Growing crystals

Inspired by one of Martha Stewart’s holiday ornaments, Sofía and I grew our own borax-crystal suncatchers. And while they certainly don’t look anything like Martha’s, they’re pretty (and dead easy and educational to boot) enough that we will probably be making them again.

Make a suncatcher creation out of a pipe cleaner. Then mix 9 tbsp (a generous 1/2 cup) of borax powder (a laundry booster, available in any supermarket) with 3 cups very very hot water. Pour the solution into a tall vessel that will hold your suncatcher without letting it touch the sides or bottom (I found a quart-sized screw-top Tupperware to work well). Lay a popsicle stick or chopstick or skewer or pen across the top of the vessel. Hang the suncatcher from the popsicle stick via a wire. Make sure it’s submerged and not touching the sides or bottom of the vessel…. then let it hang there for 8-12 hours.

Seriously, the hardest part was making sure that all our hands and countertops were clean of Borax powder afterwards – you oughtn’t ingest that stuff.

It’s really very cool to watch. Nothing for hours, and then all of a sudden crystals start appearing on the sides, the bottom, clustering on odd pipe-cleaner hairs, even dimpling the surface of the water. I found that Sofía’s “strawberry” worked slightly better than my heart because it had just a bit more borax in it, and I think next time I’ll be a bit more generous. I’d like our next suncatchers to look more like Martha’s snowflakes and less… um… pipe-cleaner-craft-ish.

But you know, as long as Sofía’s this delighted then who cares?

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