How to Make Thermo-Sensitive Liquid Crystal Beads

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Liquid crystals change color with pressure and temperature.
Liquid crystals change color with pressure and temperature. (Image: blue funky abstract image by javarman from Fotolia.com)

Temperature-sensitive liquid crystals are fascinating creations. They are responsible for the color-changing features of mood rings and similar jewelry. The structure of liquid crystals responds to temperature -- the arrangement of the molecules in the substance changes, affecting the way the liquid crystal absorbs light. In popular mood jewelry, the liquid crystal material alters its color in response to changes in the temperature of the wearer's skin. You can make your own "mood" creations using liquid crystal sheets, which you can find through companies that sell scientific supplies to schools. Wind the material into beads or wrap existing beads with scraps of liquid crystal sheet.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper or plastic sheet
  • Cutting mat or sheet of corrugated cardboard
  • Temperature-sensitive liquid crystal Mylar sheets
  • Sharp hobby knife
  • Steel ruler
  • Spray-on contact cement
  • Drinking straws
  • Tissue paper
  • Silicone decoupage sealer
  • Smooth-sided wooden or plastic beads
  • Toothpick

Cylindrical Liquid Crystal Beads

Cover your working area with plastic sheeting or old newspapers and lay your cutting mat on top.

Cut rectangular strips from the temperature-sensitive liquid crystal Mylar sheet, 1 inch wide and as long as your drinking straw plus 1/2 inch. Use the steel ruler as a guide.

Cover half of the end of your temperature-sensitive Mylar rectangle with a piece of newspaper or plastic. Spray the Mylar sheet and a drinking straw with cement spray. Wait 30 seconds.

Press the drinking straw onto one edge of the sheet, making sure it is perfectly straight. Wrap the Mylar sheet around the straw, holding the sheet by the unsprayed end. Allow the cement to set. Cut the covered drinking straw into sections to make beads. Cover with a layer of silicone decoupage sealer. If you want fatter beads, you can wrap the straw with tissue paper before adding a layer of temperature-sensitive sheet.

Oval Beads

Cut strips from the liquid crystal sheets, half an inch wide at the base and tapering to a point.

Spray a strip and a drinking straw with contact cement. Wait 30 seconds. Press the larger end of the Mylar strip to the straw and swiftly roll it up.

Trim the drinking straw close to the bead. Cover with a layer of decoupage sealer and allow to dry.

Wrapped Beads

Cut a strip of temperature sensitive Mylar sheet that is long and wide enough to wrap around your bead, plus a little overlap.

Push a toothpick into the bead. Spray the bead on all sides with contact cement, holding it by the toothpick. Spray the Mylar sheet. Wait 30 seconds.

Wrap the bead in the temperature-sensitive sheet, pressing down firmly. Allow the cement to set fully. Cover with a layer of sealer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a sharp hobby knife. Dull blades may cause the material to tear. For wrapped beads, your beads need to have straight sides. Cylinder shapes work best.

References

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