Nerdom Hobbies

I’m deviating from the writing topic this time. I intended to post my other projectREUTSway entry that didn’t make it into the final cut, but I feel I should space it out form my last one. Just to torture you guys. For now I’ll just tease you: it’s a Beauty and the Beast Japanese cross-over. A young Ronin adheres to both roles as Gaston and the Beast in a Jekyl and Hyde shape-shifter. I promise, you’ll be able to read it soon!

In the meantime, I wanted to get your opinions on something. I have a hobby that I started in January, as a way to de-frag my brain after a full day of work and writing. It’s called perlering. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably been exposed to a few pieces that I’ve worked on.

IMG_0777Perlers are little round beads that slide onto a peg-board and are then melted down with an iron to create one cohesive plastic image. I first saw these at a local anime convention. My jaw dropped at the sheer magnitude of images that can be created from these little beads – game sprites and 8-bit lovelies tickled my nerdliest fantasies. I bought a Kirby perler and told myself “one of these days, I’m going to do this.”

Fast forward to a year and a half later. Part of my movement to get away from computer screens and gaming consoles, I finally bought a starter set of beads, pegboards, and an iron (I don’t iron clothes – no judging!). I started simply with a small batch of pokemon sprites. Perlering is EASY if you copy patterns off the internet. Seriously. Four black, two yellow, three red, two yellow, one black – it’s as easy as counting and naming colors.

The hardest part is perfecting your ironing style. It sucks – black melts faster than other colors, heat zones on the iron will press the middle flat while you’re working on an edge – getting a perler image to melt evenly without ironing lines or the parchment paper pulling up and making the perler pieces jump out of their places is a real hassle. Then there’s a quick freak out of peeling the newly melted piece off the pegboard without burning your fingers and putting something heavy on it fast enough so it doesn’t curl up on you. Oh, yeah, and the part where you burn yourself with the iron on occasion. Yes, much practice is required. (I feel I need a Doge here – much practice, so perler, very hassle.)

IMG_2917After doing a few small pieces, I jumped into an 18” perler image of Bundt from Mario RPG. It looks great on the pegboard, but when I ironed it… well, let’s just say I learned a few lessons. There’s no such thing as melting two pieces and then melting them together. And if a perler piece falls out of the image, there’s no putting it back in once the surrounding pieces are melted, or you’ll ruin it. None of the perler sites and blogs I read mentioned these things. I learned them all the hard way. So, yeah, perlering is not as easy as it looks.

However, with Bundt, I couldn’t find a pre-existing image pattern on the internet. Instead, I took the sprite into photoshop and blew it up, then manually with a paint brush, colored each pixel on the grid to so I brought 56 shades of colors (I’m guessing here) to 12 (also guessing here, but you get my point). Then, once I got it all layed out, I still had to maneuver perler pieces around to make shading areas look more fluid or even out lines and such. I found all these step to be quite rewarding, so it sucked hardcore when I botched the final melting.

IMG_2953Anyway. I went back to practicing on smaller pieces, like this pair of Mario and Peach. That’s when I started to notice something. I really liked this pattern for Peach that I found, but the more I filled in her dress and her hair, the more I hated the color options that were shown with it. The lines inside the dress were brown, and her dress was a different style than the “iconic” Peach dress. So I changed a lot of the coloring, including her hair, eyes, and lip color. I really liked my version way better than the original. And even though I spent way more time on it than I originally planned, and it was a pain to keep moving perlers around, I really enjoyed executing my new vision. Mine is the top image.

Now, I’m at the point where I’d like to open an Etsy shop. I back-burnered the idea since I started perlering. Here’s the dilemma: Most of what’s out there for character sprites has been done and is available on Etsy already, except big and complicated pieces like Bundt.  Even then, I couldn’t justify sinking money into big, complicated pieces that would go for $50 or more. Those kinds of pieces are better off made-to-order.

IMG_2995Then, last week, I had a random conversation with my BFF Michelle (@Mah_Hoehn) about Chai tea. She said “often times when I drink Chai tea, I always think of Chaiaiaia. Like Psyduck, only he’s Chaiduck.” Brilliant. I already did a character alteration with Peach, how hard could it be to add a scarf, glasses, and cup to Psyduck? For her birthday this past weekend, I assembled a Psyduck and made him into a hipster with a steaming cup of Chai tea in his hand. From the original pattern, I adjusted colors and shading, opting for the hard, black outlines, and then I had to completely reposition one of his hands so he could be grabbing onto the cup. It was pretty fricken hard, but I enjoyed it.

I’ve decided that my Etsy shop calling, to be unique and different, is to do alterations to pre-existing characters. I started my line of hipster pokemon with Chaiduck and added Pikachu with an iPod (suggestions for a name?). This hipster pokemon will further expand once I decide on the next pokemon to transform.

On Facebook, another friend suggested that I go steampunk, so now I have a steampunk Bulbasaur on the perler board, just waiting on the metallic perlers I ordered. I also have an idea planned out of Plusle and Minun cosplaying as doctors 10 and 11 that I can’t wait to try. Also, Harry Potter pokemon, like Pyroar wearing a witch hat and Gryffindor scarf or the Hogwarts crest with pokemon.

What kind of character combinations do you think would be fun to see? It doesn’t have to be a pokemon mashup, but could be My Little Pony, or Doctor Who, or anything else. Tweet at me (@Fifi_The_Ninja) or leave me a comment here.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Nerdom Hobbies

  1. I have seen pics of your work on Twitter and think they are so cool! My kids are Pokemon fans … therefore making me one. What about adding Star Trek shirts to them, or Star Wars light sabers? Vader/Picachu? I love the HP idea and, well, Dr Who is always fabulous!
    I loved reading your ProjectReutsway story and can’t wait for the next one!
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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