Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Recycling Pony Beads for Your Altered Books, ATCs, or Cards


How many of us got sucked into buying pony beads way back when they were popular.  I'm thinking the 90s, but the craze may have started even earlier.  You don't have to raise your hand, because I bet you got at least ONE bag of them at one time or another, especially if you had kids begging for them.

I got sucked in when they were on clearance one year at Hobby Lobby, a big box craft store in the US.   I thought they would look cute attached to fibers I hang between pages in my altered books.  Unfortunately, they ended up looking like cheap beads.  So, I put them away and put out feelers.  I got a couple of people who told me I could paint them, but I wasn't about to do that.  Someone else told me I could use them as armatures for polymer clay.  But that didn't seem to interest me, at least not at the time, and I let them sit until now.  Of course, I also have a full container of those tiny beads I got at a rummage sale one year.

I remembered someone else told me I could melt them, but I didn't remember much else.  So, with the help of the internet, a few days ago I found a few places that confirmed it.  However, no one site agreed to the temperature or amount of time needed to cook them.

One site had 8 minutes at 450 F (230 C, Gas Mark 8).  Another had 10-12 minutes at 400 F (200 C, Gas Mark 6).  I cooked these for 15 minutes at 400 F in my dedicated bake oven I keep in my basement studio.  I kept watching them, hoping they would melt properly.  I finally got discouraged and removed them.

Some turned out lousy and needed to be recooked,

while some were really lovely.

Even after I recooked the ones that were not "done" before, I still threw a bunch away.

I definitely decided to give up on the small beads and went for the pony beads.  Easier to place on the tray,

they also cooked faster and easier.  These were in the bake oven for 9 minutes at 400 F.

Next, I cooked a few yellow beads, then

blue beads.  I've seen people use something similar in their scrapbook pages and on cards, although I can't remember what they call them.  It was a great way to find an alternative to the cheap looking pony bead, and now I'll use them in all sorts of my AB or journal projects.  I might even use them as centers for flowers, or attach them to paper clips.

Today is Day 8 of 22, and I recycled some ugly plastic beads into embellishments for my altered art.  I also saved the parchment I "cooked" the beads on, because I think the parchment will look great dipped in beeswax or baby oil.  Nothing gets wasted in my studio.



14 thoughtful remarks:

Fran Hopkins said...

Those larger dots do look like Candi, something I always wanted to try but have never got round to, but I think the smaller ones still look really interesting with their individual shapes. I'm sure they could be very useful for mixed media work.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Love how they look like candy dots they sold when I was a kid!

Question though, are they Perler beads, the kind you can iron into shapes on those little grids with prongs? My pony bead stash are hard plastic and I'm sure would not melt like this.

massofhair said...

Maybe i'm one of the few who has slipped through the Pony bead net as i don't own anything like this Elizabeth but i do love how you have melted them to use as embellishments on your projects.

Card Candi look like this: http://www.craftworkcards.co.uk/products/by-category/1/1/candi.html and the link is to the site who produces these embellies :-) xxx

froebelsternchen Susi said...

Your ideas always! GREAT ! Looks super ... I am sure this is super to use as embellishments!

Nan G said...

Hi E! Guess I'm one who doesn't have those kinds of beads. I like the way the little ones turned out. That bit of a hole left is neat. They would still be great in altered art. Don't throw em out! And the bigger beads that melted into the nice dew drops are really cool. You are clever, E. Btw, I've got a post up today showing the finished mini album. took me three hours to get the pics posted. Even hauled out the laptop! I'm leaving comments on yours and Glenda's blog and that's it. Have to rest the hands. The Girls are miffed they can't go out, too smoky from a brush fire, but they do send hugs and kisses, especially T, for Bleubeard and Squiggles. Enjoy your day Elizabeth. Hugs Nan n the Girls

Jo Murray said...

GREAT idea. I have a small electric kiln from my pottery day, Must give it a go...:)

Rita said...

Wow! The big beads turned out really cool!! :)

~*~Patty S said...

Fun idea!
Reminds me of the old fashioned candy dots they sold on strips of paper.
oxo

johanna said...

the Colors alone are a feast for the eyes! i love how These turned out and i also wouldn´t throw away the ones with a Little hole left. and i think i have already heard a word for them in the scrapbooking world: enamel dots. and i´m sure they are expensive to buy them as such.

Halle said...

Interesting. I've seen suncatchers made with the translucent ones. They were "cooked" in a shape such as a circle with a hole for the hanger.
http://artfulparent.com/2012/06/making-melted-bead-suncatchers.html
http://www.instructables.com/id/Melted-Bead-Sun-catcher/

Dianne said...

I've often wondered if this would work...you've confirmed that there is some trial and error involved. but they will be very cool in your books & on atc's! good use for pony beads...

pearshapedcrafting said...

I don't think I've ever seen these beads but I think the way they melted was fantastic - do you have to be careful about plastic fumes? - if so do take care dear Elizabeth! Hugs, Chrisx

Corrine at sparkledaysstudio.com said...

I know you are super smart about chemicals so I am sure you have some ventilation down there. Plastic is so toxic. Love your recycling though and the parchments will look great with beeswax. xox

JoZart Quilts said...

Some super ideas on your post. I have a fascination with old keys and have bought some gems in flea markets all over the world. I always wonder what the opened and what was behind the door or lid etc. Your altered keys look amazing and would make great key fobs or would even look great framed.
The plastic beads look like the ones my grandees craft with making animals, pictures then iron them.. Must try them in my craft oven.
Jo x