Melanoma Awareness month is in May. There are plenty of approaches that you can use to help raise awareness on this particular type of skin cancer. One small way in which you can help to promote this cause is with crafting. Both adults and older children can make up this easy Perler bead design based on a black ribbon. Black is the color associated with this type of cancer.
These designs are fun to make and easy to turn into items such as refrigerator magnets, pin brooches, necklaces, bag clips and pieces of jewelry. It could be an ideal craft for a group activity perhaps at school, summer camp, scouts or even a craft club. Create these cancer ribbons for fundraisers and giveaways.
You can give them out freely or use them to raise money for this specific cause. Do your bit to help other people take preventive measures against this disease and learn what symptoms to look out for.
Materials and Tools Needed
- 1 large, square Perler bead pegboard
- 57 gray beads per design
- 33 black beads
- 4 clear beads (optional)
- Your choice of embellishments and fixings for jewelry
1: Notes on Bead Colors and Equipment
You will need a large, square peg board for this design. Since the larger boards are items that you normally get independently from kits, you may not have one. If you only have a small, square board, you can still make the design fit by leaving off the pointed ends of the ribbon pattern.
As well as using a large board, I'm also using the standard (classic) size of beads. Perler is a brand used for the American market but you can also use the European equivalent of Hama, Nabbi or any other fusible type of plastic bead.
You will need 57 gray beads for the outline of the pattern, 33 black beads for filling in the design and 4 clear beads for the middle loop which are optional.
Gray beads are not always easy to get hold of in the general mix buckets and jars and you may need to buy a separate packet with this color so you have plenty. I found that you really need this color to distinguish the outline of the ribbon pattern because otherwise it looks very bland if you make the pattern only in black.
2: Making a Start with the Pattern
The best place that I have found to start this design is with the 14th bottom peg counted across from the left side of your large square board. I have circled this bead on the photo. This is a good starting point because it makes the design nice and centered on the board.
Begin from the bottom, pick the 14th peg from the left as a starting point and work the dark gray outlines shown in the photo. This will create most of the outline for the end pieces of the ribbon when you finish this step.
3: Working the Top of the Outline
Next you need to add in the top part of the gray ribbon pattern. I have highlighted on the photo where you are adding on beads. So that should help with finishing the exterior outline of the design.
4: Adding the Central Beads
For this part, you will need the last 9 gray fused beads to create the inner loop of the ribbon pattern. You can also use 4 clear or transparent beads if you have them. Alternatively you can leave this space empty or even use white as you color choice instead. I've placed a red outline around the area in the photo to make it easier for you to see where the pieces need to go.
5: Fill in the Outline with Black Beads
This is the really easy part. You've done the hard work and created all your pattern outline, so now you just use your black colors to fill in the empty pegs inside the design. It's a bit like coloring since the lines are there and you are just adding in the shade that you want. You will need to use black for Melanoma. If you're making another type of cancer awareness ribbon, just choose the colors you need instead. 
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6: Alternative Design for Small Boards
If you do not have a large, square peg board, it is good to know that you can still make a very similar ribbon design with a smaller board instead. The only difference is that the slanted tips of the ribbon ends are missing because the smaller board is not large enough for that addition to the design. You might prefer working on the smaller boards, especially if this is a group activity where you need lots of boards.
Once your Melanoma bead craft is complete, an adult needs to carefully iron the design according to the instructions. These are normally provided with the packets of the fused beads or with the special ironing paper that you get. If you don't have the instructions or you're not sure, here is a video for how to iron fused beads.
How to Iron Completed Perler Bead Patterns
Ideas for Your Completed Craft
I've added in a touch of sparkle to the finished piece with some tiny flat-backed Swarovski crystals which really do catch the light on this cancer ribbon. You can stick the crystals on with jewelry adhesive that comes supplied with a very fine tip.
You can also decorate your design with flat backed rhinestones, brads, small ribbon bows, tiny fabric flowers and other embellishments. The size of the finished design is a good one for turning into a hair clip, necklace, brooch pin or magnet. 
If you make a batch of these handmade crafts, you can sell them locally to raise money for the Melanoma Research Foundation or other cancer charities. It's nice to know that a simple craft can help towards eventually finding a cure for this disease.
These can also be used to help raise awareness of how we can all protect ourselves and others from the dangers of the sun and tanning. Give the ribbons away along with information on the disease and what people can do to help prevent it. You will find lots of information online that you can use to raise awareness in other people. 
Image Credits: The introductory image belongs to the author, Marie Williams Johnstone. All other images (unless watermarked with the author’s name) are product photos from Amazon.