Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Perler Beads/Enamel Dots - Jumped On The Bandwagon

I figured I might as well try making my own 'enamel' dots as it wasn't a huge investment.  I bought the big 11,000 tub as well as a smaller bag of either 1,000 or 2,000 that had an assortment of glittered translucent ones.  I tested out the small batch first and learned that what everyone had been saying was very true.  Different colors melt at different times.  The translucent ones also take much much longer.  The clear took the longest but as I did a bunch from almost all of the colors in the package, I had to leave them all in.  I started at 285 and it took them nearly an hour to finish because of the bump that was still left in the clear ones.  Because of the significant difference, I tackled my opaque beads a bit differently.  Over the course of several days, whenever I had a few minutes, I would sort colors into a bead organizer that I had laying around unused.  I bagged up all of the pinks, purples, and translucent ones as I didn't see myself using those right away in addition to the fact that there are only 17 slots in the container I used to sort them and way more colors than that.  After everything was sorted, I decided to cut my beads in half as I had done that with my first batch and liked the overall size.  I probably did more than I had to with the cutting, but I felt this got me the most uniform shape...not the most uniform size, but the shape was more important to me.  I cut them with a pill cutting box first.  This cut about halfway through as the blade isn't quite long enough and then I went back with my cutter bee scissors and finished the job.  I found that using just my scissors resulted in an oval shape and was worried that it wouldn't melt properly.

 I placed all of sliced beads onto  a silicone mat on top of a cookie sheet.  This particular one is something my Mother In Law gave me and it is save in the oven (Tupperware's site specifically states NOT to put these into a toaster oven) up to about 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  I set my oven to 300 degrees to help speed up the process from the first go.  This batch is my third batch from the opaque beads.  The yellow I used were PERFECT at 30 minutes, the light green took 33, and these took 34, but I think part of the reason for the extra time in this batch was that I kept opening the oven to take pictures during the process.  The great thing about the silicone mat is that it's a bit sticky, so these stand up really well and stay put for the most part.  The downside is that I have to use my Silhouette scraper tool to get them to come off after they are cooked and it requires a bit of force to remove them.  The beads themselves tend to hang onto a bit of static from the mat, as well.  I'm not sure if this happens with any other cooking surface as I haven't tried any.  I hear the Tim Holtz mat and parchment (not wax) paper also works and they don't have the sticking problem.

 Here is what they look like about 11 minutes in.  You can tell they are softer, with the harsh edges from my cutting completely gone.
 This about 20 minutes in and the hold is almost completely closed up.
 Here they are at the 30  minute mark and they still have dimples that are easily noticeable.
Here is the final result at 34 minutes.  Again, I don't think they would have taken as long if I hadn't been opening the oven door every 10 minutes or so, but even then, it isn't nearly as long as the time it took for me to cook my first batch of translucent beads.

I hope this is helpful and shows you what to expect during the cooking process if you choose to tackle this.  I will eventually be cooking full sized beads to see the difference in size (these come out to be the middle size of MME's dots, but some people are getting their cut in half beads to be closer in size to the smaller ones from MME) and to have a variety.  If I am not happy with the sizing options, there is a store on etsy I'm considering purchasing what they call 'mini hama beads' from.  These are supposed to be about a quarter of the size of these and actually fit inside the holes of these ones.  nicolejones911 on youtube has purchased some, so I may wait and see what her results are before making the investment.  A packages of 7500 assorted beads runs about $13 US including shipping.  The store is overseas so I figure it will take a few weeks to get to anyone North American buyers, so hopefully by the time she tests out the mini's, I'll finally have cooked off all 12,000 or 13,000 of mine. ;)

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!


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