Sydney is hooked on Perler beads. Seriously, she's got it bad.
I bought the Perler Beads and a small selection of their pegboards several years ago, and Willow and I played with them a bit while Sydney napped (if only she still took two-hour afternoon naps...), but they caught neither of our fancies as more than a novelty, and so they've sat, on the craft shelves, for years.
There they sat, temptingly on a low shelf, ready for a certain six-year-old to discover in her own time.
Since their discovery, the Perler beads have spent their time either on our big living room table or off of it, scattered across the floor, until the kid responsible finishes throwing her fit and picks them up and sets them back on the table. Other than mealtimes and schoolwork, Sydney designs with them almost constantly. She makes things like elaborate hearts and colorful fish, challenging her fine motor skills and exploring patterning and symmetry.
I don't completely have the patience for Perler beads, and every time I finish a design and go to iron it and accidentally bump the design and all the Perler beads fall off and I have to re-do the design, I get pissed. I did join Syd yesterday, however, to make her a tree for her dollhouse:
The renovation of her dollhouse is something that Sydney has wanted to do for YEARS. She wants to give her plain, unfinished wooden dollhouse the works--paint, wallpaper, carpet, etc. I've been shamefully putting her off for just as long, because, frankly, the dollhouse cost too much to end up looking like crap (instead, I let her paint a small dollhouse), but now that my Sydney is six, and has the patience and fine motor skills and design sense to work with Perler beads, I'm thinking that it's finally time for that special project.
Just...after Thanksgiving, you know?
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
We've been making a lot of fused plastic bead suncatchers lately--the kiddos LOVE them, and I'm secretly trying to use up our huge stash of completely random beads:
|and two buttons--oops!|
Other than the pasta ones, which we dyed ourselves (and which won't work in these suncatchers, so we had to sort them out), they've all been given to us from here and there and everywhere, completely unsorted, and when they're gone I'll be replacing them on an as-needed basis with a much smaller number of very carefully sorted beads, so that we'll have an easier time getting organized for specific projects.
To make the suncatchers, start out with a set of novelty silicon muffin tins--you'll see in some of the photos that I also use regular metal muffin tins, but since those don't bend they're actually much harder to get the finished suncatcher out of, and I don't recommend using them unless you absolutely need that particular shape.
Fill the bottom of each mold with just enough beads to cover the bottom:
The beads will flatten and spread as they melt, so you want your layer to be pretty thin to maintain the suncatcher's translucency:
I move our garage sale toaster oven outside to the back deck for this project, and I would NOT do it otherwise. Melting plastic is a nasty business, and it will absolutely smoke and give off fumes, and you do not want those fumes in your house. So if you do not have a toaster oven that you can haul outside for this project, then I strongly recommend that you simply not do it. Wait around for garage sale season to come back--our toaster oven cost $4, and we seriously use it multiple times a day.
Set the toaster oven to around 250 degrees, and don't bother letting it preheat. Just set your silicon mold on the tray, put the tray in the toaster oven--
--and come back to check on it every few minutes. You'll first see the beads start to look really soft and slumpy--
--but leave them in until the beads look flat and the surface of the suncatcher is even:
Take the tray out of the oven, transfer the mold from the tray to a safe spot for it to rest, and let it cool:
The finished suncatchers should be quite sturdy, and I really like the way that they look:
To hang them, you simply need to drill a hole, add twine, and string them up! It's long been in the back of my mind to make a really cool Calder-style mobile, but so far we've been hanging them all individually, kind of like ornaments for our trellis and our trees:
I've got a miniature skull silicon mold set, so now I'm considering melting the beads in a thick layer in the skull molds, then drilling a hole through horizontally to make giant skull beads.
Because the world NEEDS giant skull beads, yes?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sydney has been taking these awesomely deep, long afternoon naps lately, giving me and Willow time to work with materials that Sydney finds more pleasure in, um, tossing about while squealing with joy. Yesterday we strung beads on necklaces, but today we worked with Perler beads.
Perler beads are these crazy plastic beads that you arrange on a pegboard and then iron to fuse together, making flat and colorful shapes. When I first saw them I was pretty resistant to the idea of buying these new plastic materials in all the different colors you'd need, just to melt them, but Willow worked with them on a visit to Grandma Beck's house and we acquired a large bucket of them there, and I bought the girls a small set on sale at Joann's for a treat one day, so somehow we're pretty well set anyway.
Obviously, what I want to make most from Perler beads is old-school Nintendo stuff, like these coasters on Crafster or magnets or just the little figures that you could probably do a lot of stuff with. Old-school Nintendo and Atari images are extremely well-suited for crafts like beading or cross-stitching, because you can transfer the image pixel-by-pixel. Ah, 8-bit video! I haven't yet used my Michael's gift card plus 40% coupon to purchase one of these versatile large pegboards, however, so this is what Willow and I actually made:I thought the shapes, with coordinating colors, might make interesting decorations in the house--stars in the girls' bedroom, for instance, with the ceiling painted like a sky, or pink/purple shapes in the playroom, with its pink/lavender walls. These here are my first attempt, though, and I realize now after actually, you know, reading the instructions that I didn't iron well at all--you're supposed to only iron for 10 seconds and in a circular motion, whereas I ironed for more like 30 seconds, just bearing down hard, and I didn't flip the shapes over and iron the other side, which you're also supposed to do--and I'm not terribly pleased with the color choice in my creation, the heart, but Willow's creation is awesome. Can you tell what it is? A turtle, of course! Willow doesn't have near the manual dexterity to actually manipulate these teeny little beads (they do sell Big Beads for preschoolers, which would be cool if we ever found them at a garage sale or thrift store), so she mostly handed me beads and told me what to do with them and lost herself in bead reveries while pouring them through her hands like water, but you can clearly see the turtle's eyes, the color and placement of which she directed, and the legs and tail and shell and all. Such the artist.