Now that Maia is on summer vacation, we have been using Daphne’s nap time to read and, often, to work on an art or craft project together.
The melted bead suncatchers were surprisingly easy to create yet are very durable. Unlike most suncatchers and stained glass projects we make out of paper or contact paper, these melted bead suncatchers will last and last and will also withstand the elements for outdoor use.
HERE’S HOW WE MADE OUR MELTED BEAD SUNCATCHERS
We started with cheap, translucent pony beads. I bought ours at our local A.C. Moore, but they are available on Amazon and Discount School Supply as well.
Maia and I each arranged the pony beads into a single layer in metal baking dishes. She started with a cake pan but was soon daunted by the size and switched to the smaller muffin tin sections.
By the way, I was skeptical about melting the plastic beads in my baking dishes. I half thought that they would never come out and I’d be stuck with ruined pans, but that wasn’t the case. As soon as a bead suncatcher was cool, it popped right out and didn’t leave any visible residue at all!
Here are Maia’s beads, ready to be melted and fused together.
While Maia created several smaller suncatchers, I used the cake pan to make one large suncatcher. I arranged my beads to form a sun as you can see in the partially completed design above.
We melted the beads in the oven at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. They could probably have used a few more minutes, but I was starting to freak out about the melting plastic smell. I don’t know why it came as a surprise to me, but it did.
I opened all the windows, turned on all the fans, and took the kids outside to play while the beads melted. I didn’t want any of us to breathe the fumes. Once the suncatchers were melted, I took them outside to cool on the hood of the car.
(By the way, once the suncatchers were “cooked,” I sprayed some Febreze around the house and the smell went away immediately. Awesome! I don’t know much about the stuff, though, and wonder if it just masks the smell (it didn’t seem like it — I used one without a scent) or if it somehow removes the particles from the air or makes them inert. I’m awfully curious now.)
UPDATE (5/23/12): We’ve since made all of our melted bead suncatchers on the gas grill outside, thanks to a comment from Lou. It works great and only takes about 10 minutes! Some readers have been using a toaster oven outside, which may be another good solution.
Once the suncatchers were cool, I inverted the pans and they popped right out! As you can see from the somewhat pebbly surface, they probably could have used a few more minutes in the oven.
Harry drilled a small hole in each with the power drill, then strung some old kite string through the holes to hang them up.
We hung the melted bead suncatchers on the front porch to catch the morning sunlight.
Aren’t they lovely? Maia has already said she wants to make more and I have to admit that I’m eager to try different colors and designs myself. I think they would make great gifts as well.
By the way, look how the round beads melted into hexagons. We thought it was pretty cool how they melted to take up the space around them so evenly.
Although when the beads were more widely spaced or set on their sides, some melted into rectangles and pentagons.
Now we have a riot of colorful melted bead suncatchers to join the melted crayon stained glass bunting on the porch!