Paper 'Stained Glass' Earrings

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Introduction: Paper 'Stained Glass' Earrings

About: I am powered by sugar and rainbows! For realz!

I came up with the idea for paper stained glass earrings quite a while ago, but it took me some time to figure out what materials I could use. Once I figured it out, paper stained glass earrings were super easy to make and they are fun because you can personalize them however you want to go with any outfit and they are super, super, super light. So light that wearing them on a windy day is a bit dangerous. They fly all over.

Instructable 268

Step 1: Materials

It took some experimenting to figure out everything I needed to make these, but I finally got it down. In the next step I'll talk a little more about "stained glass" options, but what I list below is what I strongly suggest you use.

Supplies:

  • Silhouette paper cutter - you can definitely try to do these by hand if you are good with a Xacto knife
    • if you plan on hand cutting these and want one of the designs I used, let me know specifically which one and I'll create a PDF so you have some reference for cutting out all the pieces.
  • Black Cardstock - cardstock is thicker than normal printer paper
  • Colored, transparent file folders - you might have to look around to find the colors you want; I ended up buying three multi-color packs, 1 from the 99cents Store, 1 from Staples, and 1 from CVS to get all the colors I wanted.
  • Mod Podge - I'm using gloss because it is just what I have, but you can use whatever you want
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Tweezers - this is small work, tweezers help
  • Foam Brush
  • Old fine tip paintbrush - for if you are going to do small pieces like my multi-color earrings; make sure you don't mind getting glue all over it
  • Wax Paper - for gluing on
  • Polycrylic - optional for coating

Jewelry Findings - will depend on what you decide to make:

Step 2: Deciding on the Stained Glass Material

So I went through two other materials before ending up on the file folders.

I started with Cello Sheets.

It seemed great. It was thin, came in lots of colors, and was cheap. The problem ended up being it was too thin. You can kind of work with it on bigger pieces, but the smaller the harder it is. And using the silhouette with it is a huge pain, though I was able to cut out the red flower shown above. I don't recommend this, but you could consider it as a last resort. If you do use it, it can help to glue it right to the cellophane and then cut it out.

The second material I tried was Transparent Color Lighting Film Plastic Sheets. These seemed nice because they were thicker, and came in lots of colors. They were more expensive though and ended up being way too hard to cut. Cutting on the Silhouette was impossible. I ended up just scoring the plastic on the Silhouette and then tried to hand cut it from there with a Xacto knife, but I am not very careful and had a heck of a time just getting the one cut out seen above. Do not use this at all. If this is your only option; just don't do it then. It is also too thick and is noticeable when you glue it all together.

Lastly, I used the file folders which you will see in this Instructable.

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Another option is the material used to wrap gift baskets as that seems to be sturdy, but I think your color choices will be limited. I did not try this so it is just a suggestion, but I don't have experience with it.

Step 3: Designs

You can design whatever earrings you want, but I have attached the files for the ones you see in this Instructable.

The thing to keep in mind is the main earring piece needs to be 1 piece with cutouts. It needs to be able to exist independently as one piece or it won't work for this project.

Once you have the design you want, you need to add a hole or loop to attach it to your piece of jewelry of choice. As you can see in my design, I tried it two different ways. First was adding a circle at the tip of it and creating a hole. The second is I put the hole right in the design. I like the second method better, but you'll probably have to manipulate your design (I had to pull the point out further so that there was room for the hole) to get it to work. Make sure there is enough room around the hole so the paper won't rip easily.

Now that you have the basic earring shape and hole added, you need to create the cutout pieces for the stained glass. Take all the "holes" where the stained glass is going to go and create an offset. If you are going to have multiple pieces try to make sure they don't overlap or they will be difficult to glue down. If you want to do just 1 color, make it so the offsets all overlap and they should meld into one piece. Then, you can edit it if you want to make sure you have straight lines just so that it is neat, you won't be able to tell in the end if it is neat or not so it is not a big deal. Just make sure whatever you do, all of the holes will be covered completely. You don't want gaps.

Also, make sure the pieces don't extend over the edge of the earring or cover the hole.

Cutting Out Pieces

Time to cut everything out. You can really use this for any type of jewelry but I will talk about earrings because that is what I made.

For each pair of earrings, you will need to cut out 4 of the main design (2 for each earring). Then you will need to cut out 2 sets of the stained glass materials.

