My husband and I were opening windows on our second floor because the air conditioner had gone out, when we found how badly this unicorn suncatcher had faded just hanging in a window. As he really likes this one, I told him I could restore it for him. Mind you, I wasn’t totally sure, but I hate to see him upset. Fortunately, I used to do a lot of faux stained glass painting years ago, and I figured I could do that. Almost immediately I thought of one of my favorite faux sports tv shows for the title of this one…Most Extreme Elimination Challenge!
The first few steps were obvious: I had to remove the old paint and clean the glass. The moment I started, the black lines came off in one crisp snap. What was left looked like the saddest horse face in the world.
I thought that the black lines snapping off was detrimental, but it actually made everything easier. I hollowed out the lines as best I could, only snapping the lines one more time. A quick dot of hot glue and it was good enough to continue on.
I placed a piece of paper over it. Yes, I could have just scanned it, but I was just thinking of getting to the painting as quickly as possible. I ran my fingers over the lines, creating an impression on the top paper, which I then went over with a Sharpie marker. When I was satisfied with the result, I slipped the paper into a page protector. Trust me, this part is way easier than one thinks it would be.
The key to making the lead lines is to have a constant flow of paint… and a steady hand. The first one is easy, but definitely take breaks or your hand really starts to hurt… if you used the large bottle like I did. FYI: the little bottles really don’t hurt to squeeze, but the large one doesn’t like letting go of the paint. Also, don’t let the tip touch the paper, because the lines thin out and spread when it does. I have found that out to my detriment. Anyway, when finished, set it in a safe location to dry for several hours or overnight. I say safe, because almost immediately after taking the picture of my work, a piece of paper was wafted by the ceiling fan onto it, lifting up all the paint. I had to do it all again. And do use nice, cheap transparencies, because leading blanks are comparably expensive, and the paint peels right off when dry.
While the paint dried, I moved to the glass and frame. I first tried my trusty x-acto knife on it, but I just couldn’t get a good purchase. So I tried box cutters, believe it or not. The paint immediately started to flake off. In fact, the flakes were quite small and flew through the air. They were everywhere, but it was easy. After a thorough dusting and brushing paint out of my hair, I cleaned the glass. I tried glass cleaner, but it seemed to stick errant paint chips back onto the surface. Soap, water, and a little scrubbing cleaned it off right quick.
All righty then, now for the color! Before we go farther, I should say that I used Plaid’s Gallery Glass paints for this project. I trust them and used them many times. If you want to know which colors I chose, I used the following: snow white, sand frost, honey frost, root beer, hologram shimmer (nose and eyes) and lavender (eyes). The best way to paint between leading lines is to trace the edges with your paint first. Then fill in the center. I use a swirling motion but anything works as long as you don’t leave any gaps.
Here is the white done. Looks weird, doesn’t it? Well, I added the hologram shimmer to the nose and back half of the eyes, lavender filled in the rest. Sand frost was used for the horn. Root beer was the majority of the hair, and I put in lines of honey frost for highlights. Different from the original, but I honestly don’t remember what the un-peeling original looked like so I improvised. Don’t think that what it looks like now is its final color scheme, because many of these colors dry completely different, and transparent. The middle pic here is the newly finished painting, the one at the end is after a night of drying. It turned out much darker than the wet version, but I like it.
Now carefully peel the paint up from the page protector. If it were small you could rip it off, but this is a large paint job. It will stretch if you pull too hard. Then just put it on the glass. Ha ha, just kidding… it is never that easy. I spent almost half an hour trying to find the best placement of the unicorn in the center of this glass, as there was very little wiggle room. But the Gallery Glass can lift off for rearrangement. Not as easily as from the page protector, but if you are careful you can do it.
And here is the finished product. What do you think?