At the close of a bruising winter, find ephemeral beauty with these easy-to-make homemade ice suncatchers. These mini ice sculptures, which you can fill with berries, seeds, leaves, sliced fruit or even materials from the craft box, reflect the light, like momentary, sun-catching crystals. You can make them and freeze them outside, in suitably cold temperatures, but they can also be made in your freezer.
Ice suncatchers can be constructed in nearly any size or shape. An aluminum pie plate produces one large, round, flat ornament. A Bundt pan creates a wreath-shaped ornament, which can be hung from heavy outdoor branches. Silicone ice molds, available in different shapes and sizes, offer three-dimensional suncatchers. You can also use cookie cutters for diverse shapes (wrap the bottom of the cutter in plastic wrap so that the water stays in place as it’s freezing). For a family activity, use a muffin tin and make a six or 12 at a time; this way, each family member can design his or her own.
Collecting the materials to freeze in the suncatchers is part of the fun. Outside, look for natural materials, like pine needles, small sticks, acorns, pine cones, dried leaves and holly. Use the backyard or local park as your source, selecting items with ample color and texture.
Inside your home, thinly sliced citrus, fresh cranberries and even dehydrated apple or pear are worthy fridge and pantry substitutes. (But avoid foods like raisins, which are poisonous to dogs, and dried beans, which are poisonous to birds). If you prefer to use man-made materials, consider sequins, buttons, rhinestones, pieces of ribbon and even glitter. Be sure to place the finished suncatchers that contain nonnatural materials in places where you can easily collect the items when they melt.