The holes probably won't cut well because they are so small, but don't worry. We will fix these at the very end with a pointy tool of some sort.

Cut Settings

The settings I used for cutting out my file folders are (these settings work for most of mine, there are a couple that are thicker for some reason and this doesn't cut them as well, but I'm still usually able to tear them out on the line it cuts):

  • Blade Depth: 4
  • Speed: 4
  • Force: 20
  • Passes: 1

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I used a caliper to get the diameter of my jump ring to decide how big the hole needed to be.

Step 4: Base Coat

Since I used a gloss mod podge, I put a coat of mod podge on the earring bases before I did anything else. I am also hopeful that this will help with stability, but it probably doesn't.

Just use a foam brush to put a layer of mod podge on both sides of the piece.

Let them dry.

Remember to do all gluing on wax paper and move the piece after you put the glue on so it doesn't stick to the paper. I kind of created an accordion wax paper rack to put my pieces on to dry (you can see this in the first image's top left corner).

Make sure you have all of your stained glass pieces before you move on and remember what order they go on if you have multiple pieces.

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At any point during making these, if you feel the earring is getting warped, let them dry and smoosh the pieces between two pieces of wax paper under a stack of books.

Step 5: Gluing 1 Color

If your piece is one color it is really easy to assemble.

Using your foam brush, glue one of the earring pieces with mod podge, move the piece to a clean area of wax paper, and carefully put on the stained glass. You don't want to move it around a lot or it will get sticky with glue so I used a tweezer to gently put it on. Press it firmly in place.

Take the other earring piece and paint it with mod podge.

Carefully line up this piece with the first piece and push them together. Let this dry.

Step 6: Gluing Multiple Colors

Like I said before, make sure you have all your pieces and that you know what order you want them (I started to glue one and then realized I was missing a piece, had to search around, couldn't find it, and then had to cut a new one, so it really is nice to just be prepared).

Using a fine tip old paintbrush, add mod podge where you want the first pice to go down. Move the piece to a clean area of wax paper. Use tweezers and gently add the piece and push it down. Continue this with each piece. You can try to glue the whole piece and then add the stained glass pieces, but I found it got dry too quickly so I prefer to do them one at a time to make sure they stay on.

Once all the stained glass pieces are on, take your other earring piece and paint it with mod podge and stick the pieces together. Push everything together. I find it helps to fold it under wax paper (last image) and push it together. Now let it dry.

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This note can be for at any point while making these, but I noticed while working with multiple pieces that my fingers would get gunky with mod podge. If you need to, go wash your hands. The gunkier your fingers get, the more likely you will smudge the stained glass and it is almost impossible to clean paper earrings, so it is better to just not mess them up in the first place.

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I used the Instructable Legend of Zelda Rupee Pillow as reference for the colors on my blue earring. I only had 3 shades of blue, though, so I had to change it a little.

Step 7: Gluing on Detached Pieces - Minecraft Creeper Stained Glass Earrings

I mentioned earlier that your paper piece should be one piece that stands on its own and I do still stand by that as that is key for the "stained glass" look, you can work with some pieces that are detached.

I decided to experiment with a Creeper face for fun, but its eyes are detached. Instead of forcing them to overlap with the mouth so they would work, I tested out if I could just glue the paper right on the plastic and if it would stay.

To do this, start by gluing on your "stained glass" to the big part of your earring, for me it was the head. Then glue the other piece on as if you were finishing it. Now, take those extra pieces and using just regular Elmer's glue, add it on in a nice thin coat (you want it to stay, but you don't want a bunch of it to smoosh out all over the "glass). Now stick it on exactly where you want it. When you have your pieces on (for me it was the eyes) flip it over and glue the other pieces exactly where the ones are on the other side.

Let it dry and you should be done (still go on to the next step and glue around the outside of the whole piece).

I just made these so I'm not sure of long-term durability. I'm worried having it glued just to the plastic won't be enough and they'll get knocked off, but we'll see!

Update: I did notice the eyes wanted to fall off, but I eventually decided to coat all these earrings which seemed to fix that problem. So if you end up doing a Polycrylic coating, this setup should be fine :)

Step 8: Adding Extra Glue

Now, I want these to stay together and so far I haven't had an issue, and I think it's because of this step.

Take your pieces (they can still be wet at this point from the last step) and using your fine paintbrush, add Elmer's glue around the whole edge of the earring. If you have any extra exposed edges (like my long Celtic one you can see in some of the final pictures) make sure you get all of them as well.

