melted pony bead suncatchers

How to Make Melted Bead Art

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Make easy and beautiful melted bead art and free-form suncatchers and mobiles using translucent pony beads, thread or wire, a metal pan, and a grill.

How to Make Melted Bead Art with Plastic Pony Beads

We’ve been in the midst of a whole round of melted pony bead suncatcher experimentation!

We first started with using round cake pans and muffin tins to make basic melted bead suncatchers, but now we’re into more freeform melted bead art and experiments. 

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We’re absolutely loving the freedom of form that string and wire are allowing. And we’ve even tried adding glass stones among the plastic pony beads, just for fun. Read on to discover how easy and beautiful creating melted bead art can be!

How to Make Free Form Melted Bead Art

MATERIALS

  • Translucent or glitter pony beads This post contains affiliate links.
  • Embroidery thread or wire
  • Metal bakeware: pans, cake tins, muffin tins, metal cookie cutters, or even gelatin molds
  • Aluminum foil to line bakeware (for easy clean-up and no risk of plastic residue)
  • Grill or oven
  • String or ribbon for hanging

INSTRUCTIONS

Stringing beads for melted bead art

Step 1. String beads onto thread or wire

For most of our melted pony bead suncatchers we’ve used embroidery thread. I suggest tying off the last pony bead just so they don’t slip off in the next step. We also tried wire for one but because it was fairly rigid and did not lay flat in the pan, the melting beads started to drip off of the wire. A more malleable wire such as floral wire might work better.

pony beads strung on wire for use in a melted bead art or mobile

Step 2. Create your melted bead art

Prepare your metal pan or bakeware with a layer of aluminum foil (despite the fact that there isn’t any in these photos!). Arrange your beaded wire or thread into your desired artwork, design, or shape on the pan.

Note: These photos were taken before I discovered how helpful using foil was. You should especially be sure to use foil if you are using the same pans you bake with.

a spiral of pony beads arranged on metal pan for making melted bead art

Our first creation was a tight spiral but we quickly figured out we could be more abstract and experimental with our shapes.

strung pony beads in metal pan ready to be melted into free form artwork

We dropped the string of pony beads loosely in the pan, allowing it to overlap itself at points.

melted pony bead suncatcher with glass stones embedded

Optional Idea: Add in glass stones or glass beads. Make sure the glass stones are surrounded by the plastic pony beads. You want the melted beads to surround them and hold them in place.

freeform melted bead art in metal pan

Step 3. Melt the Plastic Bead Art

Melt the pony bead designs for 5 or so minutes on an outdoor grill (best because the fumes from melting plastic beads is toxic) or, if necessary, in an oven (with your kitchen windows wide open).

Wondering what temperature to melt beads?

We had the best success with using our grill set on “high” (400-450º Fahrenheit).  Place the pan in the center and put the top down. When we tried doing multiple pans at once we found that the ones on the edges did not heat up as well and we had to rotate them for even melting. Heat for 5 minutes and then check the progress every few minutes after that. Melting the pony beads completely should take no more than 10 minutes.

melted bead art peels easily off pan when cool

Step 4. Let cool then remove from pan

Once the melted bead art has cooled completely (this only takes a few minutes) it will peel easily out of the pan.

Free form melted bead art to hang in the window

Step 5. Hang your melted bead art

If needed drill a small hole through the top. String with ribbon and hang your new suncatcher art indoors in a window or outside on your porch or deck.

3 More Melted Bead Art Ideas

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Make easy and beautiful melted bead art and free-form suncatchers and mobiles using translucent pony beads, thread or wire, a metal pan, and a grill. #suncatchers #crafts #craftsforkids #artsandcrafts #bead

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah m
    August 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Very cool! I’ve never seen this type of project before.
    Sarah m

  • Reply
    Nina
    August 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this idea today. We just made a bunch of them with great results. We made one where we used a skewer to draw into the melted beads.

  • Reply
    Jeanette Nyberg
    August 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    This is seriously the coolest project ever. It’s so pretty!

  • Reply
    katie
    August 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

    We used “valentine” colors and put them in heart cookie cutters then in oven as vday gifts

  • Reply
    katie
    August 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

    * if you left the remainder of thread instead of snipping, could you not hang it from that?

  • Reply
    nancy
    August 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    These are beautiful. I live in an apt. building. Do you think I could melt these indoors or does it give off any kind of toxic smell or smoke?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Oh, cool! How did that one turn out?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Thanks, Jeanette!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Yep!!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 12, 2013 at 11:43 am

    You could do it indoors (and we did the first time), but yes, the fumes from the melting plastic are not good to breathe. If you do it, ventilate well! Maybe you could convince a friend (who has a porch with toaster oven or yard with grill etc) to do the project with you?

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Sounds lovely, Katie!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    August 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Thanks, Sarah!

  • Reply
    Lesley
    August 15, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Hi
    I’d like to know is there a special type of bead that is used? I am having trouble finding this kind of bead.

  • Reply
    MaryAnn F. Kohl, art book author and educator
    August 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    You know how much I love your blog, your ideas, YOU!!! May I share?
    http://eepurl.com/DRXHf
    Free Leafy Art ideas for September! Leafy Art, From MaryAnn
    Kohl

  • Reply
    K hanau
    September 27, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I wonder if you could use fishing line, clear thread, that clear plastic lacing material or even floss?

  • Reply
    grace
    December 10, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    what type of thread was used to bead these? I would like to use them in my class as well b/c I lOVE this project!!

  • Reply
    sandy blue
    May 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    For the beaded suncatchers,, I would use use one of those clear stretchy cords so you wouldn’t see the string in the melted beads. Otherwise the colours were very pretty

  • Reply
    Sarah
    May 20, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I just found this and I’m about to go find pony beads to make myself wedding decorations. Have you tried using fishing line to see if maybe you wouldn’t get the line where you can see the string?

  • Reply
    Loretta
    June 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Was looking for fun ideas for kids and came upon your lovely website!! Thanks so much for the beautiful crafts you offer with plastic beads. Who would have thought it would be so easy..?? (and beautiful, too!) Will try when my special girl comes this weekend. She will love this.

  • Reply
    Nicole Doran
    December 9, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    was wondering about the beads can they just be the normal pony beads or do you have to find a certain type? because all i can find is the narmal ones and not the melting type.

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