Thursday, February 9, 2012

Craft Project: Pony Bead Sun Catchers

I came across an idea for making sun catchers out of pony beads, cookie cutters, and glue on the Play at Home Mom Blog. I LOVED this idea and thought my girls would as well. My husband was out of town for work all last week and I knew I needed to have a plan for the weekend. I thought this would be the perfect project. It is easy, and hopefully a little time consuming. Ha! I wanted to keep them occupied a bit. :-) Here are a couple of my daughters' finished products:
Using Elmer's Clear Glue

Using Elmer's white School Glue


I was originally planning on the girls making Valentine sun catchers because I already had a few plastic heart cookie cutters. But I was worried that they would get really into this and I would run out of cookie cutters. Not wanting to squash their enthusiasm, I decided to look for cheap plastic cookie cutters. I looked at Dollar Tree, Target, and Michael's. But didn't find any that fell into the categories of cheap AND fun. I had to run into Hancock Fabrics for a some elastic and just decided to check their cake decorating aisle. They had large buckets of cutters for $8.99. They had an animal bucket, an alphabet bucket, and maybe a sports bucket too. I decided to go for the animal bucket. There were FIFTY cookie cutters. The best part is when I checked out, it was on sale! I got 50 plastic cookie cutters for a little over $5! Score!
Essentially, all you do is place pony beads in a plastic cookie cutter and add glue. Let them dry three days and volia! Not-so-instant sun catchers. However, I've noticed that this project has been tried a few times on different blogs (or through comments on the Play at Home Mom Facebook page). And some people didn't always have good results. I felt like I needed to experiment a bit before I had the girls do this. I really wanted it to work out for them. So my 2 year old and I made these the day before:
I made the top one and my son did the smaller one on the bottom. I didn't fill all the space in my cutter because I thought the glue would just dry and be there. But I realized as it started to dry that this was a mistake.
Here they are after Day Two of drying. I pulled them off the wax paper because I thought flipping them over would help dry them out better. But when I did that, the glue in the middle of mine came off. But my son's was turning out great and he had filled his whole cutter with beads. So I learned that I had to tell the girls they should fill their whole cutter. They were very excited to get started when they saw these on the counter. 
 
My girls are 6 and 8 years old so they were pretty methodical with filling in their cookie cutters. They did it a bit like it was a Pixos project or they were using perler beads. My son just dumped them in as I would expect a 2 year old would do. :-) I really love that this project can be done with just about any age group! It is tough finding things that entertain all three of my kids. Then it was time to glue:

 
Here is how they looked after Day Two:

Day Three, I removed them from the cookie cutters. There were still a few spots that needed to finish drying. Once dry, I used some very thin flower wire I had from a previous project and I bought suction cup hooks at Dollar Tree (you get 9 hooks for $1).
Hanging in the window below (sidenote: I try to teach my kids that art is not perfect and so I hung my heart up even though the glue dried funky and deep down I didn't want to hang it) ;-):
I realize this post is getting to be really long, but I really wanted this to be more step-by-step. Below I've listed out some things we found helpful with this project. I'm so glad this worked out and the girls are excited to do this for different seasons and holidays!

(MARCH 17, 2013--EDITED TO ADD---PLAY AT HOME MOM WHERE I ORIGINALLY GOT THIS IDEA HAS EXPERIMENTED AND PLAYED AROUND WITH THIS IDEA MORE. SHE HAS 'PERFECTED' THE PROJECT. USE HOT GLUE AROUND THE BOTTOM OF YOUR COOKIE CUTTER TO KEEP THE GLUE FROM LEAKING. SHE ALSO SUGGESTED JUST MAKING AN OUTLINE OF HOT GLUE (WITHOUT A COOKIE CUTTER) TO HOLD THE GLUE. AND USING PLEXIGLASS OR GLASS UNDER THE PROJECT INSTEAD OF WAX PAPER. LOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF HER POST HERE.)

Tips:
1. Elmer's School Glue works better than Elmer's Clear Glue in terms of less leakage under the cookie cutters. You will get a more opaque finish to your sun catcher. But if you use translucent pony beads, they will still look neat when the light shines through in the window. The clear glue is also a little more difficult to see when you're putting it in the cookie cutter.

2. Elmer's School Glue is better for younger kids (I would say under age 4) because younger kids are more likely to squeeze to their heart's content and the white glue will hold up better than clear glue. However, clear glue definitely looks fabulous in the window so if the parent wants to control the amount of glue or you have an older kid who understands not putting a ton of glue in the cookie cutter, than by all means use clear glue. We found all the way around that it's best to just cover the beads as minimally as possible with the glue. Less is definitely more with this project. You just want to make sure everything is thinly covered.

