Friday, April 10, 2020

Hama Bead Rainbow

As I write this, we're nearly three weeks into the coronavirus lockdown. Within a week of being told to stay at home to stop the spread of the illness, I heard about children all over the world painting rainbows to display in their windows to lift people's spirits and to spread a little bit of joy and hope. I love this idea, as what could be more joyful than a big beautiful rainbow, helping isolated families connect with the outside world?

It's rare for us all to craft together as a family, but when time is no longer at a premium, making a colourful, Hama bead rainbow together is the perfect calming, mindfulness activity that acts as a distraction from all the uncertainty everybody is facing at the moment.

My daughter and I love Hama beads, so I have managed to build up quite a large collection over the years.  (If there's any time that I'm thankful for my many crafting hobbies and crafting supplies, it's now!)

The main reason I have so many Hama beads is that they were a very popular creative activity at my daughter's Minecraft themed birthday parties.  There is something very joyful about these tiny little pieces of colourful melty plastic that make them the perfect relaxing family activity in these times too.

Making a Hama Bead Rainbow to hang in the window.

Materials needed

I used the Procreate app to draw a simple rainbow sitting on clouds.  I then put this image through the PhotoPearls app to convert it to a Hama bead graph.

This was my first time using PhotoPearls and I was initially a little disappointed that the biggest image it would allow me to make was only three large Hama bead boards across.  However, having made it, it turned out to be a good-sized project that the three of us could all enjoy creating together, and see it finished in a couple of hours.  I love the dithering I got from using the Photopearls app. This allowed us to use a wider range of colours so that we didn't run out of one particular colour.

To make it a little easier to see, I added a graph overlay to the PhotoPearls image.

There are many different types of fuse beads available.  In the UK, Hama beads seem to be the most popular, while in the US, Perler beads seem to be more prominent.  There are also Artkal beads as well as Pyssla from Ikea and other generic brands.  Thankfully, all of these beads are the same size and can be used together to give a much wider colour palette.  As we're in lockdown, I'm only using the Hama beads that I have in the house.   

When I held the Minecraft birthday parties I bought 6 transparent beading boards from Flying Tiger, which are bigger and a lot more affordable than the Hama ones.  Also, being transparent you can place your image underneath and work straight from that.  If you use a different brand of clear beading board you will need to rearrange the printouts to fit.

Cut out the 6 sections of rainbow. (Unfortunately my printer cartridge ran out mid-print and so indigo came out as grey.)

Use double-sided sticky tape to attach the bead patterns to the backs of the transparent pegboards.

Then spend a happy hour or so placing fuse beads onto your pegboards.

We didn’t stick rigidly to the designated colours on the print outs, using 2 or 3 bead colours for each colour of the rainbow.  As it was a family project, our daughter took the lead with the colour choices and we followed.  One of her favourite facts is that a rainbow is made up of an infinite spectrum of colours rather than just 7, (she loves to tell people that Sir Isaac Newton dictated the colours, purely because 7 was his favourite number) so she didn’t want to do obvious stripes of colour.

I store my Hama bead collection in these little boxes.  When there are a few of you working with them, they are the perfect size to store individual colours, but also pass around for a group project.  It worked really well, letting our daughter take the lead as it meant that we were all working at different stages and so on our own individual boxes.

You can read more about my Hama bead storage here.

Once all of the beads are in place, melt the beads together following the instructions.

If I’m making a large piece that spans across more than one board, I like to iron each board separately and remove the sections from the board when I know that the beads are bonded together, rather than iron the whole thing as one big piece and risk missing beads.

To bond the sections of the rainbow together, place the individual pieces back onto the pegboard so that two corresponding edges meet in the centre of the board.  Press them down firmly so that the bead holes click back onto the pegs.  The edges may have lifted slightly, but this curl will disappear when the sections are fused together.

Place the ironing paper back over the pieces and iron the join until you can see that the beads have fused together.  Repeat until you’ve joined all of the rainbow pieces together in this way.

Then stand back and admire your joyful rainbow!

If you’re going to hang it in the window, you need to reinforce it to prevent it sagging.  You could iron the top side to stiffen it up, but I much prefer the look of the unfused top.

I found a hollow brass rod to attach to the back of my rainbow, but lollipop sticks or plant sticks would work just as well.  I initially attached the rod with hot glue, but apparently hot glue and a south facing window on a sunny day don’t mix!  Within an hour the rod had fallen off and the hot glue was a melty stringy mess.  I reattached my rod with two-part epoxy glue and it’s holding up well a week later.

Thread a knotted loop of clear nylon fishing line through two holes on either side of the top of the rainbow...

... and hang it in the window.

I’m so looking forward to the day when we can go for a stroll in our neighbourhood and count all the rainbows hanging in the windows.

If you liked this post please take a look at -

How to convert a photo to create a Hama bead portrait

Ideas for a Minecraft Party

Hama Bead Storage Idea

Hama Bead Christmas Wreath Card


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