Make sure you don't glop on too much glue. You just want to make sure the gap around the earring's edge is coated/filled with glue. If you add too much it might drip onto the "stained glass."

Now let them dry completely before adding the earring pieces.

Step 9: Optional: Coating

After talking about it with audreyobscura, I decided it would be better to coat them, but I wasn't sure what to use. After trying a couple different sprays, I found I would have to use something that is painted on or dipped on or it was going to leave a speckled coating I didn't like. You could probably use something like clear nail polish, but I found Polycrylic to be a good material. You just need to be careful about getting spots that are too thick or have bubbles.

I painted it on with a cheap paintbrush and put it on a piece of cardboard I had coated with clear packing tape. After painting on a coat, I would shift the piece to a dry location and let it dry. I ended up doing about 2 coats on each side.

You have to let it dry between coats and then make sure you give it time to dry completely when you are done. Then you can move on to adding the jewelry findings.

Step 10: Add Your Findings

Before adding on your pieces, take something small, thin, and pointy and fix the holes your jump rings need to go into. I used a sequins pin because I had them sitting around and they are slightly thicker than sewing pins. Just make sure what you use isn't too big so you don't tear it.

Once you've fixed the hole, add in your jump rings and earrings (and chains if you are making dangly earrings). When adding the pieces look at how the earring hangs. You may need to add an extra jump ring to get it to hang right. My last image above shows how many I used for each.

Step 11: Done!

I love how the light shines through them! Just like stained glass, but tears easier ;)

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    24 Comments

    These are amazing! Flawless! Ima go find you on insta!

    1 reply

    Thanks! I try to share new designs I come up with on Instagram too :)

    Love these. Have you ever done any large scale designs like small window or sun catcher hangers for windows? I've done some actual stain glass work. This look much easier... not slighting your work at all. Was just think how this would work for larger pieces.

    5 replies

    Nice! Looks like you used a material like the Cello Sheets. Looks good and you have a lot of great colors :)

    I haven't tried any yet, but I think this method could for sure work for larger pieces (assuming you have large enough material). I plan on trying this out for larger projects in the future :)

    The only thing I could see be an issue is how stiff is the frame material? Do you think it would bow or warp at larger size? I'll keep watching your work to see your progress. Again nice work.

    It stays fairly stiff since it is made of cardstock, but it depends what you do with it. If it is just hanging it should keep its shape just fine :)

    this is as close to actual stained as I have seen for a project! I am teaching about stained to a bunch of kids and I am going to use this as base for them to understand building a window. I think through I may enlarge it and do sun catchers instead.

    2 replies

    That is awesome to hear! Yeah, you can definitely do this on a bigger scale and I actually have other larger projects in mind that use this same concept, just differently :)

    In Step 2 where I talk about the "stained glass" material decision, I mention Cello Sheets and this can be a good cheaper (104 sheets for $8.85) alternative especially if you are going to do a larger scale. The material is harder to work with because it's more fragile, but again, it is cheaper and should be easier to use with bigger projects. Also, the final project will be more fragile.

    Otherwise, you can buy big packs of file folders (like I link to in my supplies) you'll just be a bit more limited on colors. They aren't that expensive depending on how much you'll need just not as cheap as the cello sheets :)

    thanks. I did stained glass design for a living for a few year s and trying to find a way to have people understand that it is not painting on glass is hard. If it was just painting on glass it would be so much easier than what it actually. This much closer to reality than any of the other "stained glass" project I have seen so I am excite to use it to teach.

    Thank you! They are such fun to make and wear :)

    Just the Silhouette Studio program :) If you were going to hand cut them, you could really use any program you wanted.

    Do you think this would work using a Cricut? I don't have a Silhouette machine. : (

    1 reply

    I don't see why not :) They are both just paper cutting machines.

    I don't know if I can get you the files I used (if you have a format you want a design in, let me know and you can test out importing it) but you can definitely design your own and cut them using the techniques above on your Cricut :D

    That is an awesome technique. Using these folders for colored transparent material is genius. Also, your earring design, scaled up a little, would make great rupees from Zelda!

    1 reply

    Thank you! I'm not sure what drew my attention to the folders, but I'm glad it came to mind because it is perfect for this :)

    Rupees from Zelda is actually the design I used for those! Glad you noticed :)