Tissue paper stained glass art: A vintage Christmas craft from 1961
From Home & Garden magazine – December 1961: For the fifth year in succession, H&G has designed an exclusive series of Christmas decorations: Translucent color panels to make your rooms blaze with jewel-toned light.
Light streaming through stained glass seems to have a special power to stir the emotions. “Mysticism passing through a window,” Marc Chagall calls it, and it seems to fill even the stoniest Scrooges among us with joy, awe, buoyancy and a sense of peace.
The basic principle of stained glass — translucent color defined by decorative motifs — is the theme of H&G’s Christmas decorations for 1961.
Our inspiration as you might expect was a church — no majestic cathedral but a homemade lantern, fashioned in the shape of a church, that we brought back from Haiti.
We were on a mountain road at dusk when we came across five little Haitian boys carrying the Christmas lanterns they had made from cardboard cartons and colored tissue paper.
Candlelight flickered through the pseudo stained-glass windows and gave each lantern a suffused glow. We bought three of the lanterns.
Make your own translucent color panels for the holidays
We borrowed the idea of cardboard and colored tissue paper, but we translated it into Color Panels (tissue paper stained glass art) that you can put together yourself in limitless ways to make your rooms radiant for Christmas.
H&G’s Color Panels are made of cardboard — gold on one side, black on the other. Each panel contains eight squares, and each square is stamped with a profusion of motifs that you can punch out in any combination that strikes your fancy to produce a variety of designs.
Then, you apply to the back the colored tissue paper that comes in the package with the panels.
You can keep the panels intact and use them flat. You can fold them into three-dimensional shapes. Or, you can cut the squares apart, remove the frames and use the designs remaining as individual snowflake motifs.
All you need to work with, in addition to the Color Panels, are rubber cement (for applying the tissue paper), double-faced masking tape (for attaching flat panels to flat surfaces), nylon filament tape and black and gold cloth tape.
To make a three-dimensional design you lay the tissue-backed sections wrong-side-up on a table and join them with nylon filament tape. Fold into shape: join outside edges with cloth tape in black or gold to match outside of your ornament.
The decorations you can make with these Color Panels range all the way from big-scale stained-glass designs for large windows to individual ornaments for gift packages. You could use them to dress up a screen for Christmas, slide them under the glass top of a coffee table, or use them as placemats.
More ways to use tissue paper stained glass art decor
Here are seven more ideas for making your house luminous for Christmas.
1. You can create the luminous effect of stained glass — translucent Color Panels can turn a whole window into a magical filter of light. To achieve this effect on a cathedral scale, cover the lower three-quarters of the window with rectangular Color Panels, and top them with triangles.
2. Attach the panels to the window with double-faced cellophane tape. If you want to cover the window completely but find the panels do not quite reach the edges, fill out gaps with black or gold cloth tape, depending upon which side of the Color Panel is exposed.
3. Fairy-like pendants made of color-backed snowflake motifs add extra holiday sparkle to a chandelier. The pendants are attached with a fine wire, might also be used for this purpose without color backing.
4. A color panel lantern, reminiscent of a colonial dogberry’s, shines in a niche framed with princess pine.
5. A snowflake-encrusted newel post gleams with prismatic splendor. Finial made from six triangles fits over the newel post’s own finial.
6. Color Panels shaped into little boxes could be hung from a ceiling or over a doorway in chandelier fashion, or you could insert tiny Christmas tree lights and turn the boxes into lanterns.
7. A project for the children: Make a Christmas planter from a sturdy cardboard carton. Cover it first with white oil-based paint (to glow through the colored tissue paper), then with paper-backed Color Panels.
SEE MORE VINTAGE CHRISTMAS CRAFTS
- Have a crafty Christmas! Retro holiday decor you can make with ideas from the ’60s
- DIY gift wrap with fabulous flowery tissue paper poufs: A step-by-step how-to (1964)
- Easy wax & tissue paper flowers: How to make this colorful retro craft