How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Tips, tricks and methods for crafting bead sprites.

How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby SerenaAzureth on Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:52 pm

I've meant to put this tutorial here for a while so it could be found easily by all. :smile: So here is my advice to "Flat-iron" sprites:

First off, the basis for my ironing technique comes from Doc's tutorial on how to iron sprites/ how to iron crazy giant sprites. With that in mind here are my added thoughts:

1.) Know your iron. Every iron is different and you just have to figure out from practice where the sweet spot is on your iron for melting, how hot you need to crank your iron to melt beads, and how much pressure you can apply with "said" iron to flatten beads. All of that you can only learn from experience with your iron. When I first attempted to flat iron my sprites, I melted a ton of boards, and over burnt a ton of sprites (aka "shiny" or "bubbly" sprites) just because I had to figure out what worked for me.

2.) First, gently iron the front side of the sprite just long enough to get it to stick together and to the paper. Then, lift the sprite from the pegboard and onto a completely flat surface that can take a lot of heat. I've learned the hard way that varnished tables are a "no-no" just because the sprites get so hot it makes the varnish peel and bubble. Once your sprite is on a flat surface, I go to town ironing the sprite, using a decent amount of pressure (but not to much to warp the sprite) and in a circular motion to distribute the heat across the sprite evenly. When working on big sprites, I section this technique off doing part off it at a time. Once again, the amount of pressure you apply to the sprite can only be gauged by knowing what iron you use is capable of. My favorite iron takes a mid-range of pressure being pressed down into the sprite to make it iron flat, while one of the other irons I use I barely have to apply any pressure and it melts the crap out of a sprite.

3.) After pressure ironing the front side, I place a ton of books on top of the sprite to let it cool down. After giving it between 15-30 minutes (depending on how big the sprites was I was working on) I peel the paper away to check for any little holes that remain. I've gotten to the point with my small sprites and medium sprites that the first round of flat ironing usually gets it all, but for my bigger ones, if any little holes remain, I use the tip of my iron and gently rub over the hole through the paper again and that usually closes it up.

4.) after I am satisfied with how the front side of the sprite looks, I flip it over and once again go to town ironing the back side. This helps me in two ways. First, it makes the sprite super flat (like drink-coaster flat) since I personally glue solid sheet magnets to the back of my sprites and that is easier to do when the back side has really no holes as well; and second, if the top side had any little "divot" left from holes that closed, but puckered slightly so you can kinda tell there was a hole there, this helps melt it out since heat+gravity=good. :wink:

5.) I have a super special technique that happens along side "Step 4" if you want your sprite to have a "Shiny-Glossy" coat to it. This looks really good in my opinion when you have a sprite that is suppose to be metal. I've used this technique on my GIR, Master Chief, and B-bomb fridge magnet sprites. You can see it a little in my pictures of them, but it is a little hard to capture on camera. To be able to do this technique, you need to know exactly how long it takes your iron to burn a sprite (to the point where it bubbles the bead plastic and looks awful) and you need a glass surface. When you place the sprite face-down on the glass, and go to town ironing the back, you literally iron the sprite to the point where you almost burn it. That amount of heat and pressure, with the sprite pressed against the glass, forces the sprite to adapt a glossy coating much like the glass itself. I say you need to know how long it takes your iron to burn a sprite, because it is that point to "almost" push your sprite to do to get the glossy coating since you have to stop ironing right before that point. Afterwards, you leave the sprite on the glass and place a ton of books on top of it. You'll know when your sprite is ready to pull off the glass when the glass itself is cool to the touch, if you pull the sprite of the glass before that point, you risk stretching the sprite since it kinda adheres to the glass.

6.) My last step is cutting away a layer of clear beads I place around the edge of sprites I want to have "sharp square" edges. Without the layer of clear beads, the edges of the sprite are always round, and are at risk to distort. I use a pair of sharp scissors to do it since I always seem to cut myself pretty good when I use an exacto knife on plastic. As I like to tell people, This part really isn't a skill at all, it's just anal retentiveness. LOL :laugh:


So, that's my whole "Flat-ironing" technique! I hope it makes sense to you (since reading over it myself certain parts look a bit confusing but I don't know any way else of explaining it! :laugh: :laugh: ) Have fun!
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby VorpalDormouse on Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:18 pm

