Creating paper glass Chihuly art


Whenever it is too a cold, too wet to play outside or children are sick, grandparents can take out a few art supplies and try a new easy craft. It’s always good to be prepared. This craft is based on the famous contemporary glass lamps and sculptures of Dale Chihuly found in beautiful buildings around the world.

You will need  some coffee filters, non-permanent markers, spray starch, a yogurt container or plastic cup about the size of the middle of a coffee filter and battery-operated tea lights. 

If you and the children search Google images of “Dale Chihuly glass,” children will get inspiration for their own paper glass “macchia,” which means spotted in Italian. The spotted glass they will make can be used for dishes or a candle holder with a little nonflammable light in the middle.

Paper glass

To make the paper glass, cut around a coffee filter edge to make it scalloped or slightly uneven in no particular pattern. Flatten out the filter and make a series of rows of scribbles like short, tightly-closed tents with different colors. Children should make each color about half-an-inch-wide before starting another color around the filter. They can also make different colored dots. Looking at the images of the Chilhuly glass will help get across the idea that one color is going to bleed into the other. Blue next to yellow will bleed into green. Red next to blue will bleed into purple. If children want to stick to primary colors, leave a large space between them. Children can make each filter different or make a set that look the same.

Once children have made jagged lines, spots and blobs, drape the coffee filter over an upside down plastic cup or individual yogurt container. Place some newspapers under the containers. Apply spray starch to the filter until the marker colors blend and the coffee filter is completely wet. Allow the filters to dry and do not touch them.

Once dry they will be translucent and mimic the look of Chihuly glass. They will be as delicate as glass but will not break. If they are gifts, place them in a box with tissue paper tucked around them. They will keep their shape if not handled too roughly. There is also a short film on Vimeo at

Flower bouquet

Coffee filters come in handy for a variety of children’s art projects. Sprayed with starch or not they can be painted with water colors and attached with pipe cleaners for a floral bouquet. They can be flattened and placed in a window to add a stained-glass look to a child’s room.

Esther Macalady is a retired schoolteacher in Golden. For more, see and Through the Seasons.


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