Stained Glass – Functional Art

Have you ever been inside an old church or cathedral?  Chances are, you’ve seen beautiful works of art – in the windows.

Rose Window By Krzysztof Mizera, changed by Chagler and MathKnight (Based on File:Rozeta Paryż notre-dame chalger.jpg) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Stained glass is made through a careful process of adding metallic salts to color glass.  Artisans cut pieces of the colored glass into small shapes, assemble them into pictures or designs, and then usually connect using strips of lead.

The window you see above is called a rose window.  ‘Rose window’ is a general term applied to round decorative windows.  See how the design on the window resembles the petals of a rose?  Rose windows are characteristic of Gothic architecture.  If you see a Gothic cathedral in Northern France, you’ll likely see rose windows and lots of other stained glass designs.  Cathedrals across Europe have beautiful stained glass windows.

Make Your Own Rose Window

Try making your own rose window.  First, use a sharpener to collect colorful wax shavings on a piece of wax paper.

Then, cover your design with another piece of wax paper. Then, using paper towels on the bottom and top to absorb any mess, iron your design – it only takes about one second for the wax to melt.


Next, using a piece of black construction paper, cut a snowflake-style frame.  It doesn’t have to be just like this.  Remember – they are all different.

Stained-Glass-2Glue your frame to the melted wax design.


 Trim the excess wax paper, and hang up your beautiful rose window and enjoy!


Additional Layers

  • Go on an expedition to a church with stained glass windows.  Look at the details and intricacy of the glass.  It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle.
  • Watch this video by Glass Crafters.  See how real people craft real stained glass windows.
  • Often stained glass shows pictures of events, quite often from the Bible.  If you were going to make a stained glass window, what scene would you create?  Draw out a design.
  • Khan Academy has an excellent lesson about the history of stained glass that we highly recommend.

More From Layers of Learning

Visit our Arts page for tons more art projects your kids will love.

Layers of Learning Unit 2-8
Layers of Learning Unit 2-8 is all about Gothic Art, and includes explorations about stained glass windows and a rose window printable.

Try painting with pointilism with this lesson about Seurat and his fascinating dotted painting technique.

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