July 17, 2012

Melted Bead Suncatchers

When I saw this idea for melted bead suncatchers a few weeks ago at The Artful Parent, I put it right at the top of our "must do" list.  We had the plastic pony beads and the baking tins already, so we were good to go.  Following a suggestion in the comments of Jean's post, we decided to melt our beads outside on our gas grill instead of inside in the oven.  The beads melted quite quickly and there was very little melting plastic smell to worry about.

Check it out...


Here are the simple supplies needed:


That's right.  Just some plastic beads (we used a combination of translucent colored beads and some pastel glow-in-the-dark ones) and metal baking pans ( I happened to have some heart-shaped pans as well as regular mini muffin pans)


Here's what to do:

1.  Preheat your oven or grill to about 450 degrees. (I used our grill, put the burners on high, then shut the lid.)

2.  Arrange your beads in a single layer in the bottom of your pan.  We did some patterns and some just random.


3.  Put your pans with your beads in the hot oven or grill.  If you're using a grill, close the lid to help keep in the heat and speed up the process.  Check the progress every few minutes.  (The suncatchers we did in the mini muffin trays took about 5 minutes, the ones in the bigger pans took closer to 10 minutes).  You will smell some melting plastic, but it's not too overpowering outdoors.  

You can see how the beads in the pans on the left are just starting to melt, while the ones on the right are fully melted.


4. When the beads have melted completely, CAREFULLY remove the pan.  It will be VERY hot!  Set it aside until it cools completely.  (Doesn't take long, maybe 10-15 minutes).   Then, simply tap the bottom of the pan and the suncatcher will pop right out.




 5.  Using a drill, make a small hole in your suncatchers so you can hang them up.




 Attach some strings and that's it, your suncatchers are ready to sparkle and shine in the sunlight!

  
Oh, and remember how I said we used some glow-in-the-dark beads too?  While they weren't quite as colorful hanging up in the sunlight, they do look pretty cool glowing at night.



My kids had so much fun making these and we'll definitely be trying them again!

Sharing our suncatchers at:

33 comments:

  1. I love the giant heart! I've been wondering what other things I have around the house to use as molds. This is such a fun project :)

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  2. What a fun idea!! They look really cool!

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  3. This is awesome! I think I am adding these to our cousin camp agenda!

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  4. We just made these today, and then ran across your blog. So much fun!!! I keep trying to come up with molds to use other than muffin tins but I have a lot of silicone baking dishes and I just don't think the grill is the best place for those. Quite excited to make these many more times. I foresee these as grandparent gifts in our near future.

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  5. We just made these today, and then ran across your blog. So much fun!!! I keep trying to come up with molds to use other than muffin tins but I have a lot of silicone baking dishes and I just don't think the grill is the best place for those. Quite excited to make these many more times. I foresee these as grandparent gifts in our near future.

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  6. They are so much fun. I agree, I want to find more shapes to use as well. I don't think the silicone will hold up to the higher temps needed to melt the plastic. I thought about using metal cookie cutters on a baking sheet, but my either my cookie cutters or the baking sheets were a little warped, because I couldn't get them to lay completely flat so the melting plastic wouldn't ooze under the cookie cutter. I may keep trying with different cutters and different baking sheets, because you can get the cookie cutters in tons of shapes.

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  7. I've been wanting to make these but it's so hot I didn't want to turn the oven on & then have to deal with the melting plastic smell. But that is a great idea to do them outside on the grill! Won't heat up the house or stink it up either :D

    I love the heart shapes & the dangles idea too! I saw some patriotic ones on Pinterest that were done inside star shaped cookie cutters so you might try them for different shapes.

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  8. Awesome step by step pictures. :) hoping to make these in a few with the kids since its an inside kinda day!

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  9. Great idea! Going make that with my daughters this week! Liz

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  10. These are so pretty and now top of my to do list too!

    Thanks for linking to the Sunday showcase.

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  11. I tried melting plastic beads in a muffin pan and they melted but were stuck to the pan,
    I threw it all out.

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  12. Oh no! Mine popped right out as soon as they were cooled completely. I'm not sure why yours stuck!

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  13. My husband and the kids tried these today but sadly, they caught fire and kinda blew up inside the gas grill, which now has a plastic lining...whoops! I'm not fully giving up on these...yet. Do you think it matters what brand of beads you use? We used just cheap ones from Walmart.

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  14. Oh no, Cassandra!! I got my beads at JoAnn's but I'd imagine they are the same things. Maybe just try them for a shorter amount of time.

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  15. I love this idea. When doing them on the grill, do you put the pans over the direct heat of the flame, or indirect?

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  16. Jennifer, I tried not to put the pans directly over the flames but a little more to the sides.

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  17. Do you need to spray the pan before placing the beads? The plastic won't stick?

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    1. Ann, I didn't spray them at all and it worked fine without sticking to my pans. (I'm pretty sure they were nonstick pans). I did wait until they were completely cool and then they popped right out.

      However, a previous commenter said hers did stick to her pans. Perhaps you can do a quick test before you do it with the kids.

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  18. How about making free made forms of all different kids with tin foil? Think that would work? Then you wouldn't have to worry about damaging your good pans?

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    1. It's definitely worth a try. The only problem might be if your forms weren't completely smooth the liquid plastic would seep into the little cracks and be bumpier (does that make sense?) However, lining your pans with tin foil, and really pressing it down to make it as smooth as possible might give you good shapes in a solid pan, without damaging the pan itself.

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  19. OTHER MOLD IDEAS are to use cookie-cutter shapes. There's all sizes and kinds at hobby stores

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  20. I'm excited to try this, thinking maybe of using a large truck tin cake pan I have, although a little nervous as it's more tin and not sure how non stick....but if I keep an eye out and use the grill then maybe my little guy can have a large boy oriented one. I also have a pony pan (same type)...both these I got at garage sales, so I would suggest people look to second hand sources from people who bake at ome.

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  21. I bought a heart cake pan from goodwill to do these..I wasnt excpecting to see that the scratches on the bottom of the pan was on the melted bead pattern too..So if you can figure out a way to make the pan flat it might look better. I am having a hard time with them sticking in the pan as well. Tried to spray with cooking spray and I believe that is coming through when all done too..

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  22. Sometimes you can get shaped foil pans at walmart (seasonal) like hearts around valentines day, these are cheap and you can toss them after use and not have to worry about ruining your good pans

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  23. I just did mine on parchment paper in the oven, big mistake the melted to the paper. It may work out as book markd

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  24. I made some on my grill yesterday. I used a cake pan and muffin pans I picked up at the dollar store. I had no problems with them popping right out once the pan cooled. I just kept checking them every few minutes to make sure I caught them before we had any accidents. I had the grill more towards low and it only took a few minutes for the beads to melt.

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  25. Does anybody know if these fumes that are emitted when melting are toxic? Thanks

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  26. Easy bake muffin tins work great! Thanks for the fun idea. Dad in Sedro

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  27. Did some of you get the beads stucked into the pan and find a solution to unstuck them ?
    If so, please share it :-)

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    1. Sorry, mine didn't stick at all. I waited till it was all the way cool, so maybe that helped?

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  28. How bad are the fumes from the melting beads if you use the oven? Can you reuse your plans for cooking again after melting plastic beads in them? ?

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  29. How bad are the fumes from the melting beads if you use the oven? Can you reuse your plans for cooking again after melting plastic beads in them? ?

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