No doubt by now you have seen the latest craze with kids. Fuse beads. What are they? How do they work? And for the life of me, why are they so popular? Well, I cannot answer all of those questions, but I can, as always, share my opinion with you! Now, the fuse beads are a craft where the beads are “melted” together. Generally, the kids use heat to melt the beads together. I believe typically an iron is required. Now, for me personally, I have never understood why anyone found these to be enjoyable or creative. Perhaps, I am extremely biased as I am an artist. I wish to create unique individual items and not use cookie cutters. I also do not understand the aspect of an item that looks, to me at least, to be pixelated. However, I am an adult, an old fuddey-duddey, if you will. I cannot think like a child, but I do listen to mine. And my daughter was fascinated with the idea of these kits! Please keep this in mind and know my review may be a bit biased as I am already predisposed to find this concept a bit uncreative.
As you can see in the image above, Kira was proud and excited when Zirrly’s Super Beads Jungle Animals kit arrived. Kira could not wait to open the box and begin! As we are amidst her final exams, however, she had to wait!
As an artist, I have always enjoyed crafting with Kira. Some of my fondest memories are the times that we have sat at our dining room table creating together. Whether it be intricate paintings for the holidays or simple coloring of coloring books, nothing can compare to our special bonding time. I knew this set would provide such an opportunity. As Kira is a teenager now, we have less time to enjoy such moments. Within as much, I actually was looking forward to the adventure, despite my opinion on the beads themselves.
We first laid out the contents of the box, then Kira began reading the instructions. I have found this to be a wonderful teaching lesson. I wanted to see just how well Kira could follow instructions. The box contained an assortment of colored beads, a plastic tool, a small squirt bottle, a supply of boards, several cardboard designs, and a plastic organizer for the beads. At first glance, it looks and sounds simple enough in theory.
Kira chose the Owl to design. As I wanted to create with Kira, I chose the Zebra. First you are to place your design on the back of the board. It is pretty simple as everything lines up, and it is a bit obvious as the cardboard will only fit one way between the tabs.
This is where it all went down hill. Because of the way the boards were taped together within the package, they were warped. They refused to sit flat or level on the table, even without the cardboard designs inserted.
As my loud mouth stated, I hoped it would not be a problem. Unfortunately, it was quite a problem indeed. Next you are to place the beads according to the color on the cardboard image under the board. Simple enough, right? The instructions state to have the lined portion of the bead face up. Okay, I am old. I have visionary issues. I also have neuropathy. Holding these teeny tiny beads and trying to decipher which way was up because a grueling task. My reader glasses were no help. I had to break out my OttLite magnifier that I use when I am painting fine details on statues or mini canvases! With the OttLite, my reader glasses and every light on, as well as all the blinds open, we suddenly could see the “line”. My daughter could not see them at first either!
Look closely, see the lines? It became extremely frustrating trying to grasp these tiny beads and figure out which side was up and place it in the proper spot. Add to this frustration the beads would pop off and go flying because the board was not level. .
By the third bead flying away, I was done. I could not take the pain these beads were causing my eyes and hands one moment more. I instead sat and watched Kira as she worked on hers.
Kira kept sighing. It seemed she was not enjoying the beads either. Kira was frustrated with trying to see the lines on the beads and trying to hold them. It would have been wonderful had the kit come with a set of plastic tweezers, perhaps. We lost several beads that popped off. All I could do was pray that none of our pets find and eat them. Kira, too, had problems with the beads popping off of her board. With all this, she still kept trying. At one point she came over to me, showed me her hands, and said, “I guess this is why they iterate about washing your hands in the instructions.”
The orange, the yellow, and the brown beads all left their color everywhere that they touched. In hind sight, perhaps placing the beads together when we packed the kit up, after we were done with it, in a single ziplock bag, may have been a mistake. I fear those colors may bleed on to the other leftover colors.
Kira diligently completed her owl. I must admit, it looked really cute once the beads were all in place on the board.
I asked Kira if she would finish my zebra for me; she kindly accepted and did the zebra too. It was next time for the fusing! Now, unlike the other melding beads, Zirrly does not require an iron. Instead, you merely spritz it with water, using the spray bottle included within the Super Beads Jungle Animals kit!
Kira followed the instructions to the letter and sprayed each project.
Next was the waiting. Kira was NOT happy about this. I was a bit surprised, as normally Kira is the most patient child I have ever met. I can only imagine how the wait time might bother an even younger, less patient youngster. Nonetheless, Kira agreed to wait the instructed amount of time, which was at least an hour.
This ran into dinner time. So we actually were forced to wait even longer than that! Sadly, the additional time did not serve as means to reinforce the beads whatsoever. It was too late once dinner was over, so we continued the next day. It started off pretty well as Kira began using the tool to lift her owl. Sadly, however, that did not last. Beads started to separate and fly away. Per instructions, Kira replaced the beads in the appropriate positions, sprayed again and waited the instructed time….yet again.
The second time was the charm! Once enough time had passed, Kira was able to successfully (minus two beads that popped off) pry each animal up.
I would not recommend this to anyone who has a child that is extremely impatient. Unless, of course, you are trying to find a way to teach them patience. Then, this is a PERFECT idea for you. I also do not recommend this to anyone with visionary issues or problems with holding tiny objects for prolonged periods of time.
For anyone who has used melding beads before and did not like the fact an iron was needed, perhaps this may be a viable alternative. I have never tried the other types though, so I cannot adequately compare.
All that being said, I must admit, this was a wonderful way to teach adhering to directions. Even though Kira did follow the instructions perfectly, problems arose. It served as a valuable lesson. We enjoyed our time together despite the many mishaps and downfalls. The end result was quite cute, I must admit. I can imagine children coming up with their own creative designs, and that I believe would be a wonderful way to foster their imaginations. Perhaps a cute heart for Mother’s day or a Bunny for Easter! I have to admit, the Zirrly 3D kit looks interesting too! For now, we still have the kit. It seems like a great rainy day project.
Kira has been trying to make her own special Zirrly animal now. It seems she absolutely loves the kit. We are going to be looking for more for her to try.
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