Introduction: Urban Artwork Using Bead Plates

Picture of Urban Artwork Using Bead Plates

Here's an, hopefully inspiring, Instructable on how to beautify your neighborhood. Admittedly this Instructable doesn't really pass the threshold of originality but if I at the end of the day inspired a few people to make their own urban artworks, I'm happy!

Step 1: Tools

Picture of Tools
Not much needed to do this project:

  • Glue
  • Beads
  • Bead plates
  • Iron
  • Tweezers, preferably needle nosed
  • Waxed paper

Step 2: Get Images

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There are lots of sites providing inspiration for this sort of thing. Some of the better ones are Spritestitch: The Shyguy's Kingdom: and The Spriters Resource:

You can also fire up an emulator and just take screenshots of your favorite game.

Step 3: Make a Grid

Picture of Make a Grid

It's not really necessary to make a grid but it helps you to keep track of how many pixels you've done. You can do it the hard way by blowing up the image in Photoshop and manually adding the grid (like we did), or you can just use this nifty program that we found afterwards:

Step 4: Make the Bead Plates

Picture of Make the Bead Plates

Not really rocket science, just put the beads on the plates. Just keep in mind which way you want them to be facing and which side you're putting the glue. The exact color you need probably won't be available so you'll have to experiment to see what looks good.

Step 5: Ironing

Picture of Ironing

Use the wax paper as insulation and heat the beads until they melt together. Make sure that any thin protruding parts gets properly fused or they'll break off.

There is a high likelyhood of the bead plate warping if it gets too hot. I don't have a good way of avoiding this, just try to heat just as long as necessary and not more to avoid that too much heat transfers to the plate.

Step 6: Deploy

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Find some unsavory individuals who don't mind a little law bending and go to work. We as upstanding citizens obviously didn't take part in this activity ;-)

Location is everything. Pick a spot where people have a chance to see your art, but don't make it too obvious. It will be more fun for people if they feel like they've found something (maybe we failed a bit in that aspect). Traffic lights are really good since it's kind of rare for people to actually look up when they're waiting to cross. I'm also still on the fence on whether we put too many of them in the same spot, it would've probably been better if we'd spread them out a bit over town.

The glue suggested that it needed at least 15 degrees Celsius to harden properly so being in Sweden meant that we had to wait until there was a reasonably warm summer night. The pictures really tell the story here, enjoy!


harbison.ed (author)2010-06-29

god i love Bubble Bobble lol

Zerker (author)2010-03-25

I played with these when I was little and made some stuff.
I have these things still so I can still make some sprites or pictures with them.

indohughes (author)2010-03-13

What's a bead plate?

Fylke (author)indohughes2010-03-14

It's a plate with little knobs sticking up for you to place beads on. You can usually buy them at toy- or hobby stores.

EvilDeathBee (author)2010-01-07

I just ordered a tub of beads and some magnetic tape. I'm living on a military base, so I don't want to do permenant damage or anything. This will be a fun project for after work.

I work with plenty of gamers, so I'm sure we can get some pretty obscure characters made.

Fylke (author)EvilDeathBee2010-01-09

Ohh smart! Magnetic tape is great, then you can make them into throwies and put them in "impossible" places and adjust them with a pole or something if they end up crooked!

Zem (author)2009-08-05

What setting is your iron on?

Fylke (author)Zem2009-08-05

We had it on the lowest setting, but that might not be the best alternative since the bead plate became warped pretty quickly. So you might want to experiment using a higher setting.

Zem (author)Fylke2009-08-05

Alright, thanks!

JakkRabbit (author)Zem2009-08-24

another good tip is to keep the iron in constant motion to keep the heat more even. also maby more layers of waxed paper could help?

bruisylawless (author)2009-08-11

The main brand is called Perler. There is a Perler bead website where you can order specific colors.

JasonMaggini (author)2009-08-08

Just don't put 'em up in Boston.

itsachen (author)JasonMaggini2009-08-08

loll I was just about to say

Moonkyst (author)2009-08-08

I've always found these beads in the kids craft area at WalMart or at craft stores. I have a big bucket left over from when my son was little. Now I can put them to some use! I also wanted to mention that they also have glow in the dark beads.

Zem (author)2009-08-05

Could you use magnets on the back? They could be like Throwies, except they couldn't easily be thrown on the side of a building...

Fylke (author)Zem2009-08-05

Yeah sure, but then you probably should choose a motive that you won't mind ending up upside down when you throw it.

Ian01 (author)Fylke2009-08-08

You could just put it up with a pole or something.

thecheatscalc (author)Fylke2009-08-05

Actually, if you only put the magnets at the very top, it'll self right itself, as it should be heavy enough.

Zem (author)Fylke2009-08-05

You could use them for shapes instead of characters.

Ward_Nox (author)2009-08-03

might want to seal the front to keep it together one good rain storm and its gone

Fylke (author)Ward_Nox2009-08-04

It's industrial strength glue. Those plates won't come off for a good while... =)

Ward_Nox (author)Fylke2009-08-07

OH my bad i was thinking you used aquadots PIXOS for some reason

craig3 (author)Ward_Nox2009-08-03

their melted together so they don't dissolve in any water, their plastic

Cristian1337 (author)craig32009-08-04

He meant the glue...I think. Bead art usually has alot of holes so a quick rain can easily wash the glue and make the piece fall of.

But, there is no glue. They are melted together with heat. There is nothing that can dissolve, so you're all safe!

craig3 (author)johanronstrom2009-08-05

maybe the glue keeping it on the wall, not the pearlers themselves

johanronstrom (author)craig32009-08-05

Of course! Didn't even think of that! :-D

Darmani (author)2009-08-04

Thanks for the answear, i found the beads, it took some time but finally i found them, now ive just got to save some money to buy them.

Darmani (author)2009-08-04

Hi, i really liked your instructable, i want to make some bead art but im in mexico and i dont know wich brand or kind of beads youre using because the only beads i know dont melt with the heat of an iron. Can you tell me the brand and where you got yours?

Fylke (author)Darmani2009-08-04

Hmm, not sure what to say, they're just generic plastic beads really. They're cylindrical, around half a centimeter high and made of softish plastic (you can bite down on it and it will be flat).

According to Wikipedia they're called fusible beads:


Ninzerbean (author)2009-08-04

Urban art is something I have wanted to get into but I fear the video cameras that apparently are everywhere. You did a great job here - I hope they stay for a long time.

johanronstrom (author)2009-08-04

Nice! In my town (Visby, Sweden) someone has cemented 8-bit motifs in ceramic tiles to buildings :-)

I have an instructable on making grid patterns in Photoshop that was featured a while ago:

Ministryofhate (author)2009-08-03

there should be more bubble bobble instructables Nice work!

whiteman1746 (author)2009-08-03

I would really like to do something like this. However, I would like mine to be a super large scale version in black &white.; Do they even make grey scale plastic beads?

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