I dedicate a lot time to making Perler Bead projects. Recently, it’s been my number one craft. I have so much fun sharing my projects and how to make them with you, my reader.
The other day someone told me that they loved one of my projects. This obviously amazing lady wanted to make my Navi in a Bottle with her daughter, but they had they had never worked with Perler Beads.
She was looking for some basic hints and help with Perler Beads. I helped her out, of course.
The whole exchange got me to thinking that I really don’t have a place on my site on the actual basics of Perler Bead.
OMG..WHAT WAS I THINKING?
I obviously needed to remedy that. My ultimate beginner’s Perler Bead guide is the remedy.
If you are new to using Perler Beads I hope you find answers to most of your beginner questions in this Perler Bead guide.
Spoiler Alert: This is a long post. I am quite passionate about Perler Beads, so I want give you a really thorough beginners guide.
BUT I know life is busy. So, I also want to give you a condensed version of how to use Perler Beads for quick reference, because I’ll be honest it’s really simple. The wordiness in this post is because I have a lot of tips and trick that I want to share.
How to use Perler Beads – Quick Perler Bead guide
- Buy Perler Beads and needed supplies.
- Pick out an amazing pattern.
- Place the Perler Beads on a pegboard according to the pattern you’ve selected.
- Cover the Perler Beads with a piece of ironing paper.
- Take a preheated iron and melt the beads on high heat for 15 – 20 seconds.
- Wait for beads to cool.
- Flip the project over, cover with ironing paper and melt again on the other side.
- Allow the project to cool, remove the paper, and enjoy your Perler Bead project.
See, I told you that it was easy. Of course there is WAY more to the wonderful world of Perler Beads, so let’s dig in.
Perler Bead Basics
If you aren’t familiar with Perler Beads, they are tiny plastic beads that can be arranged in a pattern on a pegboard, covered with ironing paper, and then melted with a hot iron. When you remove the paper you end up with a fused masterpiece. They can also be called Hama Beads, fuse beads, Artkal Beads, Melty Beads or plastic fusion beads. I mostly use Perler brand beads, so I call them Perler Beads.
There are 3 sizes of Perler Beads.
- The most common size is 5 mm, it is the only size I’ve ever used. It’s the easiest to find at the store, and it has the biggest variety of colors. It’s also called the “midi” bead.
- Perler also carries a Biggie Bead that is double the size. The Biggie Bead is geared for tiny hands and is perfect for preschoolers.
- Finally, T=there is also is a mini Perler Bead. Oh boy, they are tiny. BUT they are perfect for taking larger scale projects and making them smaller.
Perler Beads are made of a food grade plastic called, Low-density Polyethylene, or LDPE.
The beads come in a variety of colors. There are both translucent or opaque Perler Beads. I have some Perler Beads with bits of glitter in them. If you look really hard there are even some beads that glow in the dark or change colors with heat.
Supplies needed for Perler Beads
Perler Beads (duh!) You can buy beads several different ways.
- In bags of individual colors (1,000 or 6,000 per bag)
- In multicolored buckets or starter buckets
- Or you can buy a pre-sorted tray with multiple colors.
- Trial size kit. These small kits give you enough beads just to make the specific pattern.
If you are first starting out on your Perler Bead adventure I recommend buying either a starter bucket or a pre-sorted tray. One of the great things about both of these options is that you get everything you need to begin crafting. If I was to suggest only one, I say buy the a pre-sorted tray kit. You don’t get as many Perler Beads as you would in a bucket, but the fact that they are pre-sorted for you by color is worth it.
I just can’t see a need to buy individual bags of Perler Beads until you are sure this is a hobby you will enjoy. Of course, if you can’t resist those individual bags, black and white are the most used colors that I can’t seem to keep in my stock.
Now, there are other brands out there besides Perler Beads. Artkal Beads, Melty Beads, and Hama Beads to name a few. I use Perler, because that’s what I know, and they are the easiest for me to get.
Use what is easiest for you to get your hands on.
I will advise to stay away from generic beads though, as they won’t melt as consistently. They also aren’t consistent in size. Just not worth the hassle.
I’ll also suggest to not mix bead brands. I’m not saying you can’t mix them, it’s just better if you test them out for yourself before starting a project and being disappointed because the beads didn’t melt well together.
There are only a few other supplies you will need if you bought (or were gifted) just the beads:
- You will need at least one Perler Bead pegboard. These come in different shapes. The most common being a square, so most patterns you find will use a square. There are also large squares that can be put together to make an ever bigger project.
- Perler Bead ironing paper or your everyday parchment paper. Please don’t even think about using wax paper.
- You need an iron to melt the beads. This doesn’t need to be a special iron. It can just your everyday household iron.
That is really it for MUST have items to start. I have to admit though that I wouldn’t bead at all without my Perler Bead tweezers. They make it so much easier.
Perler Bead Patterns
Now that you have the supplies, you are ready to start. You just need to figure out exactly what you are going to make.
