Introduction: Melted Bead Sun Catcher

Picture of Melted Bead Sun Catcher

These are so pretty and ridiculously easy and inexpensive!
It's a fun activity for kids, too, if you let them design the colors and patterns of the beads. Just make sure a grown up does the baking because the plastic gets HOT!

Please take a moment to check out my other instructables and vote for the ones you like!!

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need
  • Cheapy plastic 'pony' beads (available at craft stores for around $5 for a pound)
  • A cookie cutter and cookie sheet or muffin tins or other shape nonstick metal cooking vessel (it doesn't ruin the pan.. you can still use it for food later)
  • an oven, set to 400°
  • Jewelry wire, or glass or metal beads and ribbon

Step 2: Getting It Ready to Bake

Picture of Getting It Ready to Bake

Put a layer or two of plastic beads into the cookie cutter, set on the cookie sheet (or in the baking container of your choice).
You can drop them in randomly or choose certain colors or set them in a pattern, depending on the look you are going for.
If you want to leave a hole in the suncatcher to string ribbon through, place a glass or metal bead somewhere near the top (making sure there are plastic beads completely surrounding it) Make sure the bead is sitting directly on the pan and no plastic beads are covering the hole.  The glass or metal bead won't melt, but the plastic will, and will adhere to the unmelted bead, leaving you a perfect stringing hole.
I am using wire to hang this one, so I didn't use a glass bead.

Step 3: Bake

Picture of Bake

Place your container in a preheated oven (400°).  Open a window.  The plastic smells a bit when it's hot.
Bake it for about 20 minutes (check every 5 or so minutes on the progress.)
Once it's all melted together, it's time to take it out!
CAREFULLY, using potholders, remove it from the oven.
Sit it aside to let it cool. 
Don't touch the plastic!  It's very hot!!

(The line in the picture isn't a crack.. it's an airbubble.  Sometimes I get them, but once they are hanging in the window, you can't see them)

Step 4: Remove From Mold

Picture of Remove From Mold

Once the plastic is cooled (about 5 minutes or so), remove it from the pan.  It should pop out easily.  (If you are quiet while it's cooling, you can hear cracking sounds as it pulls away from the mold.  Kind of neat, and it doesn't mean it's breaking!)

Step 5: Prepare to Hang

Picture of Prepare to Hang

If you used a bead, you will have a hole through which you can string ribbon or thread to display your new suncatcher.  If you didn't, you can wrap it with wire and create your own hanging mechanism.
I used wire, wrapping it back and forth and around until I liked the way it looked.
I used round nose pliers to create some loops in the hanging part of the wire.
Then, I twisted the end of the wire to part of the wire that was wrapped around my star.

Step 6: Done!

Picture of Done!

Hang in a window or other well lit area and enjoy!

Step 7: Example With Glass Bead Holes

Picture of Example With Glass Bead Holes

These were made in a cupcake pan, with one glass bead in each, so they each have a hole for stringing.

Comments

PinsB (author)2017-08-28

That turn out to be nice :)

chantel333 (author)2015-12-17

OK i love this idea. I am going to try this out tomorrow. I have giant cookie cutters shaped like tea pots and moons etc. thinking of sticking or gluing a small wire rod to back as a garden ornament! Will post pick if it turns out.

crystal.maddy.5 (author)2015-03-18

Thank you! Just took my first batch out of the oven and popped them out. Waiting for the second batch. I have some sharp edges sticking up. Not sure whether to worry about it or not and/or if it will even be noticeable after I apply the wire and hang them. Yours look so smooth.

joyce.anderson.maurer (author)2015-01-18

Another solution that eliminates multiple issues related to the use of a drill, getting burned and/or risk of cacking a melted bead project. That being said, they are as follows;

CREATING A HOLE FOR HANGING CATCHERS, PRE-melt stage:

Once you've created a pattern of beads on your melting pan, place a glass, wood, metal, ceramic or clay piece, that is open at both ends, in your non-melted bead pattern where you'd normally create a hole once it's cooled.

Neither of the materials you choose to create your 'hole' for hanging, will melt @ the temperature needed to melt beads, w/the exception of some glass'

COOKIE CUTTER ALTERNATIVE:

Use a 2 metal coat hangers to creat a shape, the depth of 2 is above a row of beads.

Automobile, plumbing and home repair metal or insulated metal tape, folded over. It sustains any shape, won't melt, is easier to create than a coat hanger and, is less costly than buying identical cutter shapes in bulk, multiple single shapes and, molds w/shapes.

Foil, folded over, to choice of height and shape.

Trace a shape onto wax paper, freehand.

Cut a shape out of milk cartons, any paper, glass, plexi-glass, metal or plastic.

(Note) whichever alternative cutter you use that is listed, I'd always stencil it onto the sheet under the beads as well. Stenciling a shape on foil or wax paper w/either a permanent black marker or crayon, is sufficient.

SECONDARY MOLD, COOLING & TIME OF COOLING:

when one removes and transfers the hot melted bead mold from its 1st of 2 melting molds, to a secondary melting mold, that allows the melted mold to finish molding-hardening-cooling into a desired shape.

Do not use any final shaping or cooling mold that absorbs the heat from the hot mold itself, retains the heat, increasing the risk of being both burned and cooling time.

Use clay, cloth, aluminum, cardboard, wood, sand, pebbles, BBQ briquettes, chilled objects, lukewarm water slowly cooled w/ice or cool water, or thick commercial plastic objects.

