Stained Glass Windows… the easy way…

15 Apr

I like to help out with my kids plays in high school – everyone who’s a parent does.  Recently Glacier Peak High School was doing Sound of Music, and needed an altar in a church with a stained glass window, and it needed to cheap, portable and fast to make since we had… like 5 days to assemble it and several other stage peices.

Now, ordinarilly this is an Art Dept thing… which is great if you have an Art Dept.  which… we didn’t.  Here’s a really photo of the finished work from my cheap cell phone (shame on me – haven’t gotten a new Windows 7 phone.  Sad smile  I blame Verizon!!!)

Now… as you can see – the altar’s on a rolling platform.  has a kinda sculpted look that fits in with the Arches flown in, and has a big gaping hole for the stained glass window.

Here’s an apologetically grainy bad blow up… I’ll find a better shot today or tomorrow to replace it…image


As you can see – it’s a fairly detailed window – and it’s actually clear.  And yes… it was done in a day.  Did I mention that it also needed to be viewed from BOTH sides of the altar? Neither did the director. Open-mouthed smile

Not a problem.

I began by first getting measurements for the window’s radius.  About 48 inches round.  I subtracted 3 inches for “room” – and decided on locating a nice round stained glass window size of 45 inches and hit the Internet.  Surprisingly enough – round stained glass windows are not as easy to find as you’d think, because the more detailed they are the more difficult my trick is to pull off.  You want very large design spaces on the glass work, and you’ll see why in a minute.

I decided on this window … which you can find at the WikiMedia Commons archives… File:Madonna and Child McNay Nima.JPG – and more specifically… at File:Madonna and Child McNay Nima.JPG.  It seemed like something I’d see in a very old abbey in Austria. 

So… now I have a big image… and I need to get it into Photoshop.  Why?  Because I need to break it into it’s components and remove all color.

Just doing a grey scale isn’t enough for this.  You need it in black and white with SOME greys.

So start by Desaturation of the image…then remove as much color as you can and save it.  (Notice that I kept the grey scale for the Madonna mdjpgand Childs facial features – but removed color completely where ever possible.  Don’t worry too much about details and leave some greys.  This really depends on your taste – but try a few different variations.

The more stark lines – the better this will work.  Frankly I left in too many of them.  The larger the image – the easier this is to do.  This image was 2000x pixels so – could play around a lot.  I really should have been more careful –  but time was pressing so a lot of redo’s and playing weren’t possible.

Now that we have that – save it as JPG so it’s smaller file size but large image size.  imageWe’ll need to rasterize this… and there’s a free tool for that called Rasterbator( )Cool you say… but what’s it do?

Rasterizing an image allows you to take a small image and blow it up to a poster – even up to sizes as big as 20 meters.  Which… next time you need to do backdrops… keep this in mind.Winking smile

Okay… so now we’re in Rasterbator and we’ve loaded our image up – and we’ve set it to out put it to 45 inches… all is good and we have these some 30 sheets to be printed on a printer.  But that just puts it on paper.

Well now… we need a trip to the office supply store.  Smile  Not to have them print it – but to have them copy it.  Yes we’re going to copy them on to … clear sheets.  Specifically Overhead Transparency Sheets .. Which … you can get from several places.  (Be careful about just going to Kinkos for this – they’ll charge you about 50-60 bucks.  You can buy 100 sheets for between 19 and 30 and make your own copies.  I got mine from OfficeMax using an off brand Highland – which was about $19.00)

Take the white paper rasterized copies – and copy them onto the Overhead Projector Clear sheets.  (Make sure you bought the kind for Copiers or you will seriously mess up a copier.  Also consider if your copier is a ‘hot’ copier … when in doubt – buy them at the same place you’ll make the copies, and have them make the copies for the 15 cents each or so.)

Now… you’ve got 30 clear sheets of plastic film, which what I did for the shot above, was super glue them at the corners to make the nice clear stained glass.  Then I went back and cut out colored transparent cellophane party wrap over the areas I wanted colored.

Mount it… and… you’re done.

A couple things I wanted to do… or would do next time.  I’d purchase a thin sheet of clear Plexiglas and maybe either trace with a wide sharpie marker on it, and then do the cellophane, or color it by hand.  This would really make it stable, and give the illusion.  Unfortunately for our production we really didn’t have time for it (as we couldn’t get a 4×8 sheet of Plexiglas quick and cheap.  Optix is probably the cheapest, and would need 1-2 36×48 sheets of .993 mil thickness @ around $29.00 each – which, since we were over budget already – not gonna happen.)  This actually works surprisingly well and could be strengthened further by bonding them to precut thin wooden pieces painted black.

But there ya go…. stained glass – for around $35-$40.

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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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