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Perler Beads and Accessories

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Anyone who visited the toy department of a craft store has probably seen Perler Beads. I never gave them a second thought until family friends (and their children) showed me over 100 pieces of finished artwork, dozens of shaped pegboards, and a huge bin of Perler beads. My daughter and I immediately joined in the fun. Within a few weeks, we were proud owners of 11,000 assorted color Perler Beads, assorted shaped pegboards, an idea book, E-Z Tweezies, and a bunch of finished artwork.


Perler beads are completely non-toxic cylindrical shaped beads which are made in the USA and are available in over 30 colors. To create artwork, simply slip beads over the pegs on the pegboard to create a design. When finished lay the special parchment paper on top of the design and use a warm iron in a circular pattern for 10 seconds to fuse the design and allow to cool. Remove the parchment paper, flip the design over, re-cover with the parchment paper and fuse the reverse side of the design.

The designs above were created by my 8-year-old daughter. The sailboats, candy cane and flower are her original designs.

Interested? Michael’s and JoAnn’s have starter kits in their $1 sections. The kits contain a small reusable pegboard, pattern, parchment paper and beads. Many holiday kits are available and prices are deeply discounted after holidays.

It is a pretty simple process but there is definitely a learning curve. This is what I have learned:

  • Before the design is ironed the beads are very loose. Bumping or tipping the pegboard will cause beads to dislodge necessitating some repair work before ironing.
  • The directions say to use a “medium” setting on the iron. My iron does not have a medium setting and it took me a few tries to find my optimum setting.
  • It generally takes me more than 10 seconds to fuse the top side of my design. I often peek under the parchment to make sure that the entire design is fused. If it is not, beads will come off when you flip it over. Take your time. I usually leave the parchment on the piece when I flip it so if a piece is loose it has a better chance of staying in place for the reverse ironing.
  • The ironed pieces tend to curl a bit on their edges as they cool. Try leaving the parchment on the piece and put a heavy book on it so it will flatten as it cools.
  • When ironing for children (and I recommend this), it is beneficial to iron for some extra time to melt the beads a bit more on one side. Children will want to handle their creations, and that way their creation will be more sturdy. The downside is that the finished design might not be so pretty on the extra melty side.
  • If beads break off the finished piece (and they are somewhat brittle and fragile), you can try to realign the piece and re-iron it. Personally, I haven’t had good results with that method. Instead, I use a good clear craft glue to stick it back together. The beads are cylinders, so it can be difficult to get the pieces aligned properly. Be patient!

Everyone has their own way of organizing their supplies, but a popular way is to sort beads by color and store them in a bead organizer case. I sorted our 11,ooo bead bucket over several days while watching movies and found it very relaxing. Those who don’t want to sort can come to my house (ha ha, not really), or order beads in single color packs. A bead bucket offers a wide assortment, and is perfect for a beginner. My friends and I tend to use more black beads, so we order those in bulk.


One tool that I HIGHLY recommend are the E-Z Tweezies. They are bright green plastic and come in a two-pack. E-Z Tweezies are very easy to use and are lightweight. They are perfect for picking up a stray bead in my bead box. I also use them to place beads inside a design or to remove a bead from the center of a design. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 using them effectively.

Above I am using E-Z Tweezies to create designs on the large 6×6 inch clear board and alphabet/ number board. Some of my beads are stored in a bead holder.

Originally, the reusable pegboards were brightly colored and came in small and large sizes. Recently, Perler has marketed clear boards which allow you to follow a pattern under the board. There are online sites and software where you can create custom designs to be printed. Last year, Perler came out with 6×6 clear square pegboards which are interlocking to create larger 12 inch x 12 inch artwork. There is also a large circle and smaller shapes such as animals, flowers and transportation. The shaped pegboards are great for kids or people who want to stick with a traditional design. I reach for the small hexagon and large circle most often for free-form work.


More advanced artists have turned shaped templates into all sorts of creations, often having nothing to do with the original shape. For example, I used the small hexagon to create the purple flower and owl above. The Pop Tart is based on a sample I saw in Idea Book II. Perler Beads has an online gallery which is updated monthly and it is packed with creative ideas from artists of all ages. Be sure to check out these Retro Video Game Coasters on Craftster!

Shoes and snowflakes are two of the most fragile designs- areas that are only 1-2 beads wide are extremely vulnerable to breakage.