(Note) using non-heat absorbing secondary molds reduces the odor much more quickly.

lnkcoughlin (author)2014-12-22

Making these right now! My kids make ornaments every year for our extended family members and my daughter decided to make some dog and dog-bone shaped ornaments using the melted pony bead tutorial. They are turning out super cute! ONE NOTE: I would absolutely NOT do this inside. The fumes are so strong that we can smell them outside even with our toaster oven over on the other side of the yard. Can't be good to inhale those fumes. Other than that, these are turning out beautifully and my daughter is excited to hand them out to everyone. Thanks for the idea! :)

In my extensive research of melting pony beads and having never made any, though i will be w/in the week, about 1/2 of the crafters comments mention the smell.

So I thought about some solutions that may eliminate some or all of the smell, regardless of where one may melt the beads. Each of the odor eliminating and containment solutions, basic objective, are the same as the 1st possible solution. They are as follows;

OVEN COOKING BAG

Covering and securely closing the entire metal pan used to melt the beads prior to and through the cooling stage, seems like it would contain @ least the bulk of the smell, if not most of it. (Allowing one to make an unlimited amount of them)

FOIL TENT; DIY LID:

Just like when one does when they want to contain the release of heat and steam created through the duration of covering an oversized turkey or ham w/foil, that the top 2 halves of foil have been crimped ie both sides of the foil combined as 1 by folding each side together, then crimped, repeating the crimping process 2 or 3 times.

GLASS BAKING DISH; WITH A LID:

Replacing the method of using both the standard metal pan, and the foil tent lid option.

GLASS BAKING DISH; WITHOUT A LID:

Replacing the method of using both the standard metal pan, and the foil tent lid option.

CLAY POT; W/AND W/OUT A LID

Replacing the method of using both a metal or glass pan, and the glass lid or foil tent lid options.

ODOR ELIMINATING ELECTRICAL DEVICE

An additional method that compliments anyone of, or all of, the methods previously listed.

joyce.anderson.maurer (author)2015-01-18

what about setting the beads 1st, then flatten the wire wrap somewhat and lay it on top of the beads w/the handle obviously bent upward above the bead height ie incorporating the wire right into the catcher for a different, yet similar, effect.

Even if the wire isn't fully incorporated into the melted beads, @ a minimum, 1/2 of the wires side would be, and the other 1/2 exposed on the outside of the catcher as originally created.

Just a thought.

jessica.pare.18 (author)2014-12-29

can we use other plastic beads ?

donna.p.lacroix (author)2014-12-11

I made 28 for Christmas presents, all different shapes. My daughter, 8, was able to help put the beads in I did the baking and wire work. They turned out GREAT! Exactly the right amount of baking time and cooling time listed. Very happy. Thanks for the PIN!

I used one pound of beads clear colored beads and 20 gauge wire (1 roll plus a little more on another roll) to make 28.

amanda.mae.946 (author)2014-11-23

I tried this on the grill and had good results. It did take a bit longer than 20 min, but turned out really well. I don't have any metal cookie cutters, yet, so I used mini bunt cake pans. Already has the hole in the middle which I put ribbon through.

nikki.may1 (author)2014-09-30

Just bought myself a second hand toaster oven ($10) to use outside as I have a heap of plastic beads I have had for years, going to experiment tomorrow :)

kangel1 (author)2013-07-19

have you tried adding anything to the plastic other than the holes for beads, like glitter or something?

I saw one where they added wood so it turned out like a stained glass window. Kinda cool.

ItzBreezyYo (author)2013-06-26

Wow. That seems cool but I don't want to find those beads. It's work to find them

Nah, they're all over the place. Wal-Mart sells them, craft stores sell them. I found some really fun ones with glitter in them on amazon. If you haven't tried it yet and still kinda want to, it's noproblem getting what you need

trose10 (author)ItzBreezyYo2014-03-11

http://www.ponybeadstore.com/

natalie.h.brown.5 (author)2014-08-06

I have only just recently learned about this craft and knew I just HAD to try it. So much fun. Not wanting the fumes in my house, I used my toaster oven outside. It works like a charm! I may just go a little crazy with this one.

indysailor (author)2014-06-13

Has anyone done this in a microwave with a microwave kiln????

StrangeDucks (author)2013-07-19

I have tried adding glitter. It doesn't work very well. It all kind of settled to the bottom, under the plastic and wiped off when it was cool.

StrangeDucks (author)2013-06-26

If you put a glass bead with a large hole or a hex nut in before you bake it, that will stay in place and be your hole to insert a hanger. Have fun!

kangel1 (author)StrangeDucks2013-07-19

You might also be able to run a wire in, but the glass bead is probably the easiest route. In addition to the hex nut or bead, you could use a metal grommet. Sewing and craft shops have them in silver, gold/brass, and black regularly, but usually also have an assortment pack painted in various colors.

Roessboss (author)2013-07-10

I did mine all one color... Gorgeous

StrangeDucks (author)2013-06-30

DON'T use a glass container.. I'm not sure why, but I had a lot more fumes when I tried it in glass! Also, I've heard you can do this outside on the grill to eliminate fumes in the house, but I haven't tried it yet.

charlieanderin (author)2013-06-30

OMG amazing soo going to do it no matter what "toxic" fumes it puts of mnmama

aqua 12 (author)2013-06-26

This is totally cool

mnmama (author)2013-06-26

I'm thinking great Christmas ornaments/gifts for low $$. What a good looking craft.
Does anyone know though, if the fumes could be harmful to kids and other small animals? Kidding of course, love kids AND animals, but I wonder if melting plastic is safe for people and environment. If so, opening a window may diffuse the damage, but not remove it. Any scientists around?

elizruge (author)2013-06-26

This looks like something fun to do with my daughter. Do you think there's any way to make a hole in it for a hanger, maybe before baking?

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