How to Paint a Stained-Glass Window

A family portrait is turned into a unique stained-glass-style window.

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Light shines through the hand-painted window creating an interesting reflection on the wall.

Light shines through the hand-painted window creating an interesting reflection on the wall.

If you've got an empty window that needs some color, try creating framed stained-glass-style art. It's a great way to display a special photo and to let some colorful light into your room.

Materials and Tools:

5-1/2" x 5/8" redwood
4" x 5/8" redwood
3/4" x 5/8" redwood
1-1/2" nails
1" nails
1" micro-pins
one sheet of acrylic glass
stained-glass paint kit
black and white copy of your favorite photo (blown up to desired size)
table saw
chop saw
brad nailer
nail gun


Note: We built this frame to fit inside a small window that previously housed an air conditioner. The existing hole was 5-1/2" deep, but if the wall had been smaller (4-1/2"), we would have only used one of the boxes and the furring strips to hold the acrylic on both sides. These measurements are specific to this area, but they can be modified to fit your own space.

1. Cut two pieces of 5-1/2" x 5/8" redwood to 24-1/2 inches in length and two pieces to 16-1/4 inches in length with the table saw.

2. Glue and nail the pieces together to form a box using 1-1/2" nails.

3. Cut two pieces of 4" x 5/8" redwood to 23 inches in length and two pieces to 14-3/4 inches in length.

4. Fasten the pieces together with 1-1/2" nails, forming a slightly smaller box than the first.


5. Slide the smaller box into the larger one, leaving enough of the smaller box sticking out of the larger one to equal 5-1/2 inches in depth.

6. Glue and nail the boxes together with one inch nails.

7. Cut two pieces of 3/4"x5/8" redwood down to 23 inches and two pieces down to 14-3/4 inches to form the furring strips.

8. Using a chop saw, miter the edge of each piece to a 45-degree angle so they fit together in a square.

9. Photocopy your favorite picture to an 8x10 black and white print (or your appropriate size).

10. Cut acrylic panel down to 14-5/8"x22-7/8".


11. Place the photo under the acrylic panel and hold it very steady. Using the black lead paint, trace the lines of your photograph. Allow it to dry for at least 30 minutes.


12. Using stained glass paint, fill in the desired sections with various colors. Be sure to fill in the sections entirely and spread the paint thoroughly. Allow it to dry for at least two hours.

13. Place the acrylic panel into the wooden frame, making sure the painted side faces the interior of the house, as weather and the elements could ruin your work.


14. With a brad nailer, attach the furring strips inside the wooden box with one inch micro-pins. The strips should rest against the acrylic, holding it in place. Nail diagonally to avoid hitting the acrylic, otherwise you could crack or shatter your art.

15. Place the framed art inside your window and secure it into place. Now your custom-designed stained glass is ready to let in light.

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