About Melted Bead Art

    CRAFTS CLASSES
    TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY
    by Katherine Kally

    About the Author

    Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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    Melted bead art is an inexpensive art form that uses plastic beads and metal forms from around the house like pie tins and cookie cutters. You can make a variety of projects, such as sun catchers and mobiles limited only by your imagination and the size of your oven. Recycle beads caught at Mardi Gras or left over from other projects, or purchase new plastic beads at the craft store in colors to match your chosen design.

    Molds and Beads

    Any type of plastic bead, clear or opaque is suitable for melted bead art. Round beads will melt into different shapes depending on the space around them. A mold can be any object that will withstand the heat without melting or losing its shape. For small projects, try disposable tart tins, muffin pans or tuna cans. Line the bottom of cookie cutters with tin foil to create a temporary mold. For larger projects use cake or pie pans.

    Melting

    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the beads in the mold and then place them in the oven. Check the beads after ten minutes, then every five minutes until they are melted. Most beads take around 20 minutes to melt. Open windows and turn on a fan while your beads are melting to let the fumes escape. You can also melt the beads on an outdoor grill or in a toaster oven.

    Shaping

    Flip the mold upside down and shake slightly to release the melted beads. Lay flat to cool, or shape the beads with a rolling pin, metal can or butter knife. Wear protective gloves while shaping since the beads will be very hot. You will only have a short time after removing them from the oven to shape the beads since they will harden quickly as they cool.

    Finishing

    Punch holes for hanging your art using knitting needles or wire while the beads are hot, or use a drill after they are cool. Thread kite string, fishing line or ribbon through the hole and tie in a loop to hang the project as a sun catcher or mobile. For other projects, sand any rough edges with an emery board or piece of fine sandpaper.

    Project Ideas

    Use melted plastic beads to make your own coasters, bowls, vases, sun catchers, wall hangings or masks. Craft small pieces into jewelry by drilling a hole at the top and adding a jump ring or bail. Add melted bead forms to wind chimes or mobiles to catch the sun. Use glow-in-the-dark beads to create objects that show up at night.