Friday, September 4, 2015

Make: 3D Perler pianos

It's Teachers' Day today! The boys don't have many teachers, since we homeschool, and Junior J only gets music and swim lessons, and no other classes. As we will be stopping his piano classes very soon (after he finishes this term), we wanted to make something special for his piano teacher, both as a farewell present for his teacher, as well as to stay "Thank You!" on Teacher's Day. I had a chat with the little boy, and he said he wanted to make a piano out of Perler beads for his teacher, so we went hunting for a template on Google. We chanced across this video tutorial on how to make a 3D piano (Youtube is pretty amazing that way!), and Junior J instantly decided that he wanted to make that for his teacher, even though I told him it would take some time to make all the layers.

So he took two days, and painstakingly pieced all the beads together into the layers while watching the video. I helped to iron the beads together, and we glued the pieces together. I had to take over for the legs of both the piano and the chair, since they were so tiny!

He made a card to go along with the piano, and gave it to his teacher yesterday. She loved it, and Junior J was really pleased!

Anyway, some tips to share if you plan to try to make a Perler piano:
1. Try to iron each layer for the same amount of time, so that you don't have some layers becoming flatter and larger than the rest. Don't over-iron until the holes in the beads disappear.

2. Once you've ironed the layers, place them under a pile of books while they are still hot for an hour or so, to ensure the layers are flat. Ironing sometimes causes the layers to bend, which would make it hard for you to glue them together later.

3. We modified the legs and used 4 fused beads for each layer of the piano legs. The actual tutorial called for you to glue only one bead per layer, which was really difficult, since these were non-melted and really tiny. I was also worried that the legs might snap. Wider legs gave the piano more stability. One of the back legs dropped off during the packing process, but the piano was fine on three legs. For the stool, we used 2 fused beads for each layer, again for the same reasons.

4. We used PVA glue to glue the layers together, as many of the quick drying craft glues have fumes. PVA glue works, but it takes ages to dry, so you must factor in at least 12 hours of drying time. You'll have to work slowly, and the layers will tend to slip and slide since the glue is wet. Just place each layer carefully on top of each other, adjust them so they align, and resist the temptation to keep twiddling with the legs! It's best to let the piano and the stool dry upside down, with the legs up.

Have fun if you try this project, and here's wishing all educators a Happy Teachers' Day!

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