Product Type: Hama Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... children, if only because the boxes are very big and impressive. When my son first started using Hama Maxi Beads, it was one of these se... more
Beading Fun For All Ages
Hama Beads 10,000 Beads in a Bucket
Member Name: sandemp
Hama Beads 10,000 Beads in a Bucket
Advantages: Range of sizes, Lots of colours and boards, Creative Fun, Developmental benefits
Disadvantages: The mini beads a little too fiddly, Can get everywhere
Available in three sizes, a multitude of colours and variety of kits, Hama Beads are a fantastic craft material that allow you or your child to create all manner of different decorations, ornaments and other artistic pieces. My first introduction to Hama Beads was many, many years ago when my then five year old daughter brought home a coaster she had made at school, and since then I've experienced using all three sizes of bead, both with my son and by myself to create my own masterpieces and gifts. In the very simplest terms, Hama Beads are hollow tubes of plastic that can be placed on the pegs on a specially designed board in any pattern you desire and then fused together using an iron (over ironing paper) to create a permanent masterpiece. The plastic the beads are formed from is non-toxic, meaning that if they should happen to be swallowed they won't cause any harm (and in fact the larger pieces pass through virtually untouched, even though I wouldn't recommend using them afterwards). In more complex terms, Hama Beads are a tool that can help you child create works of art while improving their hand-eye coordination, copying skills and concentration, all the while growing with the child as they move from the largest beads to the very smallest.
==The Creative Toddler - Maxi Beads==
The Maxi Beads are the largest and are officially recommended for children over the age of three. With each bead having a diameter of 10mm (1cm) they are the perfect size for younger children to handle and manipulate. My own son is only two and a half, has significant learning difficulties and has been using the beads with help and supervision since his second birthday. It's been lovely watching him improve his pincer grip and coordination as he has steadily learnt to produce some masterpieces that have been given as birthday gifts to many relatives. What is really good about this size of bead is that it is easy to sort the beads into colours and they are big enough not to get lost into the pattern of a carpet or rug when dropped on the floor.
The Maxi Beads themselves are available in either tubs hold 500 beads in a variety of colours or as kits, and should you buy the tubs of beads you will also need some pegboards and ironing paper (the paper can be replaced with greaseproof paper). Unlike the smaller Hama Beads there isn't a huge variety of colours available in the Hama Beads, neither is there a huge variety of pegboards or kits, but the range is slowly increasing. There are also a few inspiration books available that contain designs that you child can copy and then adapt.
When starting out buying Hama Maxi Beads for your child, I would recommend buying a kit to start with as this will contain everything your child needs to begin creating their masterpieces. There are various size kits available, with the larger kits representing the best value for money, but even the smallest kits will contain a pegboard, more than enough beads to fill it, ironing paper and maybe peg-stands (to allow the finished items to stand unaided). The smallest, Starter sets are priced around the £6 mark and contain approximately 250 beads, along with a pegboard, making them an ideal small gift and way of discovering whether your child actually enjoys using the beads. What I really like is that while many crafts are thought to be "girl" specific with these Maxi Beads there are sets that are designed to appeal to boys with such themes as dinosaurs. The larger, Giant Gift Sets, offer far value for money, containing 900 beads and up to three pegboards for around the £15 mark. These sets make great presents for younger children, if only because the boxes are very big and impressive. When my son first started using Hama Maxi Beads, it was one of these sets we bought and he had great fun making the different models, so much fun in fact that we soon supplemented the set with a starter pack (dinosaur) and tubs of beads. If I were to have a complaint about the Maxi Beads, it would be that the different colours are not available separately and to replenish the beads in the kits you need to buy several different tubs of beads (which at £6.75 a tub can become expensive).
