Ironing plastic

H for Hannah

I’m not one to iron if I don’t have to. The children’s school uniforms are never sullied by steam. It’s as much as I can do to get them out of the house without breakfast all down them, and since I just slob around the house no-one cares what I look like.

Cue – the arrival of one of Hannah’s birthday presents.
How cute, I think, and I smile with gratitude for the giver when I see how long these beads keep her happy and engaged with making patterns on a small white square of plastic with spikes sticking up out of it.

Not so cute and not such a wide smile when she presents me with her first completed design and says,

“It needs ironing Mummy.”
“What? It’s plastic,” I say, “it’ll melt.”

But that, apparently, is the idea.

They’re called Hama beads, you make your design on a white plastic square whose spikes hold the beads in place, then you “get a grown-up” (ie me) to place a sheet of greaseproof paper over the top of them and iron them.

There are even different temperatures you’re supposed to use for different sized beads.

Are the ones that Hannah has small, medium or large?
Who knows. I use the highest temperature and go for it, thinking hotter will at least be quicker.

The first time I try it, steam pours out of the holes in the bottom of the iron. The greaseproof paper, beads and worksurface are swimming in water.

I look at the controls to see how to turn off the steam function, but these days my eyes are starting to focus better on the middle distance than close up, so I can’t read the instructions.

I open the lid and pour out the water into a bowl and try again.

Da daa, no water means no steam. My Chemistry O Level has stood me in good stead.

I iron and iron, and iron and iron, and the little beads splay out into fat, blobby doughnut shapes. This is the effect I’m after, and it does work, eventually.

I burn my fingers trying to get the melded beads off the plastic holder, then I’m advised by the instructions that “it works best if you leave it to cool under a book”.

So I put it onto the work surface and bung a teapot on top.

Hey Presto, five minutes later a happy daughter who’s displaying her artwork to her brother (grunt) and her father (lovely darling).

Another ten minutes and she’s done another bloody design.

I’ve started leaving the iron out, on the worktop, ready for its next excursion. I even left it on overnight: by mistake, not so I could get up and iron small plastic beads in the early hours.

And now her brother has got in on the act, saying,

“If you want to cuddle my guinea pigs, you’ve got to let me have a go too.”

Ben in beads

Perhaps I should impose some conditions on my ironing time.

I’ll only iron these beads if you promise to –

a) go to bed without a fuss
b) brush your hair without being asked
c) leave hair in nit-preventing scraped back style all day and not take out the pony tail at break time
d) (and most importantly) promise to make no more than one of these things per day

About Beta Mum

Here you can find the ramblings of a trapeze artist turned journalist who ran away from the circus to join the BBC. Cathy "mine's a Kir Royale" Keir then spent thirteen years working in Jersey, Guernsey and Devon, before downgrading to what you see before you. She has contributed articles to The Guardian, The Stage and Television Today, Junior Magazine and both the BBC and Bad Mothers Club websites. She has two children who think women can’t be prime ministers. She blames herself.
This entry was posted in Beta Mum's Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Ironing plastic

  1. My condolences! Ever since Playdough I have sneakily been secreting just this sort of gift into the darker recesses around the home. My deviousness will undoubtedly come back to haunt me.


  2. dulwichmum says:

    Ah, the joys of Hama Beads! My minimalist home is now strewn with Hama Bead artwork, a sea monkey tank, ant and worm farms and pots of sunflower seedlings! Whatever would the interior designer have to say about it?



Leave a Reply