A blog post by Luke Allen, one of our fantastic Project Co-ordinators
About fifteen years ago, I worked as a play leader for a city council. In effect, I was part of a team that had to entertain children between the ages of five and twelve during the summer holidays while their parents had to work. This is a lot harder than it sounds. That was until, one day, after struggling to come up with anything new, our boss arrived with a car boot full of Hama beads. And with that, the children were hooked.
It’s easy to get nostalgic with something like Hama beads. As a child of the late 80’s/early 90’s, I fondly remember my brothers and I spending hours crafting elaborate patterns as our mum and dad waited patiently with the iron to seal it all together but, if that summer as a play leader taught me anything, it’s that their appeal has not waned. Even the toy shops of today still stock them in abundance, only now you have the option to buy them in themed sets: animals, vehicles, even football, the designs and templates are practically there to get you going.
But why is the appeal of these little plastic beads still so prevalent? As cheesy as it sounds, it allows both children and adults alike to indulge in pure creation. It’s the same reason why Lego still remains so insanely popular and why games like Minecraft have become household names. The only thing that limits you is your imagination.
It’s extraordinary how placing beads in a pattern on a tray can get the creative mind working. The house of my childhood was littered with coasters and come Christmas Hama became a prominent tree decoration. But there are those that have taken it further. In February this year, Nete Hangel from Denmark revealed a huge pixel art mural of the original Pokémon that she had been working on while battling chronic pain (see the picture below ):
So next time you’re looking for a new pet project or, should lockdown continue, are wanting something different to try, why not dust off the old Hama beads and get creative. If nothing else, the extremely colourful art form will soak up a few hours of your time. And who knows, you might make a truly great piece of art.