Bead-dazzle me a Sun-Catcher!

I came across this really interesting sun-catcher on Follow Me on Pinterest. I love this site! I love sharing on it and I love to find nifty little creations that I can do at home myself. As you all I know I love to craft anything I can get my hands on. My first day on Pinterest I thought I was losing my eyesight, I was soooooo addicted to pinning that my eyes were burning. I think I woke up with a Pinterest hangover. If you haven’t tried Pinterest, then I suggest you check it out!

So anyhoo, back to my crafting experience. I found this awesome picture:

pinterest suncatcher

I thought, wow, so pretty! It must be complicated right? NOT SO!!!! VERY, VERY simple I promise. You buy the clear-ish plastic pony beads form the craft store, I just so happened to have some from my hair braiding days, or I’m sure you could use any clear plastic beads. You dump them into a round non-stick cake pan in a SINGLE layer, no greasing necessary (yes this made me nervous) and bake them in the oven on 400 for about 20 minutes. My oven took closer to 30 minutes, but it also depends on what kind of effect you want to have I suppose. The less time you cook them for the bumpier they are. I prefer them a little smoother so I kept checking them every 5 minutes after the 20 passed. As you can see, some melted differently. The clear ones still looked a little bumpy, but I was happy with it.

Baked and melty-looking

***NOTE, this does smell a little in the house so if you are bothered by melting plastic smells, I wouldn’t do this in your house. Maybe purchase a toaster oven that you could put outside?? I don’t know, but I know some people complain of the smell. It really didn’t bother me. I suppose if I was doing this as a full time job I would pick up an old oven and keep it in a shed or garage to bake in. But one time isn’t going to kill me.  AND ANOTHER NOTE **** Just because I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, I went yard sale-ing for pans and paid .25 each. I didn’t want to use my own in case they got ruined, but I also don’t want to melt plastics in them and then cook food in them if you know what I mean. I’m not one of those nutty people who freak out over all things plastic, it just seemed weird to me, so I’m keeping separate pans for craft stuff.

So once the baked beads cool, flip the pan over and the plastic”cake” falls right out! No more worries about not greasing the pans. Woo-hoo!! I am so excited about this silly little NEW thing! Why didn’t I think of this?

After baking the first plastic cake, I was hooked. I got so many ideas! Now the original instructions said that you can drill holes in the sun catchers wherever you want them. Again this made me nervous thinking the plastic would easily crack, so on the first sun catcher I put a heart shaped metal cookie cutter [you can see in the picture above] at the top thinking I would make my own hole. The cookie cutter DID NOT pop out so easily. It was actually pretty well-stuck in there. I had to perform serious wiggling tactics to remove it. Finally it came out, so not too bad but I won’t try that again.

I thought I would make some smaller plastic cakes to hang as little dangles from my big one. So I took these muffin pans I also yard saled for a quarter each and put some beads in them ready to bake. This time I used a rivet for my holes (you can see the rivet in the pre-baking picture below)  to see how this would come out, knowing I was going to leave them in as decoration. Now I didn’t realize that the cupcake pans were not completely non-stick coated like the cake pan was so I had to really pop the bottom of the cups to remove my cakes. I also noticed a “texture” on the bottom of the cakes from the pan and I could also see very tiny scratches. So note that any imperfections in the pans MAY be noticeable in your sun-catchers.

beads in muffin/ cupcake pans

So I now have one big sun-catcher, and 6 small ones. I imagined my sun-catcher with 3 long dangling strands each with 2 small ones on them. I realized that I have 6 circles with one hole each, and my big circle only had my top hole shaped like a heart. Oh boy. I HAD to break out my drill and proceeded to drill 3 holes in the bottom of the big sun catcher, and one hole in each of only 3 of the small ones.  The ones hanging on the bottom of the strands only needed the top holes with the rivets. It really wasn’t that bad. No major cracking when I did the drilling. Next time I will not be worried to drill the holes later, but that won’t stop me from thinking of other creative ways of making cool shapes for holes.

