An easy tutorial for making plastic bead suncatchers with a rainbow of translucent plastic pony beads. Includes instructions, tips, and a video.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you might remember when we went through an obsession with melted bead suncatchers, making everything from basic suncatchers to melted bead art, garlands to DIY fairy wands. We tried all kinds of different configurations and ideas for melted pony beads and I’ll link up to some of the best at the end of this post.
Well, guess what?!
We’ve been obsessing about making suncatchers with those little plastic beads again.
Daphne made some suncatchers for end-of-year teacher gifts, Maia made a garland for a friend’s birthday, and both girls made suncatcher gifts for Father’s Day this year. Then a couple of our little friends came over for an art and craft playdate, saw all the plastic bead suncatchers, and wanted to make their own, so, of course they did too.
And Maia made a special rainbow suncatcher. It’s that last one that I’m going to post about here.
I shot a quick video of the suncatcher in progress…
And I’ll share the steps and photos below.
How to Make Rainbow Plastic Bead Suncatchers
- Translucent pony beads in a rainbow of colors
- Small, round metal baking dish*
- Grill or oven
- Drill (optional)
*We used a foil-lined mini cake pan this time, but you can also use regular cake pans or muffin tins. I suggest lining it with foil first if you’re going to use the baking dish for food afterward. Or pick up some metal baking dishes as a thrift store or yard sale and dedicate them to crafting.
Step 1: Arrange plastic beads in metal dish
First, arrange your plastic pony beads in the small metal baking dish. You can use a concentric rainbow design as Maia did here or any design that you like.
Remember you want to use translucent pony beads. They need to be somewhat transparent so they will act like a suncatcher and let the light shine through them.
Step 2. Melt Beads on Grill
Melting beads for suncatchers is quick and easy, but it’s best done outside on a gas grill. The fumes of the melting plastic beads are toxic and not good to breathe. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, I know people who take their toaster oven outside to bake them. If you must melt your beads in the oven indoors, please open your windows and air out the room/house well.
To melt the beads, set the metal baking dish (cake pan, muffin tin, etc) on the hot grill and close the top. Cook for 8-10 minutes at 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start checking the melting beads after about 8 minutes. You want the beads to be fully melted (not bumpy or pebbly as in the photo of partially melted plastic beads above) but you also don’t want the plastic beads to heat for too long and burn.
By the way, I think it goes without saying that this whole grill part is a step for the adults in the household to handle, right?
Step 3. Let cool
Carefully remove the pan with the melted and fused plastic beads from the grill and set it on a cooling rack or hot pad to cool. Once the suncatcher is completely cool, remove it from the baking dish (it should pop right out).
Step 4. Let the sun shine through!
Hold your new plastic bead suncatcher up to the light and admire!
Step 5. Drill a hanging hole (optional)
Finally, you can use an electric hand drill to drill a small hole at the top of your suncatcher to add a hanging loop. Maia, 12, is drilling the holes herself here, but you’ll likely want to do it for younger kids.
This last step is optional. You could also use a hot glue gun to glue a hanging ribbon to the top or something.
How about you? Have you tried making plastic bead suncatchers yet? They are such a fun summer craft, plus they make great gifts! I recommend you give them a try.
11 More Ideas for Plastic Bead Suncatchers
- How to Make Melted Bead Suncatchers (the basic tutorial)
- A Melted Bead Suncatcher Mobile (and how to make shapes)
- Melted Beads Suncatchers in Embroidery Hoop Frames (we’ve made many gifts this way!)
- DIY Fairy Wands Made with Melted Beads
- 7 More Ways to Make Homemade Suncatchers with Plastic Beads
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