==For Grown Ups Too - The Mini Beads==
The very smallest of the Hama Beads are the Mini Beads and these are designed for children over the age of ten and adults. These tiny beads are only 2.5mm in diameter and can be used to create smaller or highly detailed designs. As with the Maxi Beads they are available in kits and mixed bags of beads, but unlike the Maxi Beads they are also available in single colours, costing around £1.25 for 2000 beads. While the Maxi Beads offer large gifts sets, the Mini Bead kits are far smaller, however they do still contain everything you need to produce a few pieces. There are also pegboards available for the Mini Beads, although there are nowhere nearly as many varieties as with the other size beads, but there again specific shaped boards really aren't needed with these tiny beads as you can make some very detailed designs using just the basic boards. As with the Maxi Beads there also Inspiration books available, to help give you ideas on what to make.
I have to admit that I have only used the Mini Beads the once and found them far too fiddly and frustrating. The beads themselves are tiny and the pegs on the boards are a little too small meaning that the slightest knock will send the beads flying. Because the beads are so tiny it is not only difficult to manipulate them, but it is also difficult to sort them into their various colours. I did persevere with the small starter set that I had bought and ended up producing some very pretty card toppers, but haven't bothered buying any more as I wasn't particularly enjoying using them. What I did like about these beads though was that peg boards could be clicked together to form larger boards for bigger designs.
==And Everyone In-between - The Midi Beads==
By far the most common of the Hama Beads are the Midi Beads, it is in this size you will find the greatest choice in colour, pegboard, Inspiration Book and Kit. With a diameter of 5mm the Midi Beads are recommended for children aged 5 and over, although suitability will of course depend on the particular child, with some under that age being able to use them and some over that age finding them too small. As the most common Hama Bead Format there are a vast number of different colours of Hama Beads available to buy, whether that be in mixed tubs, separate colours or in kit form.
As with both the Maxi and Mini beads the best way to decide whether Midi beads are for you or your child is to buy a kit. The range of kits available is simply enormous, ranging from £2.50 for a small pegboard and 450 beads to £43.95 for 20 pegboards and 210000 beads, with everything in-between. What is really good about the Hama Midi range is that as well as basic kits, there are a multitude of themed kits available covering everything from Disney Princesses to UFOs. Once you've decided that Hama Beads are for you, it is far more economical to replace the beads with either mixed tubs or bags of single colours. There is a huge range of different colour beads available to buy separately, with the majority of them costing around £1.50 for 1000. There are other specialist colours such as metallic and glow in the dark that are more expensive though, with these costing around £2.50 per thousand. There are also a large number of pegboards available, many of which are in specific shapes such as a squirrel, mouse or child, but others in basic geometric shapes. What I find especially useful is that the basic large square and rectangle boards can be clipped together to create larger work spaces. There also yet more Inspiration Books available that are specific to the Midi Beads.
It is with the Midi beads that I have the most personal experience as I use them to make various gifts, decorations and ornaments ranging from fridge magnets to Christmas decorations to large pictures that I frame as gifts. I love that there is such a large choice of different colour beads available, and that there are so many different ways to find patterns to copy and develop. There are lots of websites that have patterns for Midi Beads, although some of these will state they are for Perler or Fused beads, rather than Hama. There are the Inspiration Books, or if you open a picture in Paint and then zoom with guidelines, you can you that. There are computer programs that will transform a picture into a pattern, or you could use a cross stitch design, there are even Apps for the iPhone and Android.
I have to admit that I do tend to buy my beads from one particular online retailer, but if I see them in a good offer anywhere else then I will pick them up. I also tend to buy a mix of separate coloured beads, kits and mixed tubs, mostly buying the more unusual colours separately, or if I know I'm going to use a lot of a particular colour (or colours) I will buy bags of them. Although it's not really the cheapest way of buying the beads, I do like to buy kits sometimes, simply for the added inspiration. With the kits and mixed tubs of beads, I find it best to sort the beads into their different colours before I begin, although that may just be me being a bit anal, I find it easier to create when I don't have to hunt for a particular colour.
