I love a good suncatcher craft over here at Babble Dabble Do, and this crystallized one we just tackled was actually a happy accident. Crystal Suncatchers are a fun science experiment for kids that are an offshoot of our popular crystal growing project: Overnight Crystal Gardens. Consider this project the sequel; it can either be done on its own or as a supplement to the crystal gardens. I recommend doing both projects because they are easy and the results are incredible to look at!
So here’s how this accidental project came to be: After all the experimenting we did testing out Epsom salt crystal gardens, I kept pouring off the excess liquid to look at the gardens and noticed that any water that spilled and dried crystallized. I racked my brain for a way to “preserve” these gorgeous puddles of crystals when it occurred to me to try creating suncatchers using plastic lids.[clickToTweet tweet=”Turn crystals into suncatchers!” quote=”Turn crystals into suncatchers!”]
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Fun Science Experiment:
- Epsom Salt
- Clear Recycled Plastic Lids- use the clearest you can find
- Empty Jar
- Bowl or glass measuring cup
- Microwave (optional)
If you are doing this experiment on it’s own, start with the following steps:
- Step One | Measure You will be using a ratio of 1:1 water to Epsom Salt for this project. Add 1 cup of Epsom salt to an empty glass jar.
- Step Two | Heat the Water Add 1 cup of water to a microwave safe bowl. Heat the water in the microwave for 45 seconds. Alternatively use very hot tap water and skip the microwave.
- Step Three | Combine Pour the water into the jar with the salt. Do this quickly so that the water is warm. Stir the salt and water for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the salt.
- Step Four | Make Your Suncatchers See steps 5-9 below.
If you are doing this experiment as Part 2 of the Crystal Gardens experiment start here:
- Step Five Place several plastic lids on a flat-bottomed tray in a sunny location where they can remain undisturbed.
- Step Six Pour off some of the excess liquid from your jar/crystal garden into the recycled plastic lids. Use just enough to cover the bottom of the lid. DON’T OVERFILL!
- Step Seven Place your lids in sunny location. Depending on how much liquid has been added it will take a few hours or a day to start crystallizing. I know it will look like lids full of water at first but be patient!
- Step Eight When the liquid has completely evaporated your crystal suncatcher is ready! You will be able to see lovely crystal structures from both side of the lid.
- Step Nine VERY carefully poke a small hole in the edge of the lid and thread a piece of string through the hole. Tie in a knot and hang your suncatcher up!
- I recommend using the cooled liquid after the crystal gardens have formed. It will make for the most interesting looking crystals. You will also have a “preview” of some sorts because the type of crystals that have formed in the jar will resemble the types of crystals that will form in the suncatchers. Needle like crystal gardens will form more needle like suncatchers. Gardens that ended up with larger crystals will make for larger crystals in your suncatchers.
- These are VERY fragile! One big bump and your crystal suncatcher may crumble. I recommend an adult handling the threading and hanging part of the project. Make a few in case you lose one!
- Over time your crystals will begin to dry out and harden even more. Eventually they will whiten as the salt dries out completely. These suncatchers will have a limited lifespan. We have just made ours but I would expect that they will last a week or two.
- Use the clearest types of lids you can for this experiment so you can see the crystals from both sides. The best type is the completely clear plastic found in food packaging, some to-go cup lids (like those used for iced coffee) or mini sauce and salsa lids at restaurants.
Victor Vaserely. Crystals always remind me of the work of Op Artist Victor Vaserely. Vaserely’s work is all about warping geometry. This particular print reminds me of what crystal structures would look like if they were man made. My parents had a few Vaserely prints in our house when I was growing up and as a kid I thought they were some strange optical illusions. As an adult I have a deeper appreciation for his work; yes, it does symbolize the 60’s and 70’s because op art was very popular at the time, but the exploration of both color and form in such an eye catching manner is appealing to both kids and adults. For more info on Vaserely click here.
I love accidental projects!
This fun science experiment was definitely a happy side discovery after tackling our Overnight Crystal Gardens. The great thing about this complimentary project is that you can have a better view of the lacey texture and patterns of the crystal structures that form. For further exploration drop a pinch of the super saturated liquid on a slide and look at it under a microscope!
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