Haven’t you heard? 8-bit is the new black. We’ve had it up to here with advanced super high-density displays: we want to be able to see our pixels again!
“Pixel” jewellery and accessories are the latest essential for any geek – but they’re remarkably easy to make yourself, and a lot of fun too. I’m here to show you how, in this week’s MakeUseOf DIY project.
This project is perfect to do with kids, though obviously you’ll want to handle the ironing part. They probably won’t understand any of the early videogame references of course, so I’ve listed a number of sites where you’ll find loads of extra designs – Disney movie characters, cute animals, etc. Don’t feel like this is limited to video games and internet memes.
Step 1: You Will Need
- Hama / Perler Bead Starter Kit ($40) – this one contains 12,000 sorted beads, pegboards, and tweezers.
- Baking sheet
- Plain hair bands or hair clips
To make a pendant, you’ll also need
- Suede thong cord
- Small and large jump rings – plain silver, or various colours.
- Cord ends
- Toggle clasps
- Needle nose pliers
Alternatively, you can buy ready-made pendant cords for less than a dollar each, but you’ll still need some jump rings and pliers to attach the design.
Step 2: Find a Design
Pinterest is also great to see what others have done with fused beads, though you’ll need to infer the design from angled photos sometimes.
Pixel Stickers has a limited range of high quality designs in their gallery – they sell a similar product, in the form of stickers that you can affix to your wall rather than gluing beads together – an alternative you might want to consider, though considerably more expensive. The designs are equally applicable to Hama beads, obviously.
Of course, Etsy is also a great source of inspiration. PuffyTheSlayer appears to be one of the most prolific bead/pixel designers there, and has loads of original and cute designs well worth checking out.
Finally, don’t forget you can also go in search of geeky cross-stitch patterns, though the scale of these is generally a little larger so the designs are more suited to 3D wall murals than jewellery and accessories.
Step 3:Build Design on Pegboard
Using the tweezers, copy the design onto the pegboard. Since most designs have an outline, you’ll probably find you run out of black or white beads fairly soon – additional packs of individual colours can be bought cheaply.
If you’ve purchased the same starter set that I did, the two square boards can be clipped together to make larger designs. Most small designs can be made in less than half an hour once you get a rhythm going.
Step 4: Fuse the Beads
When the design is complete, lay a sheet of baking paper over the top – you can re-use old sheets quite a few times. Gently run the iron over it, being careful to move around at all times and not linger on one particular spot. Try to get even coverage, and don’t push down unless you want your item to be flat. When you’re done, place something flat and heavy on top for about 10 minutes while it cools.
When you remove it from the pegboard, the opposite side will still look like beads – feel free to iron it again if you want both sides flat and fused.
Step 5: Making a Pendant
Start by attaching a large jump ring to the top of the design – don’t worry if the holes have fully fused together as you should be able to poke it through anyway. Thread the cord through the jump ring.
Next, cut the cord to the length required and attach “cord ends”. Twist the cord while pushing it in if it seems too thick. Crimp these with the pliers when you’re done, and attach a small jump ring to each. This is a really fiddly step, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. Next attach a male and female clasp, then close the rings.
Step 6: Other Accessories
Your design is also easy to attach to a hair clip or hair band using some strong contact adhesive (not superglue). If you’re making a hair band, you’ll want to remove the design from the pegboard while it’s still warm and flexible – you needn’t glue it to a head band yet, but do bend it around and let it cool into the correct shape.
If jewellery and accessories isn’t your thing, you can also make some great coasters, fridge magnets or wall art. What will you make?