Perler beads, parchment and some styles of pegboards are available at chain craft stores such as Michael’s, Jo Ann’s and AC Moore. Many E-Bay sellers offer single color beads in bulk and hard-to-find in the US Hema pegboards. Hema beads (available in Europe) are very similar to Perler beads, and their uniquely shaped pegboards can be used with Perler Beads. The full line of Perler products (including idea books and E-Z Tweezies) are available online from Perlerbeads.com and KoolStuff4Kids.com. I have ordered from KoolStuff4Kids and my order arrived quickly. There’s also a TON of Perler Beads and accessories at Amazon: Perler bead supplies on Amazon, and if you buy them through that link, you’ll help support Craft Critique!

Pros:

  • Over 30 colors of beads which include glow-in-the-dark, neon and metallics.
  • Basic supplies are available in any chain craft store.
  • Small trial kits are available for $1.00

Cons:

  • Some of the pegboards are are not available in stores and must be special ordered.
  • The finished pieces are brittle and can be prone to breakage.

Bottom line:
If you want to try Perler Beads, try a starter kit for $1 which will include everything you need but an iron. The finished product is a bit brittle and can break easily but it can be repaired with glue or be re-ironed. It is a fun craft and good for one person or a large group. Follow a pattern or be creative and make your own design. I rate it 9/10.

Have you tried Perler beads? We’d love to see your projects! Leave us a link in the comment section so we can check you out!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t forget to get your entries in for our Valentine’s Day Blog Carnival!

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14 Responses to Perler Beads and Accessories

  1. Avatar
    Julia Stainton February 10, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    NOw this brings back memories! My older kids used to make these years ago. I just may have to buy some more now that the younger ones are getting to the right age. Fun and inexpensive craft.

  2. Avatar
    sherisa of L'élephant Rose February 10, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    lolol!!! My old bff in high school made me a bunch of stuff for my birthday when we were in the 10th grade with this stuff. I didn’t know what it was. lol I still have it somewhere. This is a sweet memory.

  3. Avatar
    IamSusie February 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    Perler Beads are awesome! Sometimes people don’t know this name and they call them “those melty beads”. I did a swap once of perler bead projects. I learned that it is easy to stitch these onto something as a patch. I also made a 3-dimensional box that held together really well.
    I love the video game coasters people make with these: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=206297.0

  4. Avatar
    Nevis February 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    This brings back memories! I remember making those as a kid with my mom!

  5. Avatar
    lois February 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    my four year old granddaughter loves them! She is a very busy kid but shows amazing patience just sitting and putting all the beads onto the holders for me to iron.

  6. Avatar
    Kelly Mellott February 10, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    I totally remember this being a hot item when I was in school! This would be a great project for younger kids (with parental supervision on the iron of course!) Thanks for reminding me!

  7. Avatar
    Creative Mish February 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    My kids loved these when they were young!

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    Scrappy Rat February 11, 2009 at 1:51 am #

    I love your poptart! That’s adorable. Tempting to try, but then, I’d have to get an iron. My clothes like being wrinkly!

  9. Avatar
    Etha February 11, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    What a neat review, I’ve always wondered about these colorful beady things!

  10. Avatar
    pezadoodle July 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!! me & my boys used to play with these ALL THE TIME when they were little!!!!! one year we made a whole bunch of different snowflakes and stuff for xmas ornaments and I STILL HANG THEM EVERY YEAR! back then the supplies were much more limited – looks like they have come along way! can’t wait til my 2 YO is old enough so i can play with these again!

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    Scrap Kia April 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    I remember making these all the time…they were really in when I was in 2nd grade. Now my nieces and nephew make them at my parents house (I had a huge stash that still is around).

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous July 27, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Melty Beads are a waste of your money!! I tried to make the field hockey logo and the beads stuck to the so called ‘wax paper’. The wax paper they give you is more like tissue paper!! >:O Also, some of the beads that came in the container I bought were broken and others had extra plastic on the bead which made it hard to but next to other beads on the peg board. Therefore buying Melty Beads is like throwing money down a sewer!

    Perler Beads are so much better! The wax paper is really wax paper, and there is no extra plastic on the beads. The perler beads don’t stick completely to the wax paper and overall it is just easier to use and less time consuming than Melty Beads!

  13. Avatar
    LisaAnn June 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    We have played with them before and it would be fun to win some to try them again since it’s been a few years 🙂

    lhy5@yahoo.com

  14. Avatar
    Noella August 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    I played with these as a child and just ordered some for my daughter’s Christmas present! I’m so excited to do this craft with her 🙂