Perler Bead Suncatchers

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Why?
Santa forgot to tell mom that he was buying a vat of hama beads, and so mom bought an equally large vat of beads. As a result it was Hama bead art or die. These plastic babies did save us when the artic frost attacked us, leaving us hunkered down in our homes.

Hama beads can go one of two ways: incredible frustration or straight up meditation. These small beads fly off the plastic tray with the slightest accidental movement of the hand. But, on the other hand, they also come in an intoxicating number of delicious colors. Images come into being, ever so easily just by placing the beads together. And, once you get into the groove, your mind seems to go into place where time loses meaning.

How?
Hama beads come with a tray with little pins to organize your beads onto. They are created to offer makers an organized grid of beads. Those trays make me nuts. But, if you want to create a carpet of color and organic shapes, these trays are just an impediment. And, moving the tray is impossible unless you have the stillest of hands. So, I have taken to using a cardboard base covered in tape. Then I compose my image on that homemade tray. After that follow the directions, using parchment and an iron to fuse your beads.

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Challenges

  • One needs to accept that smooth curves and precise diagonals are challenging. You might use graph paper to plan out your images. Planning an image and then executing it can offer valuable experience for children in organization. But, if your children are creating a simple image, composing directly on the cardboard has a powerful directness.
  • The range of colors presents some challenges. Without a good light, one might not be able to easily notice the difference between blues and black, purples and clarets, etc. After having created a careful composition, there is nothing more frustrating that finding one pale purple bead amongst a field of white.

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