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So I build pixel-esque bead arts for people for gifts and such. But when I need to send them places, they sometimes fall apart.

Pixel Art

Charizard Pixel Bead Art

(Example above is not my work. Belongs to another artist.) It is just a referential image.

And I am just wondering how to strengthen the bonds between the beads to make them more durable without changing how it looks since it is meant as an image.

Would really appreciate some help.

  • This is a good example of what you do though? Melted bead art? Is it possible it is that you are not sufficiently melting it or perhaps as issue that allows it to bend while it is shipping? – Matt Sep 24 '16 at 14:23
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    Does it need to be reversible? As in, both sides clean and visible. – user24 Sep 24 '16 at 18:01
  • After looking into the processes of melted bead art I would like to hear how you do it as there are multiple approaches and preferences that come into play. Some people melt both sides for instance. – Matt Sep 24 '16 at 18:13
  • It does indeed need to be reversible. Some people that get this stuff from me want reversible pieces. My process is with an iron and paper ironing sheet. I do fuse both sides. – ArkaiTheWolf03 Oct 17 '16 at 18:53
  • did you ever get an answer for this as in a product to use? i do very large HAMA projects myself usually at about 50x50 cm at least and it gets a bit nerve wracking when moving about to the frames etc, would like a way of strengthening ones that are not framed before posting, maybe like a lacquer spray? – danny Sep 26 '19 at 12:50
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I was looking into the type of plastic these are (LPTE?) and found a comparison of different fuse beads:

http://houseofgeekiness.blogspot.com/p/not-all-beads-are-created-equal-when-it.html

This guide casually mentions one technique, also mentioned by Matt in comments: fuse both sides.

The other major factor here is trying out a different brand. The guide recommends Perler, or generally away from the overly cheap beads. Not all plastic is created equally.

If you can try out other brands, that's what I would test first. It's something artists tend to do with supplies, anyway. Different brands give different feels or effects, and some just stink.

Another tactic is to make sure you're melting consistently. If you use a plastic ironing sheet, instead of a paper one, you can eyeball the level of melt in any given section of the piece.

If you don't need both sides of the image to be on display, then I would simply adhere something stiff to the back. It might be possible to use thin, clear plastic sheets, if you can find an adhesive that works and dries clear / without streaks. If so, that would let you add external strength while still viewing both sides.

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    The one thing I would add to this that is not enough for its own answer is that you can melt (at least one side) more than the other. Idea being you can get a stronger bond by melting for longer. Your holes would be smaller or disappear. This effect can also be desired in some cases. Ironing process affects this. – Matt Sep 30 '16 at 3:59
  • @Matt Yes, and if the edges melt too much and make a ridge, a craft knife could fix that – user24 Sep 30 '16 at 5:13
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Two things I can think of:

Make sure the design is not fragile. The dragon of your example looks strong enough, but if you create a deer with thin legs, for example, I think it's more likely to break. Especially if you'd attach a large flower to one of the legs, so there is a thin connection between two heavier parts.

Also, be aware that letters and parcels are not being treated carefully during transport, so make sure you protect your art when you mail it. Do you put it between two pieces of strong cardboard, with some plastic wrap around it, for instance?

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  • I often follow legitimate sprite art pieces due to customer request. Often they are Pokémon sprites used in their respective games. As for shipping, while I don't do those ideas suggested, I reinforce the corners and angles with dowels to keep from being smashed, then inline the box with two layers of bubble wrap, then wrap the piece of work gift tissue paper. Then fill the box with packing pellets. – ArkaiTheWolf03 Oct 17 '16 at 19:06
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With your particular project, heating time might be adjusted to a longer heat time (slowly testing) for better viscious welding of the individual pieces.

As with many materials, tempering is the answer. Steel, Brass, Glass, and many plastics.

Heating to a non-melting temperature, then slowly cooling over a long period of time. It is a "recipe" different for each material. One reason blacksmiths were said to have knowledge of the Black Arts

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What about using a clear lacquer or resin? If they have a solid layer over them it would make them stronger, I'm guessing they break between the beads when they do get broken. It will add some expense but you could use a caulking gun & silicone to make your moulds if you wanted to pour acrylic over them.

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Two methods:

  1. Easy, just pour liquid super glue (not the gel-ish but the fully liquid one, like water consistency) all over the art after you've completed it. It's plastic so I'm hoping it will be reversible if you'd try to detach them.
  2. A little too over the top, but what you can do is before starting the melting process, just after you're done sorting them according to colors and setting them, make a little hole in them horizontally (like the one that already exists, but from the other side) and then passing a thread through all of them in the exact order, like you would do for a garland. And then tie the thread at the end. This way they'll all be connected after and before melting them (and for the reversible - just cut the thread and they'll easily fall apart) (I personally did this with a bracelet i once made for my girlfriend).
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    You're thinking in the right direction with the super glue idea, but super glue isn't the best material. It's brittle and doesn't have any strength in the direction that would be helpful for this. But some other clear glues that are of the type that form a strong film would work. Even PVA glue (Elmers or "school glue") or Weldbond Universal Adhesive (clear and stays clear) would add strength as you suggest. Hot melt glue could also be good on the back (go over it with a heat gun at a lower setting to melt it to a thin consistency so it flows and flattens out). Keep those ideas coming! – fixer1234 Oct 10 '19 at 15:05

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