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Craft a vintage suncatcher. This translucent window hanging has an Arts & Crafts look, with copper foil tape and simple reverse-glass painting.


Vintage sun catcher photoEqually lovely hanging in a window or displayed on a stand, this vintage suncatcher boasts vintage artisan style.  It can be made with plain window glass or Plexiglass.

Printing on vellum paper is the trick. Frosty and translucent, it makes images glow with soft light.

We couldn't settle on one or two images so we gave you five; the two shown here plus Father Christmas, an art-nouveau Valentine, and... a bird.

Materials

  1. suncatcher step 1Vintage image, printed on vellum paper (Free Adobe PDF download). Print the leaf patterns on white paper.
  2. Two pieces of window glass or Plexiglass, cut to 8" X 11".  Clean all of the glass and lay it out on paper towels (see Tips).
  3. Copper foil tape, 1/2" wide (see Tips).
  4. Copper foil tape, 5/16" wide.
  5. Copper wire, 18 gauge, 3 ft. (see Tips).
  6. Opaque paint pens with a fine point. We used copper and black.
  7. Light-stick masking tape.
  8. Crafts & Supplies at joann.com!
  9. Glue stick.
  10. Household glue suitable for metal, like Duco Cement.
  11. Scissors or craft knife.
  12. Ruler.
  13. Bone burnisher.
  14. Needle-nose pliers.
  15. Wire cutter.
  16. An 8.5" X 11"  piece of white paper and a piece of wax paper.

Instructions for Vintage Suncatcher

  1. suncatcher step 2Trim the image, leaving a 1/16" border.
  2. Trim a piece of white paper to 8" X 11". With a ruler, mark straight lines 1.5" in from all four edges. This will be your template for positioning the image and the 5/16" foil tape.


  3. suncatcher step 3Lay one piece of glass on the template and align the corners.
  4. Put four small smears of glue stick on the corners of the back of your image, and affix it to the glass in the center of your template. The glue will keep the image from shifting.

  5. suncatcher step 4Place the second piece of glass on top. Tape the glass together (not with the template) on all four sides with small pieces of masking tape.

  6. suncatcher step 5Cut two 17" pieces of the 5/16" wide foil tape.  Remove the paper backing on one piece (see Tips). Position the center of the tape with the center of the glass on the top horizontal line on your template, just covering the edge of the image.  Press it onto the front glass. Turn the glass over and remove the paper template. Bring one end of the foil tape in, aligning it carefully over the tape on the other side, and press it onto the back glass. Repeat with the other end of the tape, aligning it over the tape on the front and overlapping the first end. Burnish it to the glass with a bone burnisher. Repeat the process with the second piece of foil tape, aligning it with the second horizontal line on your template.  Remove all of the masking tape.
  7. Cut two 25" pieces of the 5/16" wide foil tape, and repeat the process on the vertical template lines.

  8. suncatcher step 6Cut two 10" pieces of 1/2" foil tape for the top and bottom edges. Holding the glass vertically, center the tape over the top and lightly press it on. Turn the glass over so the taped edge is on the table top. Use this position to "fine tune" the placement of the tape; hold one end, gently lift the other end, and reposition it until it is perfectly centered on the tape. Crimp the tape carefully onto both sides of the glass. With scissors, miter the tape at the corners before crimping down the sides. Burnish the tape to the glass.  Repeat the process on the opposite edge.
  9. Cut two 10" pieces for the sides, and repeat the process above.
  10. Cut two 3" pieces of copper wire. With needle-nose pliers, curl the two ends into the center.  Leave the curls open, with a 3/8" gap between the ends. These are your hangers.

  11. suncatchers step 7Lay the glass on a flat surface.  Put a piece of wax paper under the top edge. Position your hangers on the top edge, with the 3/8" gaps aligned with the vertical foil tape. Glue the hangers to the top edge with household cement and let dry for an hour.
  12. Cut four 5" pieces of 5/16" foil tape. Affix two pieces over each hanger and down the vertical tape as reinforcement. Burnish it.

  13. Suin catcher step 8Cut our four leaf patterns in 1" squares.  Tape them, face down, onto the four corners of the front glass.  Turn the glass over. With your paint pen, carefully paint over the pattern. Let it dry for an hour. Remove your patterns, and touch up any spots you missed. All done!

Tips

  • Window glass is heavier than Plexiglass. We chose Plexiglass. If you use window glass, we recommend that you make the hanging wire structure stronger. Cut an 8" piece, and bend two half-loops 2" in from each end. Glue it to the top edge and let it dry. Cut four 5" pieces of 5/16" foil tape, and tape over the wire on the two vertical tape lines. Burnish and add the second piece of tape. Cut short pieces of the 1/2" tape and cover the glued parts of the wire across the top edge.  The photo below shows how to shape the wire.
Vintage suncatcher alternate hanging method
  • If you are using Plexiglass, careful with that bone burnisher. It will scratch the Plexiglass.
  • Copper foil tape is available from stained glass supply stores. Removing the paper backing is tricky, because the tape curls and sticks to itself - permanently. Remove the backing as you need to, not all at once.
  • 18 gauge copper wire is standard electrical wire. Remove the insulation with a craft knife.  We specified 3 feet of wire even though the project uses less, because you may waste some wire getting those hooks bent just right.  We did.
  • We gave you a bunch of leaf patterns with the images, in case you want to paint them along the sides as well. Of course, you can use other patterns, or you can use other translucent images in the borders. You might try some stained glass painting - a project for another day.
  • Raw copper cries for blue-green (verdigis) patina. Yes, you can buy patina solution at a craft store, but, you know us - half the challenge is making it yourself. We've assembled instructions for a few homemade concoctions on our craft recipes page, if you are brave of heart. 

If you liked the Vintage Suncatcher...

The Vintage Suncatcher is one example of a reverse-glass painting technique.  If you want to try your hand at some reverse-glass lettering, check out Santa's Cookie Plate or our Pet Treat Jar.

Hang on to that extra copper foil tape and use it on another craft, like our CD Coasters.


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