Sun Catchers – EPIC FAIL (well, sort of)

Earlier this week, Zander and I decided to make pony bead sun catchers, inspired by some adorable ones made by Play at Home Mom, except that we decided to put a fun twist on it and make ours glow-in-the-dark sun catchers, thinking that they could look pretty and soak up natural light in the window all day, and then glow gently at night. So we used glow-in-the-dark star-shaped pony beads for our project instead of regular non-glowing round ones. Other than that, we followed the instructions from PAHM pretty much to the letter.

Unfortunately, our final product did not turn out at all, as I will explain below. Being the Type A personality that I am, this was initially very frustrating for me, until I remembered tonight that the important thing was the actual act of making them, and believe me, we had tremendous fun in the process!! Another good thing is that Zander is too young to really care or express disappointment that these did not turn out; I honestly think that he has already forgotten all about them. So please don’t think I am referring to the entire project as a failure; it was not. I’m just saying that for various reasons, we won’t be able to hang ours in the window or send them to friends as we had hoped. No biggie.

I think we’re going to try again when we get back home to Friday Harbor using plastic cookie cutters and possibly even our hot glue gun and see how that goes. In the meantime, here’s a photographic breakdown of what we did and what we think went wrong, so that others can learn from our mistakes, but can also see what fun it was to make these.

First, we gathered our materials on the kitchen table. We were going to make two types of sun catchers: one with glow-in-the-dark beads and one with glow-in-the-dark glitter. (By the way, this is hilarious, because until about 5 minutes ago, I totally thought the glitter version was my own original idea, until I saw that PAHM had done the exact same thing and written a separate blog about those!)

Anyway, the materials we needed included: a cookie tray, some waxed paper, cookie cutters, beads, glitter, clear Elmer’s glue, silver string (to hang them with once completed), and a big, heavy book to weigh down the cookie cutters while the glue was drying. What better book to use than the beautiful Sharkwater, by my friend, Rob Stewart?

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The first thing Zander did was dump out all of the star-shaped beads and examine them.

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Next, he tried using the cookie cutters on the beads the way we do when playing with homemade play dough or making edible sugar cookies.

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Then he began filling the cookie cutters with beads, which was exactly what was needed for this project. He must have removed the cookie cutters and started over again with bead placement at least 2 dozen times, which was great because he had so much fun doing it!

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When he was finally satisfied with his bead placement, Zander began filling the molds with clear Elmer’s glue, a job he took quite seriously.

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For our smaller stars, Zander poured some glue into the cookie cutter molds and sprinkled on lots of glow-in-the-dark glitter. He used the same technique for this that he uses when sprinkling nutritional yeast onto his food. Then we added a little bit more glue on top.

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The glitter immediately clumped in the center of the stars, so Zander’s Grandma gave him a toothpick which he used to swirl the glitter around and redistribute it more evenly.

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Once we had filled all of our molds, we placed the heavy book on top to press the cookie cutters down and keep the glue from leaking out of the bottoms. We wound up adding two more large books just to be sure we had enough pressure. Then we set them aside to wait.

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The PAHM blog said that it would probably take a few days for the glue to dry, so we waited for four days before checking. When we finally removed the books, I immediately realized MISTAKE NO. 1: We had used metal cookie cutters, which rusted terribly, and the rust had seeped into our beautiful stars. Duh. I guess that’s why PAHM used plastic ones.

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MISTAKE NO. 2: I guess we didn’t apply enough pressure, because a lot of our glue leaked out from the molds despite the weight holding them down.

But the really odd thing is that the glue that leaked out of the cookie cutters dried perfectly (see the piece above in my hand, for example), while the glue inside the cookie cutters that was supposed to hold all of the beads and glitter together was still just as liquid as the day we had poured it. I cannot come up with any rational explanation for this, which is why I’m considering using hot glue the next time we attempt this project. It baffles me.

BOTTOM LINE: These could not be salvaged, but it didn’t matter. We had a great time making them, and Zander learned about things like pouring, sprinkling, and stirring. So although the end result was a failure, the project itself was an unequivocal success!

For my next EPIC FAIL topic, I feel compelled to make one completely unrelated gripe.

I recently ordered several rolls of beautiful 100% post-consumer-recycled wrapping paper on Amazon.com. I went to great lengths to ensure that the paper was as eco-friendly as possible. However, in doing this, I fear that I have inadvertently demolished an entire forest, because even though they were a part of the same order from the same company, each roll came separately in its own GIGANTIC box with about 3 zillion square feet of brown packing paper!! I absolutely cannot understand this insanity and am totally guilt-stricken as a result of it. Maybe Zander and I can somehow build a train out of the boxes, and I’m sure my parents (who are the King and Queen of “reduce, re-use, recycle”) will be able to use up the paper over time, but come on, Amazon.com, was this really necessary??

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About Kim McCoy

Kim McCoy is a passionate animal and environmental advocate with a B.S. in Business Administration from UT Knoxville and a J.D. specializing in Animal and Environmental Law. She graduated with honors from Lewis & Clark Law School, where she served as Editor in Chief of the internationally acclaimed Animal Law Review and interned with the National Center for Animal Law and the International Environmental Law Project. Kim is a member of MENSA (the “high IQ society”) and previously worked for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in a variety of roles, including Executive Director, Director of Campaigns, and Director of Legal Affairs. Kim is also the former Executive Director of the One World One Ocean Foundation and the proud mother of a healthy, thriving son who has been vegan since conception. Currently serving as Executive Director of Big Life Foundation, which protects wildlife and wild lands in Eastern Africa, Kim remains deeply committed to the defense of animals worldwide.
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