We were first introduced to pipe cleaners and borax crystal ornaments when my older children were in elementary school. We made borax snowflakes for a science experiment and had so much fun. In fact, they made so many snowflakes and other crystal ornaments that they sold them for .25 each at a craft fair that year.
By the way, I know it’s not politically correct to call these pipe cleaners, they are chenille stems these days, but I’m an old mom and I’ve always called them pipe cleaners. Just know we’re talking about the same thing.
Also, we had a great time talking about molecules and why borax makes crystals while we were doing these. Esther was so excited to see the crystals she kept calling them the crystal molecules. We probably need to re-watch the molecule episode of The Magic School Bus and capitalize on the excitement about learning about molecules.
You are not limited to crystallizing pipe cleaners. We’ve used sand dollars and I’ve also see doilies used. They look beautiful.
String (kite string, yarn, baker’s twine)
Boiling water (it is really important that it’s boiling)
Food coloring (0ptional)
Container (wide mouth mason jar or bucket)
Pencil or paint stirrer
We made all kinds of designs, there is no need to limit yourself to Christmas themes. This is the most time consuming part, but it’s also the part where you get to sit with your kids and create together. In my opinion, this is the most fun part of the project. Esther made “Olaf” from Frozen, it’s the white one that looks like two circles put together with a little orange on it, Benjamin watched a video on how to make a celtic knot. Whatever they create is good.
Since we were making alot we used a bucket and paint stirrers to hang our ornaments from. We put them in the plain water to make sure that they were all completely submerged but that they did not touch the bottom, sides or each other (this is really important). To hang them, we tied a string to them and then stapled it to the paint stirrer. You can just tie a knot around the paint stirrer,or if your string is long enough, just wrap it around several times. Make sure you don’t have any random string in the borax water.
Next you need to completely saturate the boiling water with borax. You will need approximately 1/4 cup of borax for every cup of boiling water.
Suspend the pipe cleaners in the borax water and let sit overnight. Don’t think that after a couple of hours they’re done and it didn’t work, let them sit for at least 12 hours.
In the morning take them out of the water, tidy them up a little while they are still wet and let air dry. I just cut them off the paint stirrer and I’ll add attach another string to hang them.
- Pipe Cleaners
- String (kite string, yarn, baker's twine)
- Boiling water (it is really important that it's boiling and not just hot)
- Food coloring (optional)
- Container (wide mouth mason jar or bucket)
- Pencil or paint stirrer
- To make a snowflake, cut two pipe cleaners into thirds.
- Twist the six pieces into a snowflake, connecting them in the middle.
- Add string to the top of the snowflake to hang it in the bucket or jar.
- If you are using a bucket use a paint stirrer to hang the ornaments from. If you're only doing a few you can use a wide mouth mason jar and a pencil.
- Fill the bucket (or jars) with boiling water.
- Tie the ornaments to the paint stirrer (or pencil) and make sure that they were all completely submerged but that they did not touch the bottom, sides or each other (this is really important).
- Temporarily remove the paint stirrers or pencils (with the ornaments tied to them) from the bucket or jar.
- Next, saturate the water with borax. Stir in about 1/4 cup borax for each cup of boiling water.
- Replace the paint stirrers or pencils, making sure that the ornaments are completely submerged in the borax water and they are not touching anything.
- Make sure you don't have any random string hanging in the borax water.
- Let sit for 12 hours.
- Remove from water and let dry.
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Here are a few other Christmas ornament ideas you can make with your family…
Decoupaged Christmas Ornaments from SchneiderPeeps
Thumb Print Christmas Ornaments from Mom on Dealz
Glitter Ornament from Glued to My Crafts
Cinnamon Ornaments from The Kitchen is My Playground
Salt Dough Ornaments from Sweet Pennies from Heaven
Baking Soda and Corn Starch Ornaments from Architecture of a Mom
What are some of your handmade Christmas ornament ideas? Be sure to share in the comments!