FINALLY :laugh:
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Shelly on Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:21 am

Well written and many fine advices - but :-)

My method making glossy, shining surfaces is using teflonsheet (hope it is the correct word for it) instead of paper.
You can try it on a little piece.
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby VorpalDormouse on Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:11 am

How do you deal with bad beads that pucker up after ironing? I tried to cut mine out and replace them, but that didn't work out too well.
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby margretjohnson on Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:16 am

Thank you for that. : ) I actually have never "flat" ironed any sprites because I was taught not to when I was younger : ) but I'm gonna try that on my next little sprite : )
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby sillypieman on Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:17 am

When you iron the second side, do you put more wax paper on top of it, or do you just iron it directly?

Also, do you have any tips for preventing the wax paper from sticking? One one side of my first one the wax paper was stuck and left pieces on it.
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby RAWRmonster on Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:29 am

1) Yes, always put paper over what you're going to iron, or the beads will stick to the iron.

2) Never ever use wax paper. Get some parchment paper form the grocery store (the stuff you bake cookies on).
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby TheRonin on Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:57 pm

RAWRmonster wrote:1) Yes, always put paper over what you're going to iron, or the beads will stick to the iron.

2) Never ever use wax paper. Get some parchment paper form the grocery store (the stuff you bake cookies on).

This and this
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Meis on Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:54 pm

Been looking into flat ironing and I notice a lot of my beads are opening rather then closing in a lot of areas. It is rather annoying. Generaly I am using the masking tape method btw. :paranoid:
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby TheRonin on Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:16 am

Meis wrote:Been looking into flat ironing and I notice a lot of my beads are opening rather then closing in a lot of areas. It is rather annoying. Generaly I am using the masking tape method btw. :paranoid:

Do a light fuse on the beads then pull the tape off. Your tape is creating an airtight seal on the backside causing the air in the center of the bead to heat, expand and blow out the hole.
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Doctor Octoroc on Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:30 am

TheRonin wrote:
Meis wrote:Been looking into flat ironing and I notice a lot of my beads are opening rather then closing in a lot of areas. It is rather annoying. Generaly I am using the masking tape method btw. :paranoid:

Do a light fuse on the beads then pull the tape off. Your tape is creating an airtight seal on the backside causing the air in the center of the bead to heat, expand and blow out the hole.

Physics is fun! But no, I love that I've learned so much about physics from a hobby like bead spriting. It makes it that much more rewarding to be good at it, like it's not just an art form but a science as well.
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Meis on Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:20 am

Doctor Octoroc wrote:
TheRonin wrote:
Meis wrote:Been looking into flat ironing and I notice a lot of my beads are opening rather then closing in a lot of areas. It is rather annoying. Generaly I am using the masking tape method btw. :paranoid:

Do a light fuse on the beads then pull the tape off. Your tape is creating an airtight seal on the backside causing the air in the center of the bead to heat, expand and blow out the hole.

Physics is fun! But no, I love that I've learned so much about physics from a hobby like bead spriting. It makes it that much more rewarding to be good at it, like it's not just an art form but a science as well.

Made 8 articunos- 3 articunos in I tried this and ta-da it worked. But I am still having trouble evenly melting them all out flat on the outside edges. Then I notice it gets to melted and the colors start to meld together. beadfusion ha
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby TheRonin on Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:24 am

Don't move your iron around. Pick a spot and press down hard. Lift and move to another spot. Repeat until sprite is flat.
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Meis on Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:31 pm

OK will do!
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Watermeronz on Wed May 23, 2012 9:43 pm

Thank you SO much for this! My first sprite using this method is currently cooling :grinbig:
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby Terium on Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:40 am

Thank you very much for this cool guide :) Everything went good with my first 3 sprites :)
Haven't really dared anything big yet so I'm currently stuck at mushrooms and other boring stuff haha :eek:
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Re: How to Flat-iron Sprites - by SerenaAzureth

Postby sebastien on Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:13 am

Thanks for the tutorial

By the way i need to ask in order to pose a sprite

you need to iron both sides but if you close all holes the other side will look like a mine field thats correct? anyways it's only so it can stand on it's own

i was just wondering if it was a natural thing and normal :)


PS: also i found out if you guys aren't happy with a sprite that has a few holes remaining you can always retouch it with tip of iron theres no ''deadline really
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