In this third installment of Perlers For Beginners, I will cover ironing your perlers. If you’re starting here, be sure to check out Part 1: Materials and Part 2: Setting Up Your Art where I cover what you’ll need and how to create your pieces.
Set Up Your Ironing Space
A. Media. You’ll need something to listen to or half-watch while you iron. It’s a slow, boring process.
B. Fabric. Use a spare T-Shirt or a thicker scrap of fabric. Fabric is breathable and allows would-be trapped air in the perlers to escape. Tape it down. You don’t want it moving on you.
Parchment or Wax paper. This goes on top of the perler when you iron so you don’t get melted plastic on your iron.
C. Iron. The expense of the iron doesn’t matter too much, but be aware of your iron’s hot spots. Some parts of the flat side can be hotter than others, and you’ll need to hone your skills using those spots to get an even melt.
D. Heavy Books. A large stack for pressing after ironing.
E. Trash Bag. All that tape has to go somewhere.
Tweezers. Helps remove the the tape at the end.
You can iron your pieces after you create them. However, if you’re making large batches of perlers, say for a craft fair, I like to store them in closed containers and iron them all at once.
Check Your Work
When we last left off, we taped our art with wide making tape and poked holes. Before you start, check your work! Hold it up to a light and scan all of your rows.
Any unpoked holes will trap air within the beads and create holes in your art.
Also, now’s your last chance to adjust any beads that may be out of place with your loom hook.
On top of the fabric, lay your art and cover it with a clean sheet of parchment (or wax) paper. Use your iron on a low-medium setting and do slow circles around your art with a little pressure. Pay attention to your edges to make sure they fuse. Don’t press too hard, or you’ll over melt your edges.
If your parchment paper gets crinkly or gets any creases, grab a new sheet. It’s possible to transfer those patterns onto the surface of your art. This is also true for lifting the parchment and putting it back down. The surface texture may change.
Removing the Paper
Slide your art with the parchment paper still on it to a spot on the fabric that isn’t as warm and let it sit for a minute or so. Melted perlers will stick to the paper if it’s too warm.
Once it cools a little, peel the paper back like you’re pulling up painters tape. Pull it back, not straight up.
Once you peel the paper off, place it under a stack of heavy books. This will keep your art from warping as it cools. Do not remove your art from under the books until it is completely cooled.
Remove the Tape
Once cooled, remove the tape. If your perler is over melted in spots, you may have bits of tape stuck in the melted perlers. Use your tweezers to pick them out.
This method creates a flat surface on one side and an even perler look on the other. If you prefer both sides flat, iron the second side after it cools to prevent over-melting.
Stay tuned for Part 4: Troubleshooting and Part 5: Selling Your Work.