I set up a quick version of a DIY light table about a month ago (after years of saying I would make one) and it has been absolutely wonderful during these past few weeks of snow days and illness. The kids have gravitated toward it again and again.
The light table is simply a large clear plastic storage bin with a string of white Christmas lights inside. It’s the easiest and cheapest light table possible, yet the kids would call it Fun with a capital “F” and I would call it a sanity saver.
Most recently Maia and Daphne made heart suncatchers with some of our translucent mosaic tiles. They are really quite gorgeous!
What began as a mosaic design and symmetry activity on the light table became lovely heart suncatchers when we sandwiched the lightweight tiles between sheets of contact paper.
Here are some photos of the process from light table to suncatcher:
Maia and Daphne had used the mosaic tiles on the light table before, but had gotten frustrated when a small bump would move the tiles out of their carefully laid designs.
So this time I taped some transparent contact paper face up on the light table, thinking they could create their designs as before but that the sticky plastic would hold the tiles where they wanted them. I knew it would still be easy to pick the tiles back up and move them around as their ideas and design changed form.
But, on a whim, I drew heart outlines on the contact paper rather than leaving it plain as I had initially planned.
They woke up recently to to this invitation on the light table—the contact paper with heart outlines and an assortment of the translucent mosaic tiles—and dove right in.
As you can see, our “light table” is one of those under the bed storage bins with wheels. I picked it up at Target for $14.99. The string of white lights was purchased on clearance after Christmas and works well to light the table. The cord is thin enough that I can close the lid over it securely as it snakes out the top to plug into a nearby outlet.
Maia made symmetrical designs on her heart with the colorful tiles. Daphne mostly picked out her favorite colors to fill her heart.
When I saw how pretty they were on the light table, I asked the girls if they wanted to try them in the window as suncatchers. Maia declined, wanting to pull her tiles off and make more designs instead, but Daphne was enthusiastic about the idea.
I helped her add another layer of the contact paper over the top to sandwich the mosaic tiles in between two sheets of the sticky plastic. Then we admired the heart in the window with the light shining through it.
She was totally fine with it as it was, but I thought it might be nice if we cut off the extra contact paper from around the heart and she was game.
I drew a larger heart around the first, creating about an inch-wide margin of the contact paper (to hold the tiles securely in place), then let her go at it with scissors.
We added a border with purple washi tape, Daphne cutting the pieces, and I helping to wrap them around the heart’s tricky curves.
Then Daphne punched a hole at the top of the heart with a paper punch, we looped a pink ribbon through, and Daphne hung up her new suncatcher.
It worked so well!
The colorful mosaic tiles really glow in the light!
Once Valentine’s Day has passed, we’ll likely dismantle this suncatcher and return the tiles to the light table. But for now, we’re loving how it looks in the window!
A note about the tiles:
I bought our mosaic tiles from Discount School Supply. When I started writing this post about the suncatchers, I thought I’d be able to say that you can get these sorts of translucent plastic tiles anywhere—even the dollar store. But I haven’t seen them in the stores and haven’t been able to find any in my online searches. Does anyone know where you can get something like this? I recommend the DSS tiles without reservation, but was hoping to give you another option in case you didn’t want to order online. (I know you can get glass tiles and gems at craft stores and they are great for the light table, but would likely be too heavy and bulky for a contact paper suncatcher.)
Do you have a light table?
Either a real one or a DIY version? If so, I’d love to hear your favorite materials or activities for it! We’ve tried a few things so far—maybe I’ll share in a post tomorrow—but we’re still new to this and looking for ideas.
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