Skip to main content

Sharpie Art: How to Make a "Stained Glass" Window With a Pen

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

Stained Glass Sharpie Art

Stained Glass Sharpie Art

Sharpie Glass Painting

Doing craft projects with Sharpies promises to be a colorful adventure. Over the years, I’ve created various gifts with Sharpies, and they made wonderful presents.

I collected a few windows from ads on Craigslist thinking I would decorate them and put them around the garden, patio, and even inside my home. After doing an abstract painted flowers project on one window, I still had more windows to do. I was staring at the next window, wondering if I should paint it or if I should try something else. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I wanted to make a “stained glass” of sorts. I didn’t have any stained glass materials, but…I did have Sharpies!

I have lots of Sharpie markers—they’re great for creating handmade cards, labeling, and other craft projects. Having seen how they write on smooth surfaces, I wanted to try my hand at making a “stained glass” with a Sharpie.

Sharpie stained glass window: Before and after.

Sharpie stained glass window: Before and after.

How to Use a Sharpie to Make "Stained Glass"

If you want to replicate this project, I’m here to tell you that minimal artistic skill is required. Basically, you’re drawing lines and more lines and coloring them in.

The work involved is more about cleaning and taking the time to color in the glass. You’ll need to devote at least an afternoon to this project.

What You’ll Need:

  • An old window
  • Glass cleaner
  • Palette knife
  • Razor blade
  • Paper towels
  • Water for rinsing
  • Acrylic craft paint (I used white)
  • Sharpie markers in the colors of your choice; I used black, dark pink, purple, blue and green


  1. Depending on the shape the window is in, you may need to prep the frame by sanding and scraping the old paint off. With the particular window I used, I found that the old paint was still intact and I didn’t need to scrape it.
  2. You do need to clean the window, however. I recommend doing this outside, especially if the window is large. I find it best to take a 1:1 ratio of water to distilled white vinegar and spray onto the glass and wood. Wipe clean with a paper towel and rinse with a hose. Let dry. If you need to, go over the glass with a palette knife or even better, a razor blade to get any stray marks or debris off the glass. Clean again, if necessary.
  3. Once the window is dry, you can then paint the frame. I took my white acrylic craft paint and applied two coats of paint, then I let it dry.
  4. As the paint was drying, I wanted to figure out what I was going to design for the glass. At first, I wanted to do abstract lines and dots. However, I had seen photos of different kinds of op-art and I decided to go with that.

To Do the Op-Art

  1. For the first panel of glass, take a black marker and draw wavy lines from top to bottom. Then draw arcs that point upward in one direction until they get to about the middle, and then change direction.
  2. For the next panel, I changed directions with the wavy lines and drew them horizontally. I drew in arcs going in one direction and then changing direction at about the middle.
  3. I continued to do this, alternating between vertical and horizontal for all the panes of glass.
  4. Once I finished making all the lines, I began to color in the first panel. Using two colors—blue and green—I began to color in the shapes I created. I colored in each separate wavy line, alternating between blue and green. Each column was its own color, and I skipped to every other arc that I made, so that I could create a striped effect. With the blue, I did color in one column to make it solid as a design tool.
  5. I then moved to the next pane of glass, where the lines were horizontal. I used the pink and purple here, and repeated the process that I used for the first pane of glass. I did not create a solid line; I decided to only do that with the blue.
  6. When I finished, I got a pair of eye hooks and screwed them into the top of the window frame. I then attached galvanized steel wire so that I could hang my project.
Different colors have different effects for stained glass.

Different colors have different effects for stained glass.

A Couple Notes About Sharpies

Will it come off?

Once you have drawn on the glass, if you mess up or otherwise don’t like the design, you can spray on some of the vinegar/water solution and start over. If it dries completely, though, you’ll want to use rubbing alcohol to wipe off the glass.

Will any Sharpie work?

Sharpies were invented in 1964. Since then, many types of Sharpies are now on the market. You can get really big and thick Sharpies, or you can get very fine-tipped markers. They come in an array of colors, shapes and for many different types of uses. Some Sharpie colors are more “fluid” than others. The green that I used really seemed to create a “liquid” effect, making it look more stained-glass-like. The other colors didn’t do this as much.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Feltmagnet

What if I make a mistake?

Allow for minor mistakes. The imperfections you create with your hands add to the character of your work. Don’t worry if your color isn’t perfectly inside the lines you made. Those lines are arbitrary anyway.

