The lovely little enamel dots are on everyone’s cards these days and not only are they hard to come by, they can be quite pricey. I ran across a YouTube video about creating your own and found several more videos about the same thing, so I had to give it a try. Unlike a lot of DIY things on YouTube, I’m pleased to say that this one worked perfectly.
I went to Michael’s and got some of the Perler Beads. You know, the ones you iron together to make different shapes? These guys:
Ah, now you remember :-) Anyway, apparently you can melt these in the oven to make your own enamel dots for pennies. Pennies! Less than pennies, even.This box of beads at Michael’s was $10.99 and I had a coupon for 50% off, making it $5.50. There are 4000 beads in the box, so if you do the math that comes to .00137375 cents per bead. That’s CHEAP, people! Plus the electricity to operate the oven, of course, but my oven needs to have the cobwebs knocked out of it once in a while anyway.
So, here’s what you do. Preheat your oven to 350o F, line a cookie sheet with a craft mat or good quality parchment paper. I used a craft mat and it worked beautifully. Do NOT use aluminum foil or wax paper, the beads will stick and you’ll have a big mess.
Stand your beads on end, leaving a bit of room between them, like this:
Pop them in the oven and about 25-30 minutes later you will have these fabulous babies:
They are exactly like the pricey fancy-schmancy enamel dots that sell for $3.99 and up. Minus the adhesive, of course. I found that a mini glue dot is the perfect size to adhere them to your project, though, so that’s not a big deal. You could use Glossy Accents or some other liquid adhesive, but glue dots are so much easier for me. I’m glue challenged.
Here is one of them compared to store bought enamel dots. One of mine on the left, store bought on the right:
Pretty close to the same color, size, and shape, wouldn’t you say? Now, the only downside to this is that you are limited to the colors of the Perler Beads, but they come in quite a variety of colors. They didn’t have a large selection at Michael’s, but Wal Mart carries them (I’m not going in there!) and I’m sure at a Toys R Us you could find the entire selection. Who needs 4000 Perler Beads - or the larger packages of 10,000+?? Well, if you melt them all I’m sure Duke Energy will give you some sort of high energy usage award, but you could share with a friend - or friends - and split the cost. They are made by EK Success and here is a link to their collection - Perler Beads. I think I’m going to try the striped ones next. They had those at Michael’s.
The only other thing is that they will all be pretty close to the same size, too. In one of the videos I watched, she had cut them in half with scissors to make smaller dots, but I haven’t tried that yet.
For larger dots, you can use pony beads. They are larger beads and will produce a larger dot, of course. I found this picture on Joann.com - these aren’t the ones I bought, but I would love to find these. Love the colors!
So, I bought a package at the Dollar Tree, just to try them out. They worked out pretty well, but I think the better quality beads would work better. I baked these at 400o F for about 5 minutes. They melted pretty quickly.
The colors weren’t all that great, but hey - they were $1, what do you expect? Some of them got a little wonky and I really think it was the quality of the beads. I will try to find some better ones soon and give it another try.
All in all, this experiment was a huge success and I will be on the lookout for more colors and sizes of beads to use. One word of warning, the Perler Beads didn’t really have an offensive, plastic-y odor, but the odor form the pony beads was a bit stronger. I have an electric oven which is fairly accurate temperature-wise, so you will have to experiment and find a time and temperature combination that works for you. I highly suggest keeping a close eye on them the first few times. They could be a fire hazard if left too long. If the odor bothers you, open the windows and turn on the fan, just to be safe.
Do watch the video and the several others that will be in the right sidebar on YouTube. They are very informative and have some good suggestions.
I also found these at the Dollar Tree. No such thing as too much washi tape:
While I am on my budget conscious binge, sequins are another craft item that has come back around and is also a bit pricey. $2.99 for a package of one color? I think not. Check out the bead section at your local Michael’s or Joann’s and you will find these, or something similar for much less.
I know, they’re not separated by color and may not have ALL of the colors in the more expensive packages, but I’d be willing to bet that they are pretty close. There are a lot of varieties available, you just have to step out of the stamping and scrapbooking section of the store and look in the sewing or beading department. Just trying to help you stay on track with your crafty budget :-)
My work here is done, I must go melt some more beads.