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This Christmas Window Decoration has the vintage charm of painted stained glass. All you need is a discarded window pane, liquid leading and fancy glass glitter!

Christmas window decoration photo
(click here for a larger
Christmas Window Decoration image)
For months, we had been contemplating a Christmas Window Decoration craft. Everything we tried looked like those color-by-number designs you see with the glass paint at craft stores. What, we wondered, could make our version really stand apart?

Then we received a call from Art Glitter, the nationally respected manufacturer of premium glitter and other innovative craft products. Would we consider designing a craft around their vintage glass glitter? You bet we would - and our Christmas window decoration took on a whole new light. So to speak.

We wanted a decoration that could be displayed inside a window every Christmas, and then simply stored away. Dramatic but subtle. Beautiful by day or night. Easy to make. Cheap.

We began with an old six-paned double-hung window from our local Habitat for Humanity recycling center. $5.00 and the window was ours. You may even have one in your garage.

The rest of the story on this Christmas Window Decoration is below. We've provided eight FREE templates and vintage images, ready to print on your home inkjet printer. Of course, we recommend authentic Art Glitter brand Vintage Glass Glitter Shards, because the glitter is far coarser than regular glitter and translucent, which is what you need for the beautifully textured stained glass effect!

Materials for this Christmas Window Decoration

Materials for crackle painting the window frame

  • Latex (water-base) paint in two contrasting colors. We used Rustoleum Painter's Touch, gloss, in Hunter Green (base coat) and Almond (top coat).
  • Hide glue. We used Titebond Liquid Hide Glue.
  • Paint brushes.
  • Fine sand paper.
  • Matte varnish (optional).

Instructions for crackle painting the window frame

(These instructions can also be found on our Craft Recipes page. If your window frame is already peeling and battered; wonderful! You can skip this step of the Christmas window decoration).
  1. Prepare your window frame by cleaning, sanding, and masking (see Tips). Paint your wood frame with the base color and let it dry. We used dark green latex gloss paint for our base color, and almond latex gloss paint for the top coat. Crackle paint, step 1
  2. When your base coat of paint is dry, brush on a coat of hide glue with a wide foam or bristle brush (you may dilute the glue slightly with water to make it easier to brush, which will also make the cracks smaller). Let it dry thoroughly - like a full day.

  3. Crackle paint, step 2Quickly brush on the topcoat of paint, using a wide brush to cover as much area as possible with one coat, avoiding overlapping strokes. The paint will begin to separate immediately, forming the cracks. A light coat of paint will form thin cracks, and a heavy coat will form larger cracks.

  4. Crackle paint, step 3Once it has dried, you can antique the finish with light sanding and rubbing in a dark acrylic or oil paint wash, to accentuate the aged appearance. It is wise to protect the finish with matte varnish. Now you are ready to create your Christmas window decoration!

Instructions for applying the decorations to the glass

  1. Print two sets of the vintage images, one set on vellum paper (to be applied to the glass) and one set on plain paper (as leading templates). Print two sets of the ribbon templates on plain paper.
  2. Christmas window decoration craft, step 1Lay the window face down on a flat surface. Find the center point at the top of each pane and draw a vertical line down the center of each pane with the dry-erase marker. This will be the template for the "hanging cord" for each ornament.
  3. Roughly trim the printed ribbon templates. Center each template, face down, at the top of each pane. Tape them in place with masking tape.

  4. Christmas window decoratin craft, step 2Position the ornament leading templates face down and centered (on the "hanging cord" line) on each pane and tape in place. Turn the window face up. You should see a ribbon, a cord, and an ornament centered behind each pane of glass.

  5. Christmas window decoration craft, step 3Trim the vintage images printed on the vellum. Leave a bit of the printed black leading border around each image.
  6. Spray the back of each image with spray glue, and apply it to the glass pane, aligned with the matching image printed on the template. Press and allow to dry. (When the glue is dry, excess moisture in the air may cause the vellum to buckle slightly and separate from the glass. This is minor and the liquid leading applied around the edge will keep it in place. One problem though is having the liquid leading seep under the edges of the vellum, causing black stains. This can be reduced by pressing the glued vellum to the glass under a piece of wax paper and a book until it dries).