NEXT STEP—I creeped  into the shed —real sneaky-like—-and stole some of my hubby’s fishing line…..I couldn’t find any new packages, so I just took it right from the reel. HEHEHEEEEE, yes clever isn’t it? Fishing line is perfect for this project and if you have a hubby that likes to fish it’s probably something you have laying around the house—one less thing to buy, LOVE it!

tying fishing line in top and bottom holes

I tied all the pieces together exactly where I wanted them and VOILA!!! ***Tip- I dangled mine from the table so I could see exactly where I wanted to place them.

Hanging to see how they fall as I tied them

outside

The whole shebang

Trying to get pics in the sunlight…

A semi-sunny pic….at least of the top half

So my picture-taking skills aren’t so great, but you get the picture (no pun intended). I love this new creation and I have so many ideas that come with it! I could make different shapes, I could put different non-clear items within them before baking, I could even make wind chimes. I can separate colors  and make them one or a few certain colors each. I can make swirls or patterns with the beads before I bake them….It just goes to show how flexible some crafts are. No one says you HAVE to follow the directions to the “T.” I liked mine sun-catcher longer, I did that on purpose. You could make yours shorter, or put more small pieces on it. Have fun with it, make it your own. Send me pictures!!! I wanna see what you come up with!

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85 thoughts on “Bead-dazzle me a Sun-Catcher!

    • What a great idea! I didn’t think about it much because the fumes are really minor. I did notice but it wasn’t much. Not as much as a plastic plate falling below the rack in the dishwasher and melting on the heater during the drying stage—- that’s nasty! :)

    • I’m not sure if it would stick or not?? I’ve only tried this with a non stick metal pan. If you try it I wouldn’t suggest using a pan you care about….. Just in case. :)

    • I tried it in a glass pan and it stuck and won’t come out! Boo! Now I am trying to figure if I should toss it or used it somehow?!

      • Oh nooooooooo! :( I’m so sorry I would NOT have used a glass dish. Has it cooled already? Because as it cools the plastic shrinks and it may start to pull away from the edges…. ???? Other than that I don’t know then! Let me think….

      • I use glass all of the time. It has a beautiful shiny finish. I give it a few minutes to cool and then I sit it in a little bit of cold water. It pops right out! Try it again. You can always try a little pam or oil. Just a thin coat.

      • Thanks for the tip Renee! However I’m going to advise everyone to be very careful if you place glass in cold water after cooking—- please make sure the glass is cool enough before doing this. Glass that is cooled too quickly will crack and/or shatter!

  1. Hi, Heidi.

    I love this post! I am the editor of AllFreeKidsCrafts.com, and I think that this tutorial would do very well on the site. If you are interested in having this and other projects featured on the site, please contact me via the email provided.

    Best,

    Jaclyn

  2. Pingback: Crafts for Kids Blog » Tutorial: Pony Bead Sun Catcher

  3. I love this idea! I am going to try to make it for my nephew and his new wife with the initial of their last name in the big one and possibly their names hanging from that.

    • I made the big one with a W in it, but it was too difficult for me to make the letters in the small ones to hang down. Also, I found that the solid color beads don’t look as nice as the opaque beads. They are too solid of a color for the sun to shine through. It’s been fun making these though. Thanks for the idea.

  4. Hi, I ran across your site while my first suncatcher was baking. Wish I had seen it first because my pan had scratches and yes they do show if you look closely. I also went out and bought some pans at a thrift store the next day because you never know about that melted plastic! I wanted to try different shapes so I bought 2 corning ware type small pans. One is oval shaped the other is small and round. My first attempt was the bumpy look so I went for a smoother look the second time and I left the corning ware in too long and it got too hot so it has bubbles in them! The other three that baked at the same time were metal and they turned out fine. I also used 2 small loaf pans and one small round tin. I think I am addicted ;)

    • Lol!!! Glad to have an addict on my page any day. It is so much fun! I’ve been trying different things too— I think the possibilities are endless! I melted one on the upside down side of the pan to make a bowl—– but it cracked during the cooling stage because it was shrinking. :(

  5. Good Morning! I saw the same post on Pinterest and was amazed at how easy this was. I also, am a bit addicted to melting plastic now. I have made a bunch of wind chimes and a cake plate, that one required a pizza pan from the Dollar Store. Another suggestion/tip, try using your metal cookie cutter’s to obtain different shapes. I used an egg shape and was able to for a pretty decent looking flower. The craft store in my are do not carry a big assortment of colors but search on line you will be amazed at the colors available.

