Friday, April 25, 2014

The Camping Crafts Corner #1: Melted Bead Wind Chimes

Welcome to The Camping Crafts Corner!

When I was a little girl, Mom had a crafts corner in the kitchen of our home.  I was free to play, imagine, dream, create and make a mess to my heart's content so long as it was all cleared up by dinner!  I fully believe that the ingenuity and imagination I have today are grown from the seeds of craftiness that she planted in me so many years ago.  I dedicate this little corner of my blog to her as a thank you for her willingness to let us have a lot of fun (and make a little mess) all in the name of creativity.

Mom and Me in Denver, about to go on a Hot Air Balloon ride!

So, for our first Craft Corner, we turn to an idea I found out on Pinterest (oh, Pinterest, how I love thee!)  A Mom-blogger had taken plastic pony beads and melted them in the oven to create disks for a wind chime.  It was surprisingly easy, and surprisingly inexpensive (under $10 for the entire craft). 

You'll need the following supplies:

Multi-colored Pony Beads (Micheal's - $6 for 1 lb - used a half off coupon)
Foil Cupcake Pans (Dollar Store - $1 for 3)
Fishing Line (already had)
Drill and Small Drill Bit (already had)
(Grill, tongs, patience, a few lids/Frisbees to lay the beads out on, and a stick)

Preheat your grill to medium-high.  Give each camper a foil cupcake tray to call their own and pour out all the beads into your flat lids or Frisbees (we just used what we had on hand).  Let them go to town filling each spot with one layer of beads.

For some of our munchkins, "one layer" was a difficult concept, for others, it was simple.  We had age ranges from 4 to 8, and trays that had all 6 spots full, to just 2.  And for some, just playing in the beads was fun enough - no need to turn on the heat!

Once your kiddos have finished with their designs, carefully place the foil trays onto the grill - try to put them over direct heat (our grill has two burners, so I could fit two trays in at a time) but keep your eye on them.  If you over heat the plastic, it causes a lot of bubbles to appear. WARNING: the melting plastic is going to put off fumes - have the kiddos go play elsewhere and do your best to not stand directly near the grill while these are melting.  Watch the trays carefully - it doesn't take long for the beads to melt (maybe 5 minutes) but your grill setting may be a bit different, so keep your eyes on them.

Pull the melted bead trays out of the grill using tongs - they will be HOT.  I left them to cool a bit on the side platforms of our grill before putting them in the cooler to really bring the temp down.  Chilling them also makes them very easy to remove and gives you the opportunity for a cool science conversation around expansion and contraction. Not that we want to make this educational or anything.

Once they're chilled, pop them out of the trays and run the edges against something hard like the table (this will break off some of the sharp points caused by the folds and crinkles of the tray).  Use a drill and small bit to drill a hole in each disk and have the kids search for a stick to hang them on using the fishing line.

Minimal cost, minimal effort, and lots of fun!  And, if you're lucky enough to have "Martha Jo" come camping with you and bringing along her Camping Crafts Corner, you just might get a solid half hour to do, well, this:

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