Once, long go, I bought a tube of fusible ‘Perler’ beads from Ikea. We gave them a try, but none of the kids were very interested. So they went back into the cupboard where they sat, unused and unloved for years, and years.
Now fast forward seven years. One day, after weeks of summer holidays, when I was about to give up and just plug them into the playstation permanently if only it would stop the fighting, one of the kids spotted the tub and said ‘can we use those?’ and that was the beginning of the school holidays perler bead miracle!
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After years of turning up their nose at perler beads, suddenly my kids were obsessed.
I counted my blessings after one quiet afternoon of contented patterning and ironing. I wasn’t sure what to think when they got them out again the next day, and the next. And by the fifth day I was hailing it as a full blown miracle.
All four kids happily creating, sharing, and helping each other! It was awesome!
What are these miracle Perler beads?
The are tiny (and I mean tiny) colourful beads that you arrange of a spikey mat into various patterns and designs, then you cover them with baking paper and iron them until they melt a little a fuse together. Perler is a brand name, you can also find them called Hama beads, and there are also lots of ‘generic’ fusible/melty beads like the big tub we got from Ikea.
Not all fusible beads are created equal. We’ve found the Ikea ones are great, and good value, but other cheaper generic ones we tried were not as good. So it’s worth buying brand name beads or just buying a small amount and testing them out first.
Check out this site for a good beginners guide to Perler beads.
Clever Perler bead tips.
- Using a tray or large shallow container to sort your beads is helpful.
- We also found using long handled tweezers with a pointed ends (we found some in our first aid kit) really helpful for picking up and placing the beads.
- We tried out this cool tool made from a straw to pick up and sort beads into colours.
- This video is useful for learning various ironing techniques – though the masking tape technique is way too fiddly!
- A heated skewer melts holes into finished designs so you can add strings or jump rings for necklaces or bag tags.
- You’ll also find hot glue useful for putting 3d designs together.
What can you make with Perler beads?
- There are endless ideas and patterns for perler beads online. If you are searching online, look for ones that have a graphic representation of the beads on the board, or a good, clear, photo of the design before it is ironed. Trying to work out the pattern from a finished product can be difficult.
- If you want to design your own perler bead creations these printable templates are really useful, and there is also an ipad app that might help.
- For younger kids, start with a smaller, simple pattern until they get the hang of things. Older kids have the patience for bigger more elaborate patterns and will love some of the 3D designs.
Here are a few of our favourite patterns and ideas that we’ve tried out, and a few that are on our wish list.
Three Minion designs from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
Minecraft designs from Minieco (these are great for beginners)
3D minecraft characters from Twin Dragonfly Designs
Perler bead bracelets from Red Ted Art
Easy headphone case from My Frugal Adventures
Paper clip bookmarks from the Perler site.
Perler bead Christmas ornaments from Karen Kavett – we made the 3D snitch and it is awesome!
Rainbow keychain from My Frugal Adventures.
Cool spinning tops from Babble Dabble Do.
Perler bead bookmarks from Creative Me Inspired You
Mini robots from Twin Dragonfly Designs
3D star from the Perler site.
Emoji keychain from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.
Perler bead notebook covers from Eighteen25
Perler bead bubble wands video from Make Play Film
Day of the Dead perler bead skulls from Gathering Beauty
Rainbow spinner from the Perler site.
Try one of these fun perler bead ideas, or simple search ‘perler beads’ + your favourite character, book or movie!
I hope your kids enjoy creating with melty beads as much as mine have and you get your own perler bead miracled at your house!
If you want to check out our perler bead miracle in action, I’ve created a featured instagram story with all the videos and photos I took while my kids were obsessed! I’m @picklebums on instagram, so pop over and check it out.