  6. The fumes released when melting plastic beads is TOXIC and this should be done outside in an old toaster oven that you are never going to use for food. Same for the pans/molds. If you do this in your oven, clean the inside of your oven thoroughly when you are finished. Just a few precautions so the project is fun AND safe. I love the windchimes idea- made a few little trinket bowls once.

  7. This is the BEST blog/tutorial/description of this project I’ve come across. I love the idea of adding a rivet (or a washer or bolt now that I think about it!) because I wouldn’t want to drill through that plastic either! I’m excited to try this with my boyfriend’s niece; she’s super creative and would probably be able to put some sort of intricate pattern in hers, haha!

  8. This was just tooooo much fun! Thank you so much for sharing it. We’re going to use the mini muffin tins to make Christmas ornaments and little gift bad decorations! : )

  9. My daughter and I started this project today. We started with the muffin pan and it was so easy!! They popped right out after they cooled.I liked the idea of making flowers or initials in the big round one. This project was really as easy as you described. THANKS for posting!

    • Hmmm! Something to think about! The cookie cutter DID finally come out, it just took a lot of wiggling. I was nervous to try that again….if you have any glass beads the glass will not melt. So you can make a shape with the glass beads too…… Just a thought! —-we found this out by accident—:)

  10. I used a spring-form pan and it worked great! Nice ‘diamond’ texture on one side from the bottom of the pan too. :)

    • Oh no!!! Well first…are they plastic??? my kids tried some glass seed beads once and they wouldn’t melt….also the METALLIC pony beads tend to act funky—-and I have had some weird metallic like beads NOT want to melt. SECOND— what is the oven on? THIRD how long have they been in?
      — FOURTH, are they melting at all? even slightly?

  11. They were somewhat metallic so I’m assuming that was the problem. I had the oven on 400 and they were in there for even around 40 minutes and they did nothing but really burn. Which beads should I be using?

    • Ah-ha! That’s probably it. :( I did have that happen during an experiment too. Something about the metal content in the metallic coating doesn’t like to melt.
      Plastic pony beads work best. They should be clear-ish—-at least transparent! They usually come in a big bag for between $5-7 at any craft store. I have purchased the ones with the glitter mixed into the beads and those worked okay. No worries though….you experimented. LOL That’s how we come up with fabulous new ideas!

    • I am not too sure! I would think the plastic would stick to it. You really need a non stick surface. I think the astir would get stuck in all the little grooves of the pan, so not only would it stick but you would not get a smooth finish if you were able to pop them out. These things show every detail of the pan!!! One if my pans had a “matte” finish and the melted plastic showed this. It was t a smooth shiny surface as I would have liked. It also showed every little scratch!

  12. The sun catchers turned out awesome – made with the grand kids 5 & 3 – but to make the holes I held a nail with pliers and heated over candle and put where hole is going and went thru like butter

  13. I think I will try to put parchment paper in the bottom of an old pan and see if that works! I also wonder if the silicone pans would work ? I feel a play date coming on ! (Just me , playing in the kitchen when no one else is home! Ha!) :-) Great pictures ! Thanks for posting!

  14. You might try putting a little cooking oil on the cookie cutter? Maybe that would help it not stick. This is a great idea, I just told my sister today that I want to find some things my 5 yrs old (with some assistance) could do for Christmas presents. She loves to give people things but the cost adds up, this she could give many gifts for cheap.

  15. I’ve made these a few times with old nonstick pans. I just sprayed them with a little cooking spray. The kids love these.

    • Oh no! I’ve never had this happen! Has it cooled completely? Usually as its cooling the plastic separates from the edges, you can hear it kinda crackling… Other than that I would try twisting it like an ice cube tray. (Or possibly last resort— remelting it? What’s the worst that could happen it gets stuck more?)