Shopping Tips

  • Old windows are pretty easy to find on Craigslist or you might have one lying around.
  • Sharpies are available at office supply stores, on eBay, and sometimes in the grocery store.
  • Acrylic paint, eye-hooks, and galvanized steel wire are easy to find at craft supply stores.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun


Pam on August 24, 2018:

Hi Cynthia, beautiful work! Years ago I did my 3 big kitchen windows with Gallery Glass and they turned out great! Now, 15+ years later, they finally are fading. I found GG, finally, but was wondering what else I could use in place of it. Something that would give the same faux stained glass effect, that we could see through. Do U think sharpies would do it? Thanks, Pam

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 14, 2017:

Donna - regular Sharpie markers can leave pen strokes. You can try the poster paint variety or the oil-based Sharpies. Those work really well. :)

Donna on June 13, 2017:

I did some work with sharpies on clear plastic, but I found that it was not smooth, you could see all the pen strokes. Also, the black was not very opaque, more sort of charcoalish & scrappy. Is there something I am missing?

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 12, 2014:

Tiffany - that's right! Haha. The windows are perfect because they can color on something "they're not supposed to color on" and have fun! Oohh...great idea for a snow day like today. haha. Have a great day!

Tiffany Delite from Wichita, KS on February 11, 2014:

thanks for this awesome hub! what a fantastic and creative idea. i feel like turning the kids loose on OUR windows! lol. blessings!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on January 08, 2014:

Green Art - thank you so much! Have a wonderful day. xo

Laura Ross on January 08, 2014:

Great job! Love your color combinations and designs. Voted up and useful!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 29, 2013:

PStraubie - ha! I've had so much fun with these and I've had people commission me to do more of them. :) It's really fun. Thank you for your comments.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 28, 2013:

This is a very unique idea. I have not seen anything like this before reading your article. I am not so good with this kind of art project but this is something by daughter would excel at doing so I am passing this on to her.

Thanks for sharing.

Angels are on the way today ps

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 05, 2013:

Haha, Vicki, I bet you could have LOTS of fun with this. :D

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on April 04, 2013:

This is so cool! I can't draw or paint, but I might have some fun with this! Very cool!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on April 03, 2013:

Awww...Lisa! You're so sweet - you're my butterfly! Thank you so much for sharing. It's wonderful to see you and I hope everything is going just as you need it to be this evening. Many hugs!

Liz Rayen from California on April 03, 2013:

I LOVE this idea my little hummingbird! I have a few window panes that I am going to try this on. What a great always! Voted way up+AUIB and shared all over! ♥

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 16, 2012:

I love it, Ardie!'s SO MUCH fun! Coloring, and not even having to really worry about perfectly keeping in the lines...that makes it even better, hehe. I WOULD LOVE to see pics!! You have to post them for us, k? Pretty please? :D

Sondra from Neverland on September 16, 2012:

I am in LOVE! Its been ages since I've seen a craft that inspired me to hop in my truck ASAP and drive to the nearest window / sharpie store to get started right away. Seriously...abstract designs, coloring, a huge "canvas" with multiple sectioned off squares? What more could a girl ask for?! Awesome Hub Cyndi. I will mail you pics once I have my window done.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 13, 2012:

Movie Master - aww, but you have inspired me, too. I'll always treasure that dandelion hub. *smile* Hehe.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 13, 2012:

You are so creative and artistic, I love this idea - thank you and voted up!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 13, 2012:

Rose - hehe...I can SO see you doing something with this. :D

Alocsin - yes! Small designs with borders are the most effective at creating a stained-glass design.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on September 12, 2012:

I like these abstract expressions on glass -- if you stick with small designs, it's quite effective in simulating stained glass. Voting this Up and Useful.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 12, 2012:

This is beautiful! I never would have guessed that it was made with Sharpies.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 12, 2012:

Stephanie - it's really fun! :D I am going to try more Sharpie projects - I think I've opened a Pandora's box. Hehe. I can just imagine you on your travels with tiny windows hanging around with bird or flower designs on them. I see you doing that! How fun! Hubhugs!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on September 12, 2012:

I never would have thought to use Sharpies as glass paint. Your completed window is so pretty! Thanks for a great idea, the easy to follow instructions and step-by-step photographs! Voted up and pinned!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 12, 2012:

MO! Hehe, you COULD do all your windows. :D One in your beautiful garden would be superb! I love that idea. Thank you so much for coming by. Hubhugs!

Tammy - I love the chain idea! And, I promise you don't have to be a good "drawer" - you just need lines and a few different colors. :) You're creative - yours will be *fabulous* :D

RTalloni - hehe, sorry about the distraction. I'll try to be better. Hehe. You know, I don't know about the other colors being more liquidish. Um...that could be worth a try! I bet a dab of alcohol would do the trick. I'll try it on my next project and see how that works. Great idea!

