Friday, November 21, 2014

Perler Bead Portrait

My advanced art students and I have been talking about creating perler bead portraits. It's taken a while to gather the supplies and figure out the process, but after today, I am SOLD!!

My students haven't started the project, and since I like to know what we are getting into before the students start, I went ahead and created my first perler portrait. I chose this sweet picture of Kylie.

I first had to edit the picture in photoshop. I removed the background, really bumped up the contrast, changed the color mixing and a removed some of the different color tones so that the picture would work as a pattern.

Then I started the pattern process. I tried a dozen different things to make this a pixelled grid piece. Lots and lots of suggestions and processes on google. Then I found I was PUMPED!! This was exactly what I needed!

No further edits were needed and it was easy.

I uploaded my edited photo and it made the grid for me!! WOOHOO!

However, a note for the user... you can print the gridded picture and you can save the snapshot grid, but you can't save the gridded picture. At least I couldn't. When I opened the saved file, it was just the blank grid. But that was okay as I had the project printed.

Another super cool thing about the website is that you can change the color of beads if you don't have all the colors. My portriat here has at least a dozen different color beads... but it is a big piece coming in at 11x14 and 4000 beads!

So here is the project in process.

project grid with plastic plate

get little cups to keep beads in!

lots and lots of beads. don't bump the table!

a few days of on and off again work.

almost complete
When the piece is finished, you use the ironing paper that is provided with the plate. When ironing a piece this size, be CAREFUL and TAKE IT SLOW!

I didn't take it slow enough and had to do a number of repairs mid iron.

fixing the beads that popped out of place while fusing

to repair, pull the paper back and carefully lift the beads back into place.

more ironing. 4000 beads take a while to fuse

The biggest challenge was that as the beads fuse, they pull off the board and leave the nonfused beads left on the pegs. Then the beads don't line up.

After I had gone over the piece a number of times, I got a piece of masonite and flipped the piece over, making sure to sandwich the beads tightly.

Then I took the plastic board away. Here is a close up of what some of the issues were. I carefully flipped the piece back over on the masonite and finished working on it without the peg board.

As I repaired, I  made sure to really, really heat those beads up! You can see that in some areas, the beads fused to little squares instead of circles. Those beads aren't going anywhere!

As the piece cools, the sides curl in. I had to turn mine over and let it cool while I flipped it back and forth to keep it from curling too much.

The completed piece.

Kylie. A perler bead portrait by Emily McLemore

Need a guide for your phone? Here you go!Click Here!

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