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DIY Rainbow Crystal Ribbons

Looking to fill some summer time with a quick and hassle-free art project made entirely from common household items? This project was one of many that campers try at our “Mad Lab” summer camp, and you and your child can easily make it happen by following the steps below!

Supplies, assemble!  You’ll need:

• Borax, a common multi-purpose household cleaner.

• Pipe cleaners—the more colorful, the better!

• A wide popsicle stick or tongue depressor

• A glass, jar, or vase. Any vessel that will hold water, really!

• Measuring spoons/cups

Next, arrange the pipe cleaners in a pattern that your child likes, so that they are flush against each other and there’s no separation. You can do a rainbow pattern like we do here, but feel free to experiment with other patterns!

Place the wide popsicle stick crosswise along the edge of the pipe cleaners, then fold them over.Make sure they’re firmly folded!

Manipulate the cleaners so that they form a cool wavy shape, being sure to keep them in place against the popsicle stick with your thumb.

In a teapot or electric kettle, heat 2 cups of water until nearly boiling. The hotter the water, the more saturated your solution will be. If your vessel wont hold this much water, that’s okay! Just adjust the measurements in proportion with the 6 T. of Borax.

*Note: If your vessel won’t hold that much water, that’s okay. Just adjust the amount of Borax you add accordingly!  E.g., 4.5 T Borax to 12oz of water. 

Once the water is ready, pour into the vessel. You will want to take over for this step!

Pour in 6 T. of Borax into the hot water. A little extra won’t hurt! 

Stir it up with a knife or spoon!

Gently dip your ribbon into the mixture so that the stick rests across the edges of the vessel.

Patience is, as ever, a virtue. Let it sit overnight or longer. As the water cools, the Borax particles will settle on the pipe cleaners, accumulating on one seed crystal and growing bigger in size and number as time passes!

When you’re ready, remove the ribbon! You’ll want to grip the ribbon right below the popsicle stick, as it will be a bit stuck to the edges or bottom of the vessel. Snip off  the ribbon (there will be likely a small portion that wasn’t submerged and it’s crystallized), and there you have it! This may look like rock candy, but it isn’t edible. Just admire your glistening crystalline creation!


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