We've had some Hama beads in the house for a while now but it's only in the last few weeks that I've discovered the addictive fun and endless creative possibilities they offer. I'm addicted. Hama beads, for those who haven't heard of them, are small plastic beads which you place on a board covered in tiny pegs then, once you've created your pattern or image, you use heat to fuse the beads together by placing a piece of greaseproof paper between the beads and a hot iron. I think other brands are available - I believe Perler beads are similar, and I've heard of aqua beads which I'm told work the same way but with water.
It all started when, a few weeks ago, Bella decided to make a small mat with her beads using different colours in a concentric squares pattern.
She was really proud of it and it sits on the windowsill in her bedroom, underneath a pot containing a plant she brought back from some Rainbows activity.
We have no idea what kind of plant it is. She planted a bulb.
So far, there's not a lot going on! It will be a surprise to see what it grows into.
Up until that point I'd been pretty indifferent to the beads, but there was something granny-square-ish about that mat. And then, when she made this smaller mat, I thought "Coasters!" And since then I've spent a lot time this week playing with Hama beads.
This is a pleasing activity because I can do something very indulgent, just for me, while feeling virtuous. I can tell myself that I'm being a good parent while the children join in the crafting activity with me. It's win-win.
And so I started to play around with colour and pattern and, without really intending to, I seem to have created four crochet-inspired coasters. Rainbow stripes, granny square patchwork, a ripple pattern and one large granny square. The patchwork one is my favourite.
They make good coasters as they withstand heat and can be wiped clean. We are a messy household and my crocheted yarn coasters got absolutely ruined with tea stains.
Now, while Bella was happy to help me with these, Angus was soon bored. Until I went onto Pinterest and looked for Star Wars designs...then he was very keen indeed.*
Wow, there is a lot of Star Wars-related fun to be had with Hama beads! I may have opened a can of worms there. (Angus's creation is larger than a coaster, measuring 13 x 13 cm. My coasters measure 9.5 x 9.5 cm.) Also, if you search for "Hama Bead Coasters" in Pinterest you'll find so many fun and inspiring ideas. I like the retro, pixelated quality they give, like old computer games. Also there is something about them that reminds me of cross-stitch, with the rows and the counting. We have plans for more, something less girly - a skull would be fun, or a lightening bolt. Or a really overly-pixelated old fashioned rose design, the sort you'd see on an embroidered table cloth. See, I told you it was inspiring! Enjoy your weekends everyone - I'm off to play with my Hama beads...
* I looked at about six identical Darth Vader images on Pinterest and based my creation on the ones I saw, changing details and adding a red background.