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Melted Pyssla Bowl

June 18, 2012

IKEA is a wonderful source for DIY materials… it is full of cheap house implements that may be re-purposed / decorated / modded with ease. In my last IKEA trip, beside some furniture for my home, I found a product intended for kids, bu really enjoyable for crafters of all ages: the PYSSLA beads. What are these beads used for? Normally, to be arranged on small peg boards forming a design and then melted using a clothes iron, obtaining a decorative object. Searching on the internet, it is easy to find wonderful 8-bit art, computer icons and video games characters made using these beads. Depending on the nation and the brand producing them, they are also called Perler or Hama beads.

After using the beads to craft some space invaders aliens (almost mandatory, for a crafter geek), I tried to think of other possible uses. One idea I got was to use them to make a bowl, usable as a pocket-emptier, to hold keys, coins and other small stuff. To obtain a curved shape, I had them melt inside a metal bowl in the oven. The inspiration came from seeing on the web bowls made by melting plastic toy soldiers (an example here). Impressive and pretty symbolic, however, a little impractical due to the extremely uneven inside.I imagined using the Pyssla beads, I would obtain a more colorful and usable object.

As mold, I used another IKEA product, a stainless steel bowl. They come in many different sizes, and are very durable and easy to wash. Their mirror-finish in the inside helps obtaining an even surface when melting.

To start, put a couple handful of beads in the metal bowl (I removed mos of black and white beads to obtain more colorful objects). Then, push and move the beads until you obtain a single layer of beads covering the bottom part of the bowl, raising up to the sides. The beads may have any orientation, when they melt, they will change shape randomly. Do not even try arranging the brads in an explicit pattern: it takes ages… I tried, and one hour later I realized I had covered less than 1/4 of the needed surface, and the arrangement was terrible because there was nothing to hold the beads in place, making the design ugly and, anyway, it will probably come out distorted, since the melting speed of the beads is a bit random.

When preparing the beads for melting, always remember that the level you reach on the sides will decrease due to melting, so keep the level a bit higher than your goal

 

Carefully place the metal bowl in the oven, after it has been heated-up. I’ve set the oven at 180° C, and reached the sweet spot after 8-10 minutes. Do not, for any reason, leave the oven unattended, unless you enjoy plastic aftertaste in all your future meals (or even turning the oven into a fireplace). After 5-7 minutes, you should see the beads start loosing their shape and flow down. After a couple of minutes or so, they will have melted enough to be permanently interlocked. Leaving them more time inside, they will start to burn and turn black (and smell terribly).

Remove the metal bowl from the oven (with a glove) and let the thing rest a couple of minutes. Then, put it under the water; the perfectly formed plastic bowl will detach completely and easily from the metal bowl. Let it dry. Enjoy.

I did a couple of tries, and obtained good results, the melting process does not leave unpleasant smell in the oven, nor in the finished bowl. The random color and micro-structure of the bowl looks really nice…

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From → Materials, Project

3 Comments
  1. can i heat it in the microwave instead of the oven?

    • I am not 100% sure, but I don’t think so… There is no water to be heated in the beads (or metal to be excited). The way they are supposed to be melted is with an iron; so, direct heat. If you put them in the microwave, I believe they will not heat up; and if you use a metal bowl, you risk damaging the microwave.

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