Introduction: Stained Glass and Epoxy Mosaic
I have had this idea floating around in the back of my head for a long time, and I finally got around to testing it out!
I have seen artists create stained glass mosaics before, but noticed they always used white elmers glue to attach the glass, which doesn't seem strong enough to me, then they would grout the project with a grout that you would typically see for showers- which is really messy and can scratch the glass. I figured there had to be a better way, and this worked out great!
I suggest you read through the whole instructable before jumping in, as there are some mistakes to be avoided! I learned the hard way so you don't have to.
Let's jump right in then, because I KNOW you have an old window or mirror that needs this treatment!
Stained glass of choice
Mold to attach glass (I used an old clock face)
Pattern of choice
Epoxy Resin (+ mixing cups and rubber gloves)
Foam paint brush
Plastic syringe (I used an old medicine dispenser)
Step 1: Create Design and Prepare Your Mold
The first step is to choose a design for your project. I have long admired Mondrian inspired pieces and chose this "globe" pattern for it's clean lines and use of primary colors.
When you create your design, just remember that for this method, you are attaching the pattern backwards, so be sure to mirror your pattern.
Now the fun part- choose a mold! I found an old clock face that is 15 inches, the perfect size to create this globe. I also tested this on regular window glass, mirror, and dollar store frames- they all work great! The trick here is to put a bead of silicone around the inside edge so the epoxy doesn't leak out the sides.
Make sure you clean the clear glass really well before you add the colored glass, you don't want a hair or dust particle to be encased in there forever!
Step 2: Cut and Clean Glass
Using the pattern you chose, cut the glass to the appropriate size. I won't go into glass cutting in this instructable, there are plenty of places that teach you how to do that- and glass cutters are really cheap!
After you have cut the glass, clean all the pieces really well. If you used a marker to lay out your design be sure to clean if off before the next step.
Step 3: Attach Glass to Form With Epoxy Resin
Now comes the fun part! I used Art Resin epoxy for this because it has no VOC's, mixes at a 1:1 ratio, and has excellent UV resistance, something we need for this project!
Mix up just enough resin to paint a thin coat on the inside of your form. I highly suggest you wear rubber gloves while working with epoxy. Art Resin has a calculator to let you know how much you need to use, but trust me- you only need enough to paint on a thin layer, NOT a full 1/8" deep!
Once you have painted on a thin layer, place all your pieces onto the mold using your design as a guide. You will need to watch it closely for 45 minutes to 1 hour as the pieces will want to shift around in the epoxy.
Once the pieces stop sliding around and the epoxy is tacky, let it dry fully. (I suggest overnight)
Step 4: Beware These Mistakes!
A word of warning here! In all my experimentation I have come across some best practices/ mistakes to avoid. They are listed here, in no particular order:
- Make sure you silicone the edges of your form really well, you don't want epoxy escaping/leaking all over.
- Keep an eye on your project as it cures and cover it. If dust or hair is introduced, it will be encased in there forever -unless of course you want the DNA of your hair as your "forever" signature to your art ;-)
- Do NOT use too much epoxy to attach the glass. This is critical! You don't want the pieces floating around in the epoxy and creating a buoyancy mess! Just paint on a really thin layer, that will be enough- the pieces will be glued, and you will have enough space to add colored "grout" later.
- Beware of bubbles! Do you see the blue square on the African continent? It has a big bubble in it that I missed and some of the colored grout seeped in at the end. It's OK if there are some bubbles, just not huge ones at the edge of the glass pieces.
- When you mix your colored grout, mix enough for one pour, you don't want to have to do it twice and have different shades of "grout" in the finished piece.
- When you add the "grout" in between the glass pieces, do this carefully with a syringe, you don't want to completely cover the glass, then try to wipe it off.
Step 5: Add "grout" to Your Mosaic and ENJOY!!
This is where it comes together- so satisfying! Mix up enough epoxy to cover the entire piece 1/8" deep. You won't need all of it, but this way you have enough to fill the negative spaces in your design.
Add the resin tint/colorant to the epoxy to create the "grout". I used white in this case to mimic the Mondrian aesthetic. I mixed up enough so that it was translucent, but not too opaque. I still wanted the light to shine through.
Don't pour this mixture over the back and wipe it off like you might regular grout- that would be a mistake. Use a syringe and carefully add the "grout" between the negative spaces and the open areas of your design. Let this epoxy cure completely before hanging it somewhere it can be enjoyed!!
I'm thrilled with how this turned out. With this method you can create a stained glass piece without having to do more complicated soldering/metal work. You can customize the "grout" to any color you desire- there is no limit to your creativity here.
If you have any concerns about this technique, let me reassure you- I have done many tests- including gluing glass to glass with epoxy and hung it out in the blazing Texas sun for over 6 months with multiple triple digit heat waves and plenty of rain storms. I have not had any pieces de-laminate and have not seen any yellowing of the epoxy. I'm very impressed with the result, and will be trying this technique on more projects to come! If you want to see what I'm working on currently, check out my Instagram page: @phyrumtaylor.
Thanks for following along!
First Prize in the
Glass Speed Challenge