Craft Advent: Day 17: A Very Beady Christmas

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Jill from Proper Fud for #CraftAdvent2015 today. I love Jill's blog for healthy family recipes and brilliant stories about her two gorgeous boys. Not only is she a great cook but she's got a mean-creative streak too (e.g. how cool are these knee patches?! and look how funky their family Elf is!). My girls have only recently gotten interested in 'ironing beads' (as they call them) but we haven't yet managed to make anything very exciting. Jill, however, is a bit of an expert - she even has GOLD beads in her stash - and these gorgeous snowflakes look absolutely fabulous.
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My five year old loves Hama beads. Or Perler, or the Ikea ones, or the ones you get in Tiger - he's not fussy. Any of the ones you iron to make a picture. He knows about Pinterest for inspiration and how to look up things on it (that is, boss me about to look things up for him) and so we've made lots of little characters that adorn his room. I have an eyeball coaster we made together on my desk in work, we have an R2D2 bauble on the Christmas tree. But he's starting to make specific requests - there's a Millennium Falcon in my future - so I stocked up on white and shades of grey. I know - how exciting. But I have a bit of a thing for grey interiors so before he's got near the new beads I've got my grubby mitts on for a Christmas project. 

By far the easiest thing to make with these beads is a bowl - and doing exactly that in nice Christmas colours was my original idea when Sadhbh was putting together her #CraftAdvent2015. My eldest has made several; they're perfect for holding the many precious items of five year olds or for adoring grandparents to put in pride of place somewhere amongst the rubble bestowed on them by grandkids. In true obstinate form, when I asked him to help me put together this post he point blank refused. Though he did make the candy cane in the background of these pictures and is apparently leaving it out for Santa.

So, it was just me then. These little snowflake decorations aren't difficult, but they take a little while. I loaded up Netflix on my iPad and sat it in front of me while I made them, but I guess you could just practice a bit of mindfulness while you go - the repetitive nature and steady hand required of the task is quite calming. Disclaimer: ONLY applies if you do this after your children are asleep. A toddler plunging his hand into a jar of beads and yanking it out with gay abandon is not calming. Not at all. I did a lot of sweeping before I gave up and decided this was a solo activity.   
You will need
  • White beads (48 per snowflake)
  • Light grey beads (37 per snowflake)
  • A selection of brightly coloured beads. (24 per snowflake) I have mixed packs of neon and glitter beads as well as some fancy goldy ones but you can use your basic primary colours just as easily here.
  • Something to hang them. I like plain ol' string. You could use thread but be warned that catgut or it's ilk might melt if you thread before ironing.
  • A round pegboard. Mine is from an ikea multipack.
Start in the middle with your grey bead, then surround that in white, then surround that in your chosen colour.
You can keep going out in circles but I prefer to work by colour. I do the coloured spokes, fill in the grey, add on the white then add the final grey tips.

Before you iron, cut about 25cm of string and thread it though one of the grey tip beads. You should still be able to push the bead down onto the board.
Cover your design and board with parchment paper and lay a hot iron down over the paper for about 20 seconds. Don't move it around too much and don't apply pressure. Carefully lift the edge of the paper to see if your beads have fused properly: if they haven't lay the paper back down and go over any areas you need to.
I look at beads designs on Pinterest all the time and they barely look melted at all so I do not know how on earth they stay together. I don't mind if I have to go back over, or one side is a little more squishy than the other - we're looking for homemade chic here not Etsy-ready.
Finally, when your creation has cooled slightly peel it off the board and pop something heavy on top while it cools. A breadboard or a pan of water are usually closest to hand for me. This stops them curving up at the edges as they cool. And you need the board for the next one...go on! What are you waiting for?

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