When Paige and I first started we just took the pegboards and make whatever we wanted. No pattern at all. They were fun simple creations. She liked to fill a whole board with just a variety of bead colors.
When Wonder Boy started, he was a man on a mission. He started because he wanted to make something specific. Most of his first creations were Super Mario Perler Bead patterns.
I’ve already written up a post on the best places to find Perler Bead patterns. You can give it a read.
If you want to make your own pattern. That’s great too. Just let your imagination be your guide.
There are even apps and websites that will create a Perler Bead pattern from a picture you upload. Although I don’t think I’d recommend those for a novice to Perler Beads.
To sort or not to sort
Now if you’ve gone out and bought a big old bucket of beads, and found the perfect pattern to match the colors of the beads, you are just about ready to go. First you have to decide if you are going to sort your beads by color.
Sorting beads makes the creation process so much quicker and easier. No joke, SO much easier. If the colors aren’t separated, Wonder Boy won’t even bead.. He loses interest in just a few minutes.
Plus there might be colors in your bucket that are similar. You pull one pink out, put it on the pegboard to THEN realize you picked the wrong color pink. It’s frustrating.
The down side of sorting beads is that it’s really not fun. In fact, I find it downright boring. I know some people love to do it though, and they find it relaxing. I am not one of those people.
Even though I truly dislike it, I do recommend sorting your Perler Beads by color, especially if you’re beading with your kids. BUT I’m not saying you should sit down some Friday night with a bucket of 22 THOUSAND beads and sort them into tiny containers. Oh gawd, no. That would be torture.
You have a couple of options to make the sorting less painful. If you only need a few colors. Just pull out enough of those colors for your specific project. Have your child help you. So you both can make it go faster.
The other option, is to sort while your child is beading. If they are making a pokeball, you sit there and pull out the black, white and red beads to give to them. All the other colors you have left in your hand can go in individual containers. This is how I’ve done it for a long time. We mostly buy Perler Beads in the bags, but I do have some remnants of buckets with some cool colors that I find myself sorting when Wonder Boy wants one of those specific colors.
Putting the beads on the Pegboard
NOW you are ready to start creating your project.
All that you really need to do is place your Perler Beads on the pegboard to match your pattern. Super easy, right?
I usually start at the top of the pattern and work my way down so that I don’t have to worry about hitting my hand on the already placed beads and knocking them off the pegboard. Sometimes for small patterns I turn the actual pegboard as I work.
There really isn’t a way you have to do it, just do what feels natural to you.
Ironing your project
There are several schools of thought on how to iron your Perler Beads. Some people like the holes fully closed, some like to only iron one side, and some like to melt both sides. It’s really just a matter of personal preference. You can try different ways with each design that you create.
First and foremost follow the instructions that come with your brand of beads since no two beads are created equally, no two beads will melt exactly the same. One thing that holds true across all brands is do NOT put your iron on the steam setting.
Ironing your Perler Beads can truly be an art form. The type of iron, the color of the beads, the motion you use as you iron, the length of time that you iron, and the amount of pressure you apply all come into play.
The more Perler Bead projects you make the more comfortable you will be with the way you like to melt them.
To iron your beads you need to place the pegboard on flat and heat-safe surface. Set your iron to medium and make sure that the steam setting is shut off. Next place your ironing paper on top of the pegboard.
Once your iron is hot you can begin to iron the beads in a circular motion. I find that Perler Beads take about 15 – 20 seconds to fuse. Everyone’s iron is different though so yours might take a bit longer. I can tell when my project is fused when the ironing paper starts to stick to the beads.
Let the design cool, and then you can remove the paper and beaded masterpiece from the pegboard. Flip the design over, and place the paper on the non-fused side. Repeat the ironing.
All that’s left is to let your project cool. I always ALWAYS place a large and heavy book on my projects while they cool. This helps keep the project flat. If you don’t put a book on top, you may find that your Perler art warps on the edges and aren’t flat. In most cases it’s not a big deal, but if you are making something like this Pokeball Box you want each piece to lay as flat as possible.
If you forget the book and find your beads are warped you can place ironing paper back on the Perler Bead project and heat it up again. THEN place the book on top. It will flatten out while it cools.
Making cool stuff with your finished work
One of my favorite part of Perler Bead creations is taking what I’ve made and turning into something useful. The sky’s the limit. One of the easiest things to do is turn them into magnets or key chains. You can also get creative and make something like my Mickey Mouse bookmarks or even a nightlight.
Many crafts made with Perler Beads need glue to make them. Usually you can use E6000 glue or a hot glue gun. It depends on the project. I almost always use E6000 glue unless I need a quick bond then I use hot glue. I like E6000 because it’s study, waterproof, and a permanent bond. It doesn’t bond right away though, so if you need something that does bond quickly, use hot glue.
Well there you have it! My ultimate beginner’s Perler Bead guide. Go get started on your Perler adventure! If you have any questions or feel like something is lacking in this post please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.