Project: Beads from Plastic Bottles

I have had this project for making beads from plastic soda bottles bookmarked forever on Craftster and today was the day to try it. I just got a new heat gun last week at hobby lobby where they were on sale for $9.99.
I had everything else that I needed. I used mostly paint pens in black, white, silver and red, but I did experiment with sharpie markers too. My kitchen shears made it super easy to cut the bottles.
I stayed pretty abstract. I really liked the one on the far left before shrinking. Rolling the plastic up was slightly challenging, but when you heat the plastic up it shrinks down to make the holes smaller. The only difficulty I had was keeping the point of the triangles from sticking out. I ended up heating the point up and then rolling it on cardboard to stick it to itself. Next time I may try rolling them with the narrow end to the inside.

Here's the finished beads. I think that they look like cocoons. I cut the purple strip in half before shrinking it. This project went really fast.

I think that making lines or random dots is the way to go as more complicated designs are lost in the rolling and shrinking. If you want to make a coordinating set you could color the plastic before cutting it apart. I would also like to mention that to get the shapes even the beads should be rotated and the pliers should be stuck into both ends while melting or the beads tend to curve like crescent rolls. The paint pens worked well and give a more opaque look, but if you overheat the beads the color "burns" off the edges, I actually liked this look. Sharpies gave a more transparent look and the color selection is a lot better. This was just my first try and I will be making more of these beads. I really like how they turned out and I also like recycling. Now I just need some more colors of sharpie markers!


Cindy Lietz said...

I have done a lot of recycled and re-purposed crafts in my life. In fact I even did a television special in the 90's called "The Sophisticated Scrounge". But I have never seen this idea... How cool is that! I have got to try it to add along with my polymer clay beads.

I have a free tutorial for photo image transfers to polymer clay if you're looking to make pendants for your beads at:

Hope it gives you some ideas. Thanks for yours!

Cindy Lietz
"I learned by making mistakes... Now you don't have to."

Cindy Fischer said...

Looks extremely complicated, perhaps u could show more details ..step by step for us under achievers.

Crafterella said...

Cindy Fischer - If I remember correctly it wasn't that hard. I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure I won't revisiting this project. You should just go for it, that's one of the great things about recycled materials, there's very little investment in supplies.