As I've said, I've used the Midi beads to create all manner of different things. Some of my smaller projects include fridge magnets and coasters, which are easy to make, require little concentration and can be produced from the basic colours. The translucent and glitter beads come into their own when making sun catchers, and the clear beads are great for adding stability to snowflakes. While I enjoy making the smaller pieces it when I use the beads for larger creations that I get the most satisfaction and sense of pride. By joining large squares together I really am limited only by the number of squares and amount of working space available. Among my larger projects is a name plate for my son's room and several large Christmas wall decorations. But pride of place has to go to the portrait of my son that I created on four large square pegboards. This project took me a little after four hours, but the resulting picture is fantastic (if I do say so myself) and a perfect present for a doting Grandma.
For me, personally, the Midi Beads are the perfect size to handle, I find the Mini far too fiddly, while with the Maxi it is impossible to create any detail. But those with a little more dexterity may get on better with the Mini Beads. I also find it easier to pick up the Midi Beads off the floor if they spill than the Mini, although inevitably some will be missed. I also love the vast range of colours, pegboards, kits and designs available for the Midi Beads, there's always something new to try. In fact as these beads can also be threaded in the same way as regular beads, this is something that is in my to-do list. I also find creating designs with these beads therapeutic, there really is a sense of pride that develops as the final design starts to take shape, although it can be frustrating to discover that you made a mistake or accidentally knock the board.
==Finishing Off - Making A Design Last Forever (Well Almost)==
With all three sizes of beads you can just remove the beads from the board if you wish to use again another day, but it's far more satisfying to fuse them together to create a permanent work of art. The three sizes are fused together in exactly the same way, that is by placing a piece of ironing paper over them and then ironing them until they melt slightly and fuse together. What temperature your iron needs to be set at does depend on the size of the beads, with the Mini beads needing the iron set at two dots, the Maxi at three and the Midi at somewhere in-between. I do find that what temperature the iron needs to be set at for the Midi Beads does depend greatly on the size of the project, with smaller items only needing two dots and larger needing three. While it isn't actually necessary to use official Hama ironing paper, I find that it is slightly superior to using greaseproof paper as it doesn't stick to the beads quite so much. In any case, the best ironing technique is to move the iron in small circles until you see the beads showing through the paper and you can normally tell that the beads have fused together. After ironing I always place a heavy object of the design and paper to help keep it flat while cooling. While you could just iron the one side, I find that you get much more robust result if you wait until the design has cooled, remove it from the pegboard and then iron the other side (with ironing paper over the top), before once more weighting it down to cool.
Once the designs have cooled down there are various things you can do to display them. If you left a one bead gap at the top of the design you can add string or ribbon to hang them at a window to display. Or you can buy small self-adhesive magnets to attach to create fridge magnets. You can also create coasters and then back them with cork, or simply attach them to the wall with sticky tabs. With large designs though it is best to back them in some way to help keep them flat and give a little extra support. While in no way indestructible, with a little care your designs can last years.
While not for everyone, Hama Beads come in a range of sizes that provide a creative outlet for a wide age range. My two and a half year old son loves creating masterpieces with his Hama Maxi Beads and gets very excited when I get his pegboards and tin of beads out, while I really enjoy creating my own pieces with the Midi Beads. All of the different size beads are fantastic for developing dexterity, hand-eye coordination, concentration and patience, while allowing you or your child to produce something tangible at the end of the session. Personally I can't recommend Hama Beads enough for anyone over the age of two who is looking for a new creative outlet and so I am giving them five stars out of five.
Summary: A range of crafting beads that allow you or you child to create all sorts of decorations
More reviews in the field of Art / Craft
- ELC Make Your Own Christmas Tree
- ELC Make Your Own Christmas Hand Puppets
- ELC Make Your Own Christmas Crackers
- ELC Left Handed Toddler Scissors
- ELC Make Your Own Cards
- Sizzix Texture Boutique Embossing Machine
- Docrafts Me To You Winter Wonderland Clear Stamps
- Docrafts Me To You Flutterby Coloured Stickers
- Tsukineko Stazon Ink Pad
- Canal Toys Hello Kitty Cupcakes Dough Set