      What kind of beads did you use? I’m trying to think what could have happened? :((((

    • Cook it at the lowest temp possible! Or at least furthest away from the flame in the BBQ if you can. I know I have heard of people cooking them on the grill before— I would assume the bubbling is from the plastic becoming too hot too fast You have to heat it slowly. :) hope that helps!

  16. I found you via Pinterest! We have a school holiday tomorrow and are going to make these after lunch and then vacate the house for the afternoon. I bought foil pans at the Dollar Store, not thinking about the “pattern” so I may line with parchment. Thanks for all the ideas.

  17. DO NOT USE IKEA BEADS, Pyssla ( large container with a red lid in kids art supply area). When they melted and they were rubberized mess in the non-tick muffin pans. Ruined my non-stick bake ware. I also tried with parchment paper on cheap aluminum pan. They are still rubbery and thick, no matter what temp I used in the oven. HOT MESS on a snow day with the kids. totally bummed!!

  18. Pingback: Sun catchers | My Life My Blog

  19. This was awesome! I used cookie cutters for Valentine’s Day and sprayed them with pam… But the beads got greasy and you can kind of see the cloudiness around some of them. I won’t spray them next time. I also used an aluminum foil heart shaped cake pan and it worked great. Just have to be careful not to mark the pan bc it marks very easy being foil. This was a great activity with my 3 1/2 year old. Thanks for the idea! !

    • I haven’t tried that, and I don’t know if I would. Especially if you are going to be using it again for food? I’m leery about doing that— melting plastic in something and then putting food in it. But also— the silicone molds are not non stick and you have to spray them first. The spray would probably mix in with the plastic. So again— not my choice, but Let me know if you decide to experiment!

  20. I had everything to do this, so I finally have it in the oven baking (yes-pretty stinky-hubs told me to do it outside in the toaster over next time, I’m burning candles afterwards). I used a combo of solids and glow in the dark, I can’t wait to see if they still glow! How cool would that be! Let you know in a bit how this turns out!

  21. The grommets were a NEEDED item for this. I couldn’t imagine doing it without them. Also, on point about “if your pan is scratched your disks will be”. It isn’t a biggie for us, as this project is fun; but if someone wants to sell these for a small kids business or something, take the time to make sure your pan isn’t scratched.

    • :) thanks for trying this project and for your feedback! I love to hear it!
      I do notice down the road that the plastic starts to crack around the grommets— my guess is from the plastic trying to shrink around it as its cooling and over time just the hot and cold on the sun? Not 100% sure but it is something I noticed.
      My suncatchers from this post has long since fallen in a nasty windstorm and broken—:((( I saved the pieces and will be recycling them again for a new suncatcher? :) till next time—
      - Heidi.

  22. Pingback: My DIY Suncatchers… | cehalles

  23. i wonder if you could take cookie cutters on a baking sheet and put beads inside the cutter to make some cool shapes. maybe slightly grease them so that the melted beads pop out easier?

  24. I love it!!! I have a teenager boy here at home that never gets is nose out of a PC…yesterday he spent the whole day with me making them! and I have some ornaments that comes from a dear friend of mine….I was able to make a beautiful ornament with them! They are crystals dipped in pure gold from BC and now this is what I made with them…I got the broken up clear beads from the dollars store…placed a large round pan, and a smaller round pan in it….made a circle and melted the beads just enough so it looked just like crystals…drilled a hole in that circle and hung the ornament in the middle of those ornaments….just wow! I added mini beads of a gold color in the circle to match the ornament…so classy!

  25. Heidi, I just love your hummor! And soooo identify with your ADHD about crafting. Want to do it all. Do one project, then…next! A completely different project! Why can’t I continue to work with all the items I collected for the first project? Perfect it and get better? Nope, not. Anyhoo, thanks for sharing!!!!! :)

  26. I absolutely love this idea. I’m thinking red, white, and, blue beads for a 4th of July activity. Question though, what did you use on the very top of it to attach it to your house? Thanks!

    • Great idea! — to attach at the top I tied the fishing line to any kind of ring, metal, plastic or wood— a metal key ring would be fine! Then hang it on a nail, screw, or a cup hook— whatever floats your boat. :) or whatever you have around. I try to use whatever I have handy without having to run out and buy too much, use up the stuff in the junk drawer. ;)

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