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  • Writer's pictureMixed Media Mel

Reverse Glass Painting on Shadowbox Frame

If you are looking for a weekend project, look no further!! This process is so fun and relaxing and the end result is TA-DA! You can use a simple design or even a photo for this project. Perfect to make for a heartfelt gift or a new masterpiece for your wall!

I stumbled upon a FREE craft class hosted by one of my favorite ladies in both the crafting and pottery industry. Kathy Cano-Murillo aka The Crafty Chica is an amazing artist, author and speaker whom I have had the great pleasure of meeting and taking classes from over the past few years. Recently a lot of crafters have taken to teaching online classes and Michael’s had Kathy create one for them. I was excited to see it available and signed up immediately! The class is "Chica Power!" Reverse Glass Painting for Hispanic Heritage Month. Before starting I made sure I had all of the supplies and figured I would just follow along with her pattern. She had an adorable print out to paint of El Corazon (the heart) in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. I loved it and had already printed it out, but then she said the magic words, “if you want to freestyle.” My brain automatically clicked. I was inspired, and guys, I went on a JOURNEY.

I recently lost my Pap and it has been very hard for me to get through the loss. A few weeks before he passed I came across a drawing at his house that he had made when he was much younger. He said I could have it so I asked him to sign it for me, which he thought was very silly. Since then it has been in a folder on my table because I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do with it. I figured I would frame it but hadn’t gotten to it yet. Maybe I just wasn’t ready. As soon as I heard the magic words, I knew I wanted to use it as my muse for this project. I think I had just been waiting for the right inspiration to help me through it. I will forever be grateful to Kathy for that and for showing me this amazing process which left me with a piece I will cherish forever!

I definitely suggest watching Kathy’s video (link here) along with reading this post both because she is the Queen of this process and her tips are super helpful as she paints on video. Whether you use her pattern or create your own just have fun with it! Most items needed can be found around the house if you craft regularly, I did need to run out for a shadowbox but everything else I already had in the craft lair. Your first step will be to print or sketch your pattern. Keep in mind that the image will be reversed, depending on your design this may or may not be relevant. For my design it didn’t matter because the girls are just looking the opposite way but if you have a more specific design or especially if there is text, you will want to reverse the image. If you use Kathy’s design it is already reversed for you!

Left to right: Original design taped to glass, Black outline completed, Painting Completed.

Once you gather your supplies and have your design make yourself a workspace, I like to put paper down when using acrylic paint. I also taped the design to the glass; this way if you need to move it around to paint you won’t have to readjust your design (I used masking tape). Once everything is in place the first step painting wise is your outline. You can use a thin tipped brush with black paint or a black paint pen. Keep in mind that the image will be reversed so you are working from front to back. Essentially the painted part will act as the back of a photo when placed into the frame. Outline everything first and then begin working backwards to fill in your colors. If you paint outside of your original outline it is an easy fix. If you catch it early you can use a q-tip (or fingertip) to swipe it off; if it has started to dry just use a toothpick or needle tool to scrape it away.

When painting your colors you may need more than one coat, depending on the color and type of paint. I used acrylics and still needed at least 2 coats on most colors. It is very important to let the layers dry before adding another. If not completely dry you can disrupt the first layer, be sure to use your brush gently on your coats to avoid this. Once I was beyond the first coat of paint (after the outline) I removed the pattern from the glass. Being able to flip it over occasionally to see your progress makes it easier to see where you may need more coats or need editing . Once everything is finished and dry you can add a layer of mod podge (only over the painted parts). Your paint will be protected in the frame but this is just an extra step to ensure the longevity of your piece.

Once finished return glass to the frame, facing the painted part inward to expose your reverse painting! You can also decorate the frame if you’d like. I chose to add a quote with it being a tribute piece to my Pap but you could just do whatever you'd like. This is a fun way to add a little more to your piece but depending on your style you can skip this part if you’d like. For the background I chose silver glitter cardstock and really love the final look. Depending on the simplicity or difficulty of your pattern you can choose your background as you see fit. Simply cut it to size and glue or tape to the backing plate on your frame. Now you can reassemble your frame. Once everything is back together you’re done!! Now proudly display it and be sure to tag me on social media if you try it!

What you need:

  • Shadowbox frame

  • Pattern or photo

  • Acrylic paints and brushes

  • Paint pen

  • Toothpick

  • Q-tip(s)

  • Tape

  • Cardstock

  • Mod podge

What to do:

  1. Print out or sketch your design (you could also use a photo but I would recommend something simple)

  2. Create a workspace to keep your table/desk safe

  3. Disassemble frame

  4. Tape pattern to the glass of the frame

  5. Trace outline using thin brush or black paint pen

  6. Fill in colors using brush

  7. Apply additional coats as needed

  8. Edit (scrape) with toothpick as needed

  9. Seal (painted areas only) with mod podge

  10. Add decorations to frame if desired

  11. Reassemble frame and display

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