Want to make a cheery butterfly suncatcher with kids? It’s surprisingly easy with nothing but black glue, sharpie markers and some recyclables.
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When I first saw drawings created with black glue, they reminded me of stained glass. I actually thought I was looking at stained glass paintings. I had to look closely to see that it was paper. Then I was curious how well black glue would work on transparent surfaces, like glass or clear plastic, so a new project idea formed in my head.
How to Make Black Glue
But first – what exactly is black glue and how to make it at home? It’s really simple and cheap. The idea is to mix black acrylic paint with white Elmer’s glue, and then use the bottle with a nozzle that the glue comes in.
I must say I had a lot of questions about this new technique. What should I do with the excess glue? How much paint to add? Will I need to mix it for a very long time? The truth is, it all turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined!
- Pour the excess glue into an empty yogourt container. Glue can be used for a different art project or simply applied with a brush when you need to glue something.
- The opinions differ on how much paint to add. My proportions were approximately 1:2 (one part glue, two parts paint). I poured 2/3 glue out of the bottle and substituted it with black acrylic paint by squeezing it right into the bottle.
- After that, I shook the bottle of glue for about one minute, tried my mix on a scrap piece of paper, and it was ready!
So what is special about black glue? The combination of acrylic paint and glue results in a mix that flows smoothly (more so than if you used straight acrylic paint!) and dries into slightly raised lines (easy to colour inside). When everything is said and done, it’s also a lot cheaper than dedicated stained glass leads you can buy. The surprising thing? Black glue is also better. I’m saying that because I tried the specialized lead the very same day for comparison, and I have tried different ones in the past. The paint dried faster, but it didn’t flow as well as the glue. Still, it’s a valid option if you’d rather buy a dedicated stained glass lead, and so is buying packaged black glue!
How to Make Suncatchers with Black Glue
Besides the black glue, you will need some piece of clear plastic – use an empty plastic container from the store (the kind they sell fruits and pastries in ), a plastic folder with clear sheets or an empty laminating pouch that has been run through a laminator. You will also need a design – you can download our free butterfly silhouettes at the end of the post!
You can tape the design to the plastic piece to keep them in place, which is particularly useful if a kid is doing this part. My 4-year-old doesn’t have a hand steady enough for this exercise, so I enjoyed doing this part. Drawing the outlines was relaxing. You can influence the boldness of lines by how hard you squeeze the bottle. And sometimes you don’t need to squeeze at all, but just guide where the line goes.
I took this photograph to show how raised the outlines are. They flatten a little as they dry, but still present very compelling borders, convenient for young artists who like to colour.
Let the design dry overnight. Now, the question is – how to colour the clear plastic? I tried a couple of stained glass paints, but when everything was said and done, the easiest and the cheapest way was to use sharpies. My son could use them without difficulty, and the result was vibrant and consistent!
This is my butterfly.
And here is my son, working on one made from a different design.
The last step is to cut the butterflies out. Since the surface we painted on is translucent, you don’t need to cut very close to the lines. For instance, you can leave plastic around antennae. As a result, even children who aren’t very adept at using scissors can do a good job!
Download the Free Template