RTalloni on September 12, 2012:

Your window projects are great! I've been working on some window ideas, but now you've got me distracted. :) Do you think the other colors would become more liquidish(?) (like the green) if you put a dot of alcohol or vinegar on the tip of the other colors?

Tammy from North Carolina on September 12, 2012:

Wow! I have never seen this before. It is so colorful and unique. I am not a good drawer by hand. This looks a little beyond my abilities, but your directions make it look possible. That would be gorgeous hung on a chain. I LOVE it!

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on September 12, 2012:

I'm tempted to go and do all my windows. Of course that would probably not be a good I have seen some old windows at a few yard sales and flea markets. Maybe I'll create one for my garden. Thanks for the neat hub and ideas.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 12, 2012:

Teaches - fun, fun! I bet it would look awesome! :D I hope you get some time to try this - so relaxing and fun!

Austinstar - I'm thinking you could experiment on a surface with a spray-on acrylic sealer. I didn't do that personally because I figure I can wipe the design off and do another when I get bored with it, hehe. But, yeah, you could experiment with a clear sealer. My instinct - since I haven't tried it - would be to lay it on a flat surface and spray - not wipe - on. Then, let it dry completely. Once dry, you could then hang it and yes, it would last a lot longer. :) Good point!

RHW - I bet you can find old windows at flea markets, too. Thanks for stopping by! Put it over the kitchen window. Hehe.

Audrey - Thank you so much! Hubhugs!

Audrey Howitt from California on September 12, 2012:

Love this!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on September 12, 2012:

This is super awesome! Very cool! Thanks I really am gonna try to find an old window. We have lots of flea markets and stuff I bet I could score there. Thanks! I love this!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on September 12, 2012:

After you are done with the project, do you spray the window with any kind of sealant? I would think spraying it with a clear coat of acrylic along with some UV protection would make the designs last forever.

This certainly looks great and now I wish I had kept my old windows. I had some replaced last year. Oh well, I'm sure I can find some somewhere.

Cool project!

Dianna Mendez on September 12, 2012:

Very nice. I think that having one of these over our front door would make the entrance way attractive. The light coming through would make the inside pretty as well. If I had the time, I would attempt one of these creative designs. Well done and voted up.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 12, 2012:

Jennyjenny - I love that idea! I can't wait to see a hub about that. Hehe. Thanks for stopping by!

Mary615 - The light shines through the glass beautifully! Very cool that you've done faux stained glass work. I'll have to check out that hub!

Faith Reaper - How cool that your son works with Sharpies! Paint is SO expensive - and I have a hard time limiting myself to one medium, so I do lots of them. :D Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you try this. :)

Teresa - Thanks so much! It IS a fun, relaxing project to tackle. Hehe. Hubhugs!

Billybuc - Hehe, I might be artistic, but I promise, you don't have to draw a straight line - at all. Hehe. In fact, the curvier, the better. :D Hubhugs, Big Bro!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2012:

Well of course it's easy for you, Sis! You're artistic! I can't even draw a straight line. LOL Great ideas and I love the finished product. Hooray for Cyndi!

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on September 11, 2012:

Great hub Cyndi! Very creative. Looks like a relaxing but fun project to tackle!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on September 11, 2012:

These are amazing. My son, who is an artist (24) draws a lot with sharpies, as paint is so expensive, but I never thought of the stained-glass aspect of sharpies. How beautiful these are depicted here. I may just have to give that a try! Excellent hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Mary Hyatt from Florida on September 11, 2012:

I never thought of using Sharpies to paint a window! Does the light shine through the glass. You know I've done faux stain glass work using glass paint that turned out wonderfully. I wrote a Hub about that if you'd like to read it. I really like your design you did on this window.

I voted this Hub UP.

jennyjenny from Somewhere in Michigan on September 11, 2012:

Great idea! How cute would it be to hang these with openings for pictures or artwork in the center like a stained glass frame! Thanks for sharing!

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on September 11, 2012:

Carol - aww, thank you so much! I have more Sharpie projects in the works, hehe. Now, to get them published! I appreciate all the votes and shares! You are a gem! Lots of hubhugs coming your way!

carol stanley from Arizona on September 11, 2012:

What a creative idea. I am inspired to find an old window and start this. I am really amazed and think you did a gorgeous job. Thanks for sharing this hub...I am bookmarking, voting up and sharing. I am looking at glass in a new way. Oops forgot.. I am also pinning and tweeting