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GAH! I hate sorting Perler Beads. In fact, I try to avoid it by buying beads in bags of 1,000 as much as humanly possible.
For me personally, I don’t even like to bead unless the beads are sorted. It takes a gazillion times longer to pick through a Perler Bead bucket as I’m working than it does to work with beads that are already neatly placed in individual containers by color.
Unfortunately, from time to time, I end up with a bucket of Perler Beads that needs to be sorted.
So I sort them.
After many years of hand picking as I sort, I learned an awesome trick that makes Perler Bead sorting so much easier. It’s the straw method.
STRAW METHOD?!? I know, it sounds ridiculous, but all you need is some tape and a straw to make an amazing gadget that will help you sort your Perler Beads.
So if you find yourself with a bucket of beads, you might just be crazy. I mean why else would you buy a bucket that needs to be sorted?
Oh guess it may be because you just REALLY wanted all those glow in the dark colors you can’t find at the store. Yeah, that’s me.
Or it may be someone knew you loved Perler Beads, so they gifted all their old beads to you.
You may be one of those people who find sorting beads cathartic. Yeah, that’s NOT me.
It may even be that you are new to Perler Beads and started with a bucket. Psst, If you are new, check out my Perler Bead Guide, it had some great tips for beginning beaders.
ANYWAY, you have a bucket you need to sort it…try this method it works.
Before we begin, let me give you just a little bit of background. I tried this method using multiple kinds of straws and tape. The way I am telling you to make it worked best for me. I encourage you to also try with different materials, but I could sort Perler Beads the best with the materials I used below.
Supplies needed for Perler Bead sorter
You only need three things to make an awesome Perler Bead sorter: washi tape, a sharp knife and a smoothie straw.
You could probably use any straw, but I recommend a smoothie straw because it is wider than a normal straw. I’ve got some normal straws at home and they were not wide enough to use as a sorter. Plus a smoothie straw will not only will hold more beads, but the beads will have more room to travel up the straw. You should be able to purchase smoothie straws at the grocery store, that’s where I got mine. If you can’t check out these smoothie straws on Amazon.
Making your Perler Bead sorter
A Perler Bead sorter is so easy to make, you can honestly put it together in less than a minute. No joke.
The first thing you want to do is get an inch piece of tape. Yes, I used washi tape. You can try it with regular scotch tape, but I found that it didn’t work as well. The Perler Beads didn’t stay up the straw. Although most people I’ve seen use this method use scotch tape, I couldn’t get it to work as well.
You need to place that piece of tape over one of the ends of your smoothie straw as pictured below.
Then you need to take a 1 inch piece of tape and wrap it around the same end of your straw to secure the first piece of tape.
Finally, take a knife and cut a small slit in the tape that is covering the end of the straw. Cut it in the opposite direction of the two loose sides of the tape. I’ve showed it in the image below, and it does make a difference. If you cut it the opposite way, the beads won’t stick to the tape for some reason.
TAA DAA!!! You are now the proud owner of a DIY Perler Bead sorter.
Using your Perler Bead Sorter
I wish I could say your sorter is a magic wand, and now that it’s created, all you need to do is wave it around and your Perler Beads will magically sort themselves. Alas, they won’t. It is pretty simple to use though.
Pour your Perler Beads out on a tray or plate and then put the tape end over a bead in the color you want to sort first. Magically, by the power of tape, your bead should stay in the straw. Continue this with the beads of the same color until you have a straw filled with one color of beads. You can then just dump the beads out of the open end of the straw into whatever container you are using to hold your beads.
It may sound confusing, but I made this quick video to show you exactly how easy it is. It’s only 30 second, and you can see at the end how to get the Perler Beads out of the straw.
Now that you have your very own tool for sorting Perler Beads, go forth and sort.