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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart


Look at a pet shop for bottles of translucent aquarium paint & paint your design on a piece of plexiglass. Dark grey enamel paint will serve as faux leading.


I have built many "stained glass" windows using "crackle" Plexiglas (expensive) or crackle diffusion panels for fluorescent lights (cheap). Leading can be approximated with the rope like caulking material sold at most hardware stores. (Trade name "Mortite" although Ace has its own brand). Lay the rope caulk on the rough side of the plexi according to the pattern, press it down very firmly with a roller (important). Foil type leading ala Tiffany can be imitated with fabric puff paint. I have used various gels and cellophane for color... also stamp pad inks or Future floor finish mixed with paint tints, all applied to back of plexi. depending on the look you want, the front of the "glass" can be painted with latex paints (gray, white, black and raw sienna washes) to a mimic the gray appearance of leaded opal glass when light does not shine through it.

Etched glass can be imitated with spray adhesive (77) sprayed evenly (kind of difficult... takes practice) over a contact paper stencil on plexi, allowed to dry overnight, then coated with Future. Both these techniques are so realistic they can be used close up.


Another way to make the lead came for stained glass windows is to use black caulk. It gives an opaque look and depth to the window.


The way I have done this, (several times) is to take all those bits and pieces of leftover gel. Lay them out in a logical pattern and tape them to a sheet of clear plastic using black electrical tape. This creates your leaded window lines. I then attach a sheet of bubble wrap to the back of the entire piece. This creates a diffusion material that allows the window to be lit from above and behind with only one or two lights.

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