Melting Beads for Suncatchers
I did a search on melting beads and found soooo many different techniques, which made me realize there were lots of ways to do this. Also, it takes some trial and error. The following way-too-long post is an account of what I found to be the best way to melt pony beads.
First off, a warning. Melting plastic beads smell terrible. You’ll be wanting to either:
- Haul your toaster oven outside.
- Make these on a lovely day where you can open all of your windows, blow a fan, and take yourself and your family outside while they are cooking.
- Melt them on an outside grill, which I have not tried, but heard about as a possibility.
I knew about this horrific smell from my previous plastic-melting-project, Chihuly cups. It’s so worth it.
I bought a large container of mixed translucent pony beads to mess around with, and also a smaller packet of clear faceted beads.
Hilariously, my first attempt at a suncatcher had me fussily arranging the beads into a lovely flower shape, with other beads surrounding the flower inside my large circular cookie cutter. I even used tweezers to replace fallen over beads and rearrange some colors.
Please don’t do this. I quickly realized that this is an imprecise art form, and you’re better off approaching it loosely, with a basic arrangement of the beads and the understanding that you can control exactly how the beads will melt. Go for general coolness and experimentation over perfection.
Another little mistake I made was buying a 3-pack circle cookie cutter set and thinking I could make some fancy circle shapes from the beads.
They do look pretty cool if you pull them off of the cutters at the exact right time, but leave them to cool for too long and the plastic will shrink around the inner cookie cutters. Then you have reheat them and pull the hot, gooey mess of plastic off with a potholder. Not fun. Ruined potholder. Excuse to go to Target.
pony beads (translucent)
fishing line or string
Add beads to inside of cookie cutter or muffin tin and bake in a preheated 400 degree toaster oven for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes and pop them out of the cookie cutters/muffin tins. Hang with fishing line.
The first few suncatchers I made in the toaster oven with the largest cookie cutter. (See top photo)
After those, my ADHD kicked in and I felt the need to make a lot of them, quickly, so I didn’t have to wait for one at a time to cool. Muffin tin to the rescue. Beckett and I sorted out separate bead colors in different muffin pods and then switched a few beads around to mix up the colors a bit.
This was totally fun because you get a lot of small suncatchers popping out of the oven and the muffin tin at once. And they do pop right out if you let them cool for a few minutes. We were all set to CATCH THAT SUN.
I also found that the faceted clear beads melted faster than the colorful beads, leaving them with a more smooth finish and the colorful beads with a bumpier finish. They also look really cool when they melt all the way- like a bunch of mini constellations have been captured in a wee disc of plastic.
Of course, when I tried my inside oven, the beads melted faster than in my toaster oven, so I definitely recommend keeping an eye on these babies while they are baking.
I like them better when they are just melted together, with some of the beads keeping a hexagonal shape and bumpy surface, as opposed to totally melted into plastic goo.
More Melted Bead Suncatcher Photos!
Ooh yeah pin it!