Melted Bead Suncatchers
Totes has a new best friend and her mom loves to craft... It was a play-date match made in heaven!
While browsing Pinterest for some fun and crafty activities we could do during this upcoming play-date for our four year olds, I came across Melted Bead Suncatchers. After a quick browse through a few posts to get the general idea of the project, I jumped over to Amazon to buy some transparent Pony Beads since the only ones I had stashed in my craft cupboard were solid colors. I had the rest of the supplies needed as this project doesn't take much to complete but the end results are really great!
Apple is now two years old and could fully participate in this activity as well. She's been past the phase of putting everything she finds in her mouth for awhile now but I was still sure to supervise her the most during our craft time. She also obviously needed the most help with constructing the beads while Totes and his friends were able to go about their crafts on their own after a brief tutorial from the parents. But of course I should mention that this activity involves small pieces that can be a choking hazard so small children should be supervised at all times.
Here's what you'll need to create these with your little ones!
- Transparent Pony Beads
I bought this large, 1lb. pack and it was way more than I could have used but there are so many fun projects you can continue to make in the future with these so at less than ten bucks, I think this was the best thing to buy. I also bought this pack of all clear beads because I wanted to be sure I had plenty of completely transparent beads to mix in with the colors for the final look I was going for.
Although you can easily do this project without, I liked being able to use the tweezers to move the beads around and arrange them more precisely in the tins as my hands and fingers are a bit too big to work with these tiny beads and spaces. Totes loved working with them too, it was great fine motor skills practice!
- Metal Muffin Tins (standard size)
You can use what you already have as they won't get ruined in this process. Once the plastic beads have melted, they pop right out of the pan.
- Outdoor gas grill
I highly recommend that you do the heating outdoors. The plastic smell these emit was pretty bad to me, I would have never done this inside my house in my oven.
- Power Drill
Using the smallest drill bit you have available, you'll need to drill a hole or two in the suncatchers to be able to hang them. If you don't plan on hanging them, disregard this and the next item!
- Fishing Line or any type of string
I stopped by our local hardware store and grabbed a reel of fishing line for two bucks to be able to hang our suncatchers as I though the fishing line looked the best with the transparency of the melted beads.
Simple Assembly Steps
- Set up an assembly station at your kitchen table (or floor) with a bowl of the beads and your muffin tins.
Explain to the kids you want to fill the muffin tin with one layer of beads in any pattern/color of their liking. Just make sure all the beads are stacked side by side for one even level. It doesn't matter if they are turned on their side or placed like a silo but we did notice that the beads that were all placed like a silo melted into these really cool, hexagonal patterns. Play around with the before and afters and see for yourself how the beads melt depending on how you place them! Makes for a great cause and effect experiment for kids.
- Transfer your muffin tin to the grill.
I suggest using a lower heat setting as these beads can burn very quickly when they reach their melting temperature. Ten minutes was about all it took to get them there; watch yours closely. My muffin tin was actually too big for the little portable gas grill we keep at home so I had the kids only fill half of the cups and as you can see in the pictures, I just inserted half of the pan into the grill and closed the lid as much as I could. My set up worked just fine. The smell is pretty awful so make sure the area you are working in is fully ventilated.
- Let the pan fully cool before handling
Once it has cooled completely, turn the tin over and tap the pan to pop them out. Show the kids their beautiful creations! Hold them up to the sun or light to see how they reflect the colors and patterns on all around.
- Drill holes and string
(optional) Using the smallest drill bit we had available, I quickly drilled a hole into the top of each suncatcher so I could string the fishing line through the to hang in and around our playhouse and in bedroom windows.
I used a larger cake pan to create a super large suncatcher. Worth noting that it took me quite a long time to do this (almost an hour, maybe more)! I wouldn't recommend for kids, they'll lose interest before they can complete it. The muffin tins were the perfect size for mine.
We love how they turned out and will definitely be doing more in the future! Playing around with cookie cutters and different shapes, sizes. This also made for a very fun crafting playdate that multiple kids could do at once. While one parent supervised the kids, I went off to work the grill away from everyone. The kids were super excited about their little creations in the end.
We even spent another afternoon not too many days later making another batch to send to grandma for Mother's Day.
I want to give credit to THIS blog post for my original inspiration. There were several posts on a variety of suncatchers projects on their website so take a look around while you're there!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. Thank you for supporting our blog!