you will be using your straight edge to connect the ends of the last lines we drew to make our small rectangles. Make sure not to draw further than you need to. :)

Step 7: Adding the Aluminum Strip Details...

Next step we want to do is start our aluminum foil border that fits into the ¼ inch border on your glass. So grab your scissors, aluminum foil and glue. We won't need the glue until we have it all measured and cut out, but we might as well grab it now.

First we want to measure how long the ¼ inch border is and how wide it is. We already know how long the sides are since we had to measure that to put in the lines on the outside border. Mine was 18 inches long. But now we need the width of the top and bottom of the border. Mine is measured in at 8 inches.

Next we want to cut ourselves a piece of foil as long as the border plus an inch because we don't want any cuts or rips along that length of the foil. We need the extra inch because of the next step. This part can be fun and frustrating.

Take the foil and crumble it into a ball. We are doing this to get a certain effect in the border.

Now straighten it back out.

Step 8: Adding the Aluminum Strip Details Continued

This is the part that can be frustrating because you want to be CAREFUL not to rip it at all. So be patient and do this slowly. If you rip it along the edges slightly, that is ok we can work around that as long as it isn't extensive. As you can see, this is what happens when you are impatient.

So after I redid mine.... what you want to do is measure 2 pieces for your length that are ¼ inch wide. Cut them out, then you can measure out two ¼ inch pieces for the width and cut them. (Now if you have a bigger piece of glass, you might need another piece of foil.) But since my glass was taller than wide, I was able to use the rest of the foil I had already.

Now it is up to you if you want to use the duller or brighter side of the foil, but I personally like the brighter side for this project.

What you want to do is put some glue on your small border on the glass. Do one edge at a time to reduce the drying factor of the glue before you put the foil down. You don't need a lot of glue, just one line in the middle of the drawn lines of this border will do. After you have the glue down, take the strip that is for that side and slowly start with one end and line it up on the space for the foil and slowly lay it down to make sure you get it lined up perfectly. If you have a little extra on the end, just go ahead and cut it off. Continue this until you have all sides down. HINT: do the glue on the long sides in smaller bits as seen in the photos.

Let is dry. Now would be a good time to revisit our frame which should be dry now. Check to make sure you have all of it covered with paint. If you missed some spots, respray those areas and let it dry.

Step 9: Painting on Your Leaded Stripes

If your glue hasn't sat for a good 30 minutes to an hour, continue to let it dry. Take a break, get some water, a snack, go for a walk... anything that tickles your fancy. Come back to it after the glue has dried.

Now that it is dry, we are going to break out the metallic fabric paint. This part you want to make sure you have steady hands because you are going to be tracing those lines you laid down earlier, so skip that last cup of coffee. :) Take this part nice and slow because it isn't an easy task to erase.

What you want to do is start from one end of the glass and work to the other. This way you don't drag your arm or hand through finished lines. If you are a righty, I suggest starting on the left and the opposite goes for you lefties out there. Oh and don't forget the little lines in the corners of the ¼ inch border that we covered up with the foil.

One other thing to remember, is not to drag the tip of the paint bottle across the glass. You want to draw with a little bit of room between the tip and the glass to give the paint that raised look of the lead. Also when you come across a line already drawn, like on the “criss crosses”, lift it a little so you draw OVER the line and not through it. That will help enhance the faux leaded look we want.

If you do screw up somewhere or you aren't happy with a line, you can take a paper towel and wipe it away, just be aware of the foil and don’t wipe so hard you rip it. And also be aware that wiping away the paint will also wipe away your lines under it. So if that happens, you can either eyeball it or you might have to wait until any paint that the straight edge would cross to redraw the line is dry before redrawing it. But if you are patient and go slowly with the tracing, you should end up with some nice lines when you are done.

We are going to let this dry and go back to our frame.

Step 10: Finishing Your Frame Paint Job

Again if you missed any spots, repaint those areas and let it dry. If you are working with a piece of glass like I am, you will want to cover every surface (except the back that would be against the wall) because of the fact you will be able to see it through the pane. Mirrors you will only have to worry about the more cosmetics surfaces. Once you have it fully covered and dried, it is time to break out our last weapon; the metallic acrylic paint.

Now this part is optional, of course. If you like the look of the plain black or the plain color you chose as your base, then you can skip this step. But what I’m going to do is add a light silverish tone to mine to imitate a tarnished silver finish. But keep in mind, this probably will only work with the black base and the metallic paint I chose to work with. So grab your paintbrush. We will need this, our metallic paint and a paper towel or two for this step. Also go ahead and grab something to pour your paint on. It could be a piece of cardboard, a paint pallet, or like I'm using an old plate that I use as a pallet when I do my paintings.

Start by opening your paint and adding some paint to your plate/pallet/cardboard. Start out with about a half dollar sized amount. Take your brush and paint a little on one of the shorter sides of the top of your frame. I like starting with one of the shorter sides

It doesn’t have to be pretty by any means because the next step we are taking the paper towel and lightly wiping away the paint. If you have a more ornate frame, be sure not to push down in the grooves and cracks. That way the silver will stay in there and look even cooler than mine since mine is a plain wooden frame. I am going to leave the paint on the inner beveled edge though to make it a little more fancy.

I like to tackle this in stages. I do the top once, let it dry, then do the sides of the frame and let that dry. I would also suggest using a new towel for the sides to wipe.

Now it is up to you if you want to add more that one coat, but I am going to add at least one more to make the silver inner edge pop more. Now with the ornate frames, I suggest two coats at the minimum but you don't have to do more than 3

Step 11: Cleaning Up Your Leaded Glass

(The first two images here are before shots, the second two are all cleaned up after shots)

The very last step you want to do as your last coat of paint dries, is clean your glass once that is dried. If you are like me, you might have some stray glue or sharpie marks that are still on the glass, not to mention fingerprints. So grab your window cleaner and another paper towel and clean it as much as you need. BUT BE CAREFUL not to scrub too hard as you could loosen your paint lines and/or rip them or your foil. And yes, if you were wondering, you can take sharpie off glass and mirror with window cleaner. Magic marker isn't always that magical

Step 12: All Done and Ready to Hang

After you have that done and your frame is dry, you can go ahead and put your pane/mirror back in its frame and VIOLA! you just made a faux leaded glass pane to make your home that much more cool! (If you are working with glass like I am, I would suggest also cleaning the back side of your glass too. When I picked mine up and put it in the frame I noticed a lot of finger prints and scuffs and stuff) :D

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Before and After Contest 2017