These fun little craft beads allow kids of all ages to create interesting pixilated images by arranging an assortment of colors on a peg board and melting them with an ordinary household iron. Boards of different shapes provide the base for lots of unique creations, and coming up with new patterns and playing with piles of tiny little plastic tubes can really ignite the beading spark in new crafters.
Today, I want to show you some truly incredible Perler bead creations by RAWRmonster. The artist, Shelby, turns these simple little beads into some of our favorite characters from the world of 16 bits. Her magnets, coasters and jewelry can really bring out the kid in you!
Inspirational Beading: How did you first get into bead crafts?
Shelby: Last year, I switched my major to Mathematics and in the process made a lot of new friends. Being a typical broke college student, I had NO idea what I was going to get everyone for Christmas gifts. I had an Etsy account, and was poking around looking for ideas and potential gifts, when I first saw coasters by iamadecoy, and I fell in love! I bought my first set of Perler beads off of eBay, and got to work.
Pixelgasm-forum.com. I read everything I could, and learned from some of the best.
Inspirational Beading: Do you remember your first project?
Shelby: Oh boy... yes, I remember my first project.
Like I said, I was making Christmas gifts for maybe 15-18 people, so I needed a game plan. The first thing I did was to make a sheet with 8 different 'sets' on it, featuring Space Invaders, Pacman, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Tetris. I told people to pick a set, and tell me if they wanted coasters or magnets. Each set had about 4-8 sprites on it; 'ambitious' is definitely an overstatement!
Before I could make everyone's gifts, though, I needed to make a few practice runs. I beaded two little aliens from Space Invaders in glow-in-the-dark beads with green backgrounds. I didn't have any ironing paper, but I had just bought a pack of stickers, and they come on non-stick paper, so that should work...right? No. Not by a long shot.
I felt a little discouraged, but more determined than ever to master these beads. So, I made the three magnets you see at the top of the picture (from left to right: Boo with a glow-in-the-dark outline, Blooper, and Bob-bomb). I only had maybe 4 pegboards, so I would work in batches; I'd lay down a sprite, iron it, let it cool while I laid down another sprite, iron the back of the first sprite, iron the front of the second sprite, and so forth. It was a very long month. However, I managed to get presents done for everyone at school before the semester let out for winter break, and finished presents for everyone else in the following week.
I hadn't really thought of selling anything I made until one of my friends asked if they could buy some magnets from me, and it took off from there.
Inspirational Beading: Where do you like to look for new inspiration?
grimmlynn saw my early mustache magnets and messaged me excitedly about making a rainbow necklace. I love doing custom work, and I love hearing back from people who share their fond video game memories with me.
Besides that, my inspiration comes from my own childhood. I once left my NES on for 8 months as a kid so I could beat Super Mario Bros. 3 from start to finish. I have more items from that game in my shop because it had the biggest impact on my life growing up.
I think people have had a very negative stereotypical view of video games and gamers for a long time, but it's slowly starting to change. I think it has a lot to do with the how quickly smart phones are becoming a part of our culture, since playing [games like] Brick Breaker is now a totally acceptable usage of time. People are embracing their inner geek, and it's awesome.
Inspirational Beading: Do you have a favorite color to work with?
Shelby: It's difficult to say. I try to make my items as true to the game as possible, which restricts my color usage, and I try to make my background colors compliment the sprites. I love bright, funky colors though. I always enjoy making things with Lime, Turquoise, Purple, Hot Pink, and anything that glows in the dark!
Inspirational Beading: What’s your favorite thing about working with Perler beads?
Shelby: I've only been working with Perler beads for about a year now, so it's been really cool to watch my technique improve with time. If you were to go back and look at some of my very first pieces, they weren't so great. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure out the little things that make all the difference: finding what's the best temperature to set the iron, how long to iron for, how to keep the different colors melting at the same rate, and how to lay down the sprite as quickly as possible.
Besides that, my favorite thing is always hearing back from people. Seeing people's reactions as they look at my stuff - there is this gleeful excitement, almost like they're eight years old again and unwrapping a new game. I also secretly love the idea that there are people out there in the world, people I don't know, who have my coasters on their table, or my magnets on their refrigerator, or my necklace around their neck. It's like there are these little pieces of me floating around out there. In a metaphysical way, not in a creepy gross zombie way, of course.
Inspirational Beading: Who do you hope to inspire with your work?
Shelby: I don't know if I'd say my work is inspirational. I'm just a college kid trying to share her love of video games with the world. But maybe that's the inspirational part? It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what talents you think you have or don't have. Just do what you love, and love what you do, and be awesome.
Copyright 2011 Inspirational Beading and RAWRmonster
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