So, I joined the latest internet crafting craze and tried my hand at melting pony beads. It's an inexpensive and easy project so I do recommend it. It does have one downfall - melting plastic in your oven will give off a fume. Either open the windows and turn on a fan or do it outside in a toaster oven or BBQ.
I bought a 1lb tub of these beads in assorted transparent colors at Michael's for about $6. It made 3 projects. First, I placed a cookie cutter in the middle of a non-stick cake pan. Then I fished out the red and orange beads because they were just too intense for the other mellow colors. I used the cookie cutter to create a heart shape hope in the center. Popped it in a 400 degree oven for what the instructions said was 20 minutes; however, I preferred the effect at about 30 minutes.
After you remove from oven let it cool about thirty minutes. If it's cooled it will pop right out of the cake pan with no problem; however, the cookie cutter was not non stick so it took a bit of prying. My sun catcher is pretty sturdy because I added at least a double layer of beads but some folks who carefully place a single layer of beads say theirs is delicate. So, removing a cookie cutter without breaking the piece might be a challenge if you use a single layer of beads. Also, I did take a box cutter to the edges to smooth it a bit.
Next Jerry drilled a hole for me and I used green floral wire to create a hanger.
For second project, I filled a large cookie cutter placed on a cookie with the red and orange beads. The cookie cutter was not perfectly flat so you can see a little "run" by the tail. I will need to trim that off. I also tried to lift off the cookie cutter too early, thinking I would avoid the slight difficulty of removing the heart shaped cutter in first piece, and that caused the edges of the fish to have a slightly raised edge (which I liked :). By the way, it wasn't at all difficult to remove the cooled fish from the cookie cutter - must be the difference in removing a cutter from the melted beads versus removing the melted beads from the cookie cutter.
Finally for third piece, I dumped all the remaining beads, which included all colors, into a smaller cake pan and made an 8" disk. While it cooled I placed a stainless steel bowl on a cookie sheet then placed the cooled disk on top of the bowl and returned it to the oven. As it heated up it soften and took the shape of the bowl. That took about 10 minutes. Let it cool and then popped it off. Lesson learned - if you use a cake pan with "Ecko Baker's Secret" relief on the bottom, it will show up on your project. Can you see it on the bottom of the bowl?