Hmm, I wondered if it was indeed as simple as that. And now I’m going to share my own experience with this, good and bad seemingly easy project.
I am using pony beads. They are bigger than perler beads and take a bit longer to melt, but I liked the colours better. The majority of the tutorials (as seen here) on the web tell you to grease the inside of an oven proof bowl with cooking oil or non stick spray, put beads in the bowl, pushing the beads down with your hand so the climb the bowl, the oil helping them stick. I tried it. I found the oil interfered with the beads melting, especially at the bottom of the bead bowl, and it left a baked on oil residue on my mixing bowl that was near impossible to wash off. I say, no oil, just stick it outside if its cold, and it will shrink a bit as it cools. Then, pop it out. Another aspect I found of doing it this way was that you will have sharp claw like points along the top of the finished bowl from the beads melting an sliding down the dish. You may like the look (it’s pretty cool), but I found it to be too sharp. I also thought the bowls were a bit boring that way. So this is what i did…
I melted the beads in a non-stick cake pan, no oil or grease. One even layer, covering the entire bottom surface. This is the kid friendly part. They can arrange the beads in a pattern or make a shape in the beads (we did a heart shape, after I took the picture). The remaining steps are for grown ups. I then placed the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400F. Put on your exhaust fan, its normal you may get an odour as they melt. Once completely melted, I stuck the pan outside since it was zero degrees and about to snow, and let it completely cool. One solid plastic disk popped right out. This is the method people use to make them into sun catchers etc.
Next, I placed an empty pop can with the opener tab removed, upside down on a pan. I balanced and centred the plastic disk on top an it went back into the oven. This part only took a few minutes, so you cant leave it alone. The disk began melting down the can, forming a more organic shape. When I was happy with the look, out of the oven it came.
As soon as it was cool enough that the shape held, I pulled the can out (using oven mitts). This part can take a minute or two, and will result in a completely decimated cola can. If the can is really stuck or rips, get some pliers, it’ll come out with a wee bit of persuasion. Clear beads will give you a stained glass effect, but air bubbles will be more visible then with the opaque beads.
Alternately, you could lay the plastic disk over the outside of an oven proof bowl and let it melt down over it. Be sure to put a smooth layer of aluminum foil over the bowl for the plastic disk to melt on, or you will have a hell of a time getting it off after.
Now this one was an experiment. It was a bowl I did the traditional way, with the oil and such, but I wasn’t happy with it. The beads didn’t melt very well on the inside and it just looked like a blob of melted plastic inside. So I inverted the bowl onto another pop can and let it take on a new shape. Soooo much better this way, and the sharp pointed edges softened up a lot when it was re-melted. Bowl saved!
Now it looks more like an art piece!
I have a 14 inch cake pan that I’m seriously debating busting out for this project. Maybe all clear red, just in time for Christmas!