Beading looms are incredibly easy to use. Most have "Ages 6 and Up" printed on the box! Looms are usually made of wood or metal. The smaller metal looms available in any craft store and in many toy stores are fine for short, narrow projects, and run under $10. Wooden looms (shown below) are usually larger, usually resizeable, and better for longer or wider projects. They are a bit more expensive: $20 or more.
Note the end piece in the image above. Along the backs of each are 5 eye hooks, and along the tops lay tightly coiled springs.
Threading and Using the Loom:
A bead loom is much like a cloth loom. The long, vertical threads which support the work are called "warp threads," and the horizontal thread upon which you actually string the beads is called the "weft" or "woof" thread. To begin, tie your thread to one of the eye hooks, then thread it over the spring on that end and up to the spring on the other end. Lay the thread over that, then through an eye hook on that side, back over the spring, and then back to the first end. Repeat as needed, spacing carefully. This is your warp. The first and last threads of the warp should be doubled for strength. The thickness of thread used should be taken into account as well. I often thread the warp with size A Nymo, and weave the woof with size 00. But there is no reason you cannot use the same size thread throughout. Purely up to you.
The number of threads used in the warp depends upon how wide your piece is to be. You add one thread more than the count of your beads. Thus, if you were making a bracelet 7 beads wide, you would string 8 threads on the loom (10, if you count doubling the first and last). Tension on these should be relatively tight. To figure length, add three or four inches minimum to each end of the piece. In other words, to loom a 7 inch bracelet, your warp should be 13 inches or longer.
Thread your needle with 18 inches of Nymo™, and tie off the end to the first (doubled) warp thread. Weave this woof thread in and out of your warp a few times to anchor it. Then bring the needle under all the warp threads. You can start from either side--I loom left to right, myself.
Pick up 7 beads on your needle and draw them down to the end of the woof. With your index finger under all the beads, push them up through the warp, making sure that each bead fits between a thread of the warp.
Keep pushing the beads up, and re-insert your needle into the beads, over the warp threads. Be careful that you do not pierce the warp threads as you go back through (push the beads up higher if you have to). Bring the needle out of the beads, and back under the warp.
And that's basically it. Repeat as needed, until the beadwork piece is as long as you want it.
I found finishing to be the trickiest part. What the heck do you do with all those dangling warp threads? There are several methods, and some work better than others. It rather depends upon what you're making.
One way is to weave the woof into the warp for about a half-inch at each end of the piece. Then detatch one end of the weaving, pick up the first two warps, and tie them into a tight knot at the foot of the row. Repeat for all the warps, then turn them under the piece. Hide them by glueing or sewing a bit of backing onto the piece, such as thin leather, velveteen, or felt. This works well, but can be bulky. One beader I know uses this method, then seals the knots with a tiny drop of SuperGlue, kind of brushed on with the point of a pin.
Lazy me decided to try this, but without the weaving of the woof. Big mistake. I glued the warp to the beads and
couldn't turn anything under! Be careful.
Another method is to tie off the warp right up against the beads (without weaving the woof), then weave each warp back into the beads of the piece with your needle. This also works well, unless you've used small beads and large thread: no room. Plan ahead if you want to use this method.
Some like to tie off, then braid the warps, but to do this you have to string much longer warps than I have suggested. But thread is cheap, so go for it if you like.
How about adding clasps? A little tricky. You can tie off the warp against the beads, gather all the threads, string them through a clasp and knot them, then turn them under the piece and hide them with backing.
The method I use the most often requires a bit of forethought. At the top of the piece, I weave about an inch of beads unrelated to my pattern. At the end, I weave the woof a bit, knot the ends and glue the knots, then turn under. Then I glue on a small square of hooked Velcro. (I later sew it to the piece for good measure.) At the end where I wove that extra inch of beads, I also knot and glue, but I lay the warp on top of the piece and secure the looped side of the Velcro.
If you are weaving bands to sew onto garments, you can simply knot the ends, and use the warps to sew the piece on, hiding them under the cloth.
You can make a small, perfectly serviceable loom, if you are at all industrious.
Making a Box-Loom:
Wooden cigar box (not cardboard) available at most Tobacconists or from your stinky Uncle.
Small brads, preferably threaded
Two 2mm spring coils, approx. 5 inches long each
6 to 10 threaded eye-hooks
Leave the lid on the box for now. You can decide to keep it or not when you're done. Bend down one full coil at either end of your springs to attach them to the top of the short sides of the box. Measure across the box and mark where you will nail them down. They should sit directly opposite one another--see the loom pic at top of page. Remember that the wood of the box is soft, so hammer the brads in carefully! Now, screw in three to five eye-hooks along the short sides of the box--again, see the pic up top for clarification. Don't screw them in so deeply they come thru the box. The sharp tips will scrape your hands.
Although the lid will not shut with the coils on, I left it on my box. It's handy to hold extra beads and supplies when you're working. If you have loose beads in the bottom and want to keep them with the box, just store the whole outfit in a freezer-sized zipper bag.
If you have a question, e-mail me using the address (reproduced in text format only) found on this site's home page: HOME. I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.
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Deborah Walker. These images may be downloaded to your hard drive for instructional purposes, but MAY NOT be used on other web pages, nor may they be copied in any manner or distributed in classes without prior permission and payment of a fee to the author.
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