3. I tried using a hair dryer alternating shots of warm and cool air  (I have a cool air button feature on my hair dryer) to blow air around the outside of the cookie cutter to "seal" the glue more quickly. This seemed to help with seepage from under the cookie cutter a little bit.

4. If the cookie cutter is warped, place a heavy book on it for only one day. The glue in the middle will not start to dry out with the book on top because no air will get to it. However, the edge of the cookie cutter is exposed to air so any glue leaking out will solidify in a day. Then you can remove the book and let the inside get air. You just might have to add an extra day to your drying time.

5. My girls asked me to tape their cookie cutter down while they were putting the beads in because they were frustrated that it kept moving around. I taped the cookie cutter on two sides to the wax paper and then taped one side of the wax paper to the edge of the light table. This seemed to solve this problem for them.

6. Make sure to use plastic cookie cutters for the project. Metal cutters will rust during the three day drying time. And I think for whatever reason the glue doesn't seep out of the plastic cutters as much as metal ones from what I've seen in other people's blog posts about this project.

7. Be aware that the clear glue will come through the wax paper underneath a tiny bit and they will all feel "moist" on the bottom from the glue. So just make sure they are on a surface where that is ok. I just left them on my kitchen counter. I'm not sure I would put newspaper under them. Maybe this would transfer a bit? I'm not sure.

I'm not usually this thorough, I hope our experimenting helped! I've also come across several other sun catcher projects that I've pinned and we will be trying out in the near future.

19 comments:

  1. Thank you!! Loved the detailed step by step! I will be making these with my 3 and 6 year old girls. :)

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  2. This is very cute!! We have our first link party going on at our blog- will you link this up? You could be featured next week! New follower

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  3. Liz--Have fun with it! If you have a blog, please come back and post your link. I'd love to see your result!
    Natural-Nester--Thanks for commenting and following me! I just linked up!

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  4. These are beautiful! WE did some with different kinds of beads too and sequins here:

    http://www.thechocolatemuffintree.com/2011/04/glue-and-bead-sun-catchers.html

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  5. Melissa--thank for stopping by! I actually pinned several projects from your blog the other day. Love all your ideas! :-)

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  6. Thanks for coming over to link up! These are so cute and I can't wait to try them with my daycare kids! :)

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  7. This is really cute, and looks fun. I plan on making it with my boys soon! I am also linking tomorrow on Dollar Store Mom, and I added you to our blogroll because of your high-quality projects (and also... dollar store stuff!). Thanks!

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  8. Wow! Heather thank you so much! I really appreciate you linking to me. I look forward to checking it out! I love finding stuff to use for art project in dollar stores and dollar areas!

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  9. Just an update - we made it today. Now we're waiting for it to dry!

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  10. Great project! Did you have to lubricate, or grease the cookie cutters so the glue wouldn't stick to them?

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  11. Alice....sorry to not respond sooner...I didn't see this until now. I didn't do anything to the plastic cookie cutters. They just sort of pop out when they are dry. You just have to be careful with them. Don't force it. Just wiggle them a bit and they should come out pretty easily. :-)

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  12. I just bought plastic cookie cutters and the glue is seeping out like crazy :-(

    I love this detailed blog. I am hoping they will still work.

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  13. Melanie--Try putting a heavy book on top of the cutters. This may help. You could also try blowing air from a hair dryer around the outside to dry the glue faster. Once dry, you can trim off excess dried glue with scissors to make the shape more precise. :-) Good Luck!!

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  14. This is so cute. You're so creative. A very nice design little ones. Thank you for sharing your ideas.
    Keep up.
    Inkjet Paper

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  15. I was wondering were you got that really cool light that is under their suncatcher projects? I had something like that when I was a child and have been looking like that for a long time!
    They look great-thanks for taking the time and sharing all the details. :)

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    1. Hi Lois,

      Thanks for your comment! The light is a light table. You can get them at a few different places. This one came from Lakeshore Learning: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp;jsessionid=Q6CDgyv51t891PqFJrF3v2zGzf0fN2kd66vCVGB7YxV81DYWH3zZ!1309416770!-1037883897?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C923%2C177&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1354367523489

      My father-in-law made a beautiful frame with plexiglass top to go over ours to protect it better. The frame can be seen here: http://hollysartcorner.blogspot.com/2012/03/sensory-light-table-cover.html

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  17. Hi, My beads stuck to the wax paper. What did I do wrong? Thanks, :)

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    1. I usually remove the wax paper after they have dried for a day. If the top seems reasonably dry and solid, then flip the cookie cutter over and let air get to the bottom. After day two, I pop the whole thing out of the cookie cutter. I might need one more day to dry or it might be good to go at that point. Just depends on how much glue was used.

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