  7. Christmas window decoration craft, step 4Carefully apply liquid leading over all leading lines on the ribbon template, the hanging cord, and the ornament. Be sure to cover the edges of the vellum image. Allow to dry for a full day (see Tips).
  8. It's glitter time! Remove the templates from the back of the glass, wipe off the dry-erase cord line, and clean the glass. Work with a single color of glitter at a time. We aren't specifying which colors to use where, because the possibilities are endless. You may want to make all of the ornament tops silver or gold. You can fill the ribbons with two colors, or just one.
  9. Christmas window decoration craft, step 5Choose a single glitter color and where you want to apply it. Fill the leaded area with glue, starting in the center of the glass and pushing the glue up to the leading with a detail paint brush, a toothpick or a cotton swab. If you get glue on the leading, wipe if off with a moist cotton swab.

  10. Christmas window decoration, step 6Working quickly, sprinkle the glitter liberally over the glue with a teaspoon (see Tips). Let it dry for about an hour. This project makes it hard to save excess glitter, so bid the stray glitter a fond farewell as you brush (or vacuum) off the excess. Reglitter any thin spots. Repeat the process with each subsequent color.
  11. Vacuum up the remaining stray glitter, clean the glass again, and you are ready to display your Christmas window decoration. Just place or hang it inside a window. The incoming light will make the images glow and the glitter sparkle, just like vintage hand-painted ornaments.
Tips (with some close-up images of the Christmas Window Decoration panes).
  • Christmas window decoration closeup#1Liquid leading is a thick, dimensional paint that comes in a squirt-top plastic bottle. Gallery Glass by Plaid is probably the most popular brand. Honestly, liquid leading is a bear to use. It is sticky, thick and hard to apply evenly. Practice a while before you start your window. The instructions on the bottle don't give you much guidance, but you can find some help at Plaid. Remember: you can always wait until it dries and then slice your mistakes away with a razor blade. If you can't find liquid leading (click on the link in the materials list for an online source), you can also use black puffy paint or dimensional paint for fabric.
  • Christmas window decoration closeup#2Vellum is a translucent paper, which means light will pass through your printed image. Vellum is also a smooth-surfaced paper, and many inkjet printers do not like it and the ink will smear. Be sure you buy vellum produced for inkjet printing. Configure your printer for printing on "transparency" for the best quality.

  • Christmas window decoration closeup#3Another way to get a similar effect to vellum is with water-slide decals, such as Lazertran Waterslide Decal Paper for Inkjet. You will print the vintage images onto the decal paper, then apply the decals to the glass. Once positioned and the bubbles are all smoothed out, lay a piece of white paper over the decal and press it under a smooth book. This will keep the edges of the decal from curling up off the glass when it dries. You'll get the same translucent quality as vellum, but less vivid colors.
  • Christmas window decoration closeup#4Since this Christmas Window Decoration craft was created especially to showcase Art Glitter, we should tell you why we are in love with it. Frankly, we've never seen such beautiful, high-quality glitter. We used their Vintage Glass Shards, which is a coarse glitter that looks like someone lovingly ground up Grandma's Tiffany lamp in rainbow order. The glitter is especially rich because each color is a mixture of translucent and opaque glass, and the shards are large enough to really reflect light. This isn't your grade-school glitter - it is the real thing.
  • Be very aware that this glitter is real glass, and it can cut skin and damage eyes. Sprinkle it with a teaspoon, and not your fingers (as we foolishly did in our photo in the instructions). This is not glitter that children should use.
  • Christmas window decoration closeup#5You've probably heard our warnings about spray glue before. It is nasty stuff and will stick on everything, but it is necessary for this project for two reasons. First, it sticks paper to glass like no other glue. Second, it will not cause the inkjet inks to run on the vellum, which a water-based glue like white glue will do. Just use the spray glue far away from your glass project, cover all surfaces, and be careful.

  • Christmas window decoration closeup#6Wondering about the best way to mask a pane of glass before you paint the frame? Let us tell you about the miracle of Jasco Mask & Seal. It is a milky liquid that you brush on where the glass meets the wood. It dries into a clear plastic film. Now you paint the wood right over the film on the glass. When you are all done, just run a razor blade around the edge of the glass and scrape off the Mask & Seal. It takes just a few seconds, and you have a clean pane of glass with a perfect painted edge. We used it for painting all 500 windows on our house and we wouldn't do it any other way.
  • You can adapt this Christmas Window Decoration craft to any number of variations. Add some brackets to the bottom for a stand, and place it in front of your candle-filled fireplace for a stained-glass fire screen. Create a single ornament on a pane of glass, then frame it with wood or edge it with copper stained glass tape. Set it on a plate stand in front of a candle, or prop it on a window sill. You can fill the leading with glass paint instead of glitter for a more traditional painted glass look. And of course - add a holly garland or string of lights!
Thank you, Barbara Trombley and Emily Miller at Art Glitter, for your support and your Christmas spirit!
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