How to Use a Bead Loom: 10 Things You Must Know
Bead looming is a fun and easy technique that began long ago as a Native American decorative art form. Looming has evolved over the years and is often used by modern beaders to make stylish bracelets and accessories. As the style and forms of bead looming evolved, so did the tools, materials, and equipment. You can easily spice up loomed designs by using two-hole beads, leather cording, fibers, fun patterns, and unique finishing options.
Learning how to use a beading loom can catapult your craft repertoire. These handy little tools allow you to create complex and colorful beading patterns that you can use to complement a wide range of jewelry, apparel and home décor crafts. From elaborate tribal patterns that pay tribute to the original designs made by Native Americans to gorgeous florals and geometrics for your trendy accessories, there’s no vision you can’t bring to life beading on a loom.
Some of the most popular crafts made in bead looming are bracelets. You can craft trendy stacking bracelets in vibrant colors or make custom patterns in your favorite shades. You can even use your bead loom to make patriotic, nautical and bohemian designs. With a relatively affordable loom and — here comes the fun part—your favorite beads, you can dream up some of the most eye-catching crafts known to man!
Here at Interweave, we love looming because it’s limitless. We’re passionate about teaching you how to use a bead loom and all there is to know about this prized technique, from the fundamentals to the extra embellishments. Tammy Honaman, web producer for the Interweave bead group, recently filmed an amazing course on how to bead on a loom, which is now available for sign-up.
I’m here to tell you about the top 10 things you must know about looming, all of which are demonstrated and thoroughly explained during the course. But before we get to the list, here’s a peek at some of what went on behind the camera:
How to Use a Bead Loom: Top 10 List
- Materials and Tools
Like all art forms, looming requires a variety of materials and tools. Making sure you have all the essentials on hand is key to a pleasant crafting experience. If you’re a seasoned beader, you probably already have most of the necessary supplies in your stash, but, if not, they’re easily accessible. Since there are so many beading materials on the market it’s important to know which types and brands of each to use. Take thread, for example. When looming, you can use nylon threads or braided beading threads, but there’s a time and a place for both. You’ll learn about this and much more in the Learn How to Bead on a Loom course.
- Setting Up and Warping a Beading Loom
Setting up and warping your loom is one of the most crucial steps. Certain looms must be adjusted to the desired length of the finished design prior to warping and adding beads, but others don’t. During the course, you’ll learn which looms do and don’t require this extra step. And if you’re reading this and wondering, “what in the world is a warp?” Tammy will teach you this, plus how to properly add warps and avoid mistakes while doing so.
- Adding Beads
Adding the first row of beads to a warped loom can be tricky. Before any beads are added to the loom, the warp threads will have inconsistent spacing and may be overlapping and twisted. This is why it’s so important to correctly place your beads. In the course, you’ll learn tips and tricks for properly placing beads within your warp threads and an ingenious technique to avoid splitting the threads when locking the beads in place.
- Using Even Tension
As with any beading technique, keeping consistent tension while looming is vital. Even tension will keep the beads perfectly aligned within each warp and will also maintain straight edges for the length of the piece. Tammy demonstrates a few tactics while looming that will keep your tension even. It makes all the difference.
- Ending and Adding Threads
Running out of thread in the middle of a beading project can cause panic for some. I’m guilty of starting with five or more feet of thread, just to avoid this. I have to laugh at myself for this because ending and starting threads in the middle of a beading project is really quite simple, and the same is true when looming. You can use the exact same technique to end and start threads within a loom project, so you’ll master it in no time. Let Tammy show you how in the Learn How to Bead on a Loom course.
- Weaving in Thread Tails
Once you finish adding all the beads to your looming project, you’ll have to face the inevitable—tying off and weaving in the working thread and warp threads. This process is the last big step before finishing your piece.
- Removing Beadwork from the Beading Loom
TA-DA! This is one of the most exciting moments of working on a loom. Depending on the loom you use, this process will look a bit different. In the course, Tammy demonstrates removing the beadwork from a Rick’s Beading Loom, which is one of the most common looms on the market. In the Finishing Options section of the course, she’ll touch on the removal process from a few other looms.
- Finishing Options
Like other beading techniques, there’s a variety of finishing options for your loomed beadwork. The saying “the options are endless” is so very true here. Adding the correct clasp is the cherry on top of all the work you’ve already put into your loomwork. You can also use your loomed piece to dress up a plain metal cuff, which is a fun alternative for finishing. For all clasp and finishing options, tune into the course.
- Types of Looms
There are many different looms on the market, and each individual loom has its own benefits. Some looms are portable and easy to travel with. Others only require two warp threads for easy finishing. There’s a loom specifically for small projects, such as earrings and accessories. In the Learn How to Bead on a Loom course, you’ll get the inside scoop on 6 different looms so you can decide which is the best fit for you.
- Reading Patterns
While it’s visually appealing, easy, and fun to loom with mixed beads at random, you can create beautiful loomwork by following a pattern. You can work from a preexisting pattern or create your own. In the course, you’ll learn how to follow a pattern, how to properly string beads according to a pattern, and how to hold your place in a pattern as you work. Speaking of patterns, when you sign up for the course you’ll receive a PDF download to make the gorgeous bracelet pictured below.
The Next Step: Sign Up
Now that you have the scoop on all there is to know and learn about bead looming, it’s time to take the next step and sign up for the Learn How to Bead on a Loom course. You’ll love learning from Tammy because she’s a natural teacher, an expert on the subject, and your biggest cheerleader. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start looming!
Join Tammy and start beading on a loom, today!