Learn How to Add Fiber to Bead Loom Projects

One of the nicest gifts I've received from a bead friend is my custom-made bead loom, designed/made/gifted by David Dean. It's nice because it's really long so that there's lots of room for hand movement, it has a handmade heddle, and heck, it looks nice on the wall of my studio. I did a few beadweaving projects when I received this mighty loom, but there's been a project sitting on this thing for a couple years now, just waiting to be finished. As most of you know, there are some projects that just aren't going to get finished, no matter how good your intentions are. This was definitely one of them. Just about the time I admitted this and was going to chop the threads to clear the loom, I ran across a project by Claudia Chase that got me excited about reviving this project and weaving on a loom again. In Claudia's project, which can be found on the latest Beads, Baubles, and Jewels DVD (series 1400), she incorporates fibers into her bead loom designs. Brilliant! The resulting cuff bracelets are colorful, textural, and simply wonderful.

So, yes, the thought of adding fiber to bead loom projects made me turn my attention back to my ignored little bead loom project. My project, which started as a design for a book I was writing, was super pattern-oriented. It made me realize that I'm truly not a pattern-follower, and when you're not a pattern-follower, designing patterns isn't really that fun. Anyway, I liked the idea of saving this project with a little freeform fiber addition, so I did a little playing:

1) When I weave beads, I start by stringing enough beads to fit between the warp threads. (The "warp" is the threads I prepared the loom with; just check with your bead loom manufacturer to learn how to warp your particular loom.) Next, I pass under the warp threads, pop the individual beads between the threads, then pass through the beads over the warp threads to keep them in place.


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2) To add fiber to the project, I start a separate thread (apart from the beading thread that I've already been using). I can either thread the needle with the fiber I want to use or, if the fiber is too thick for a needle (like this ribbon), I can stitch into the fiber with a small bit of beading thread or use a Big Eye needle to pull the fiber along as I weave.

3) With beads, I pass back through them to lock them in place on the warp as I did in Step 1. With fiber, it's a little different since there's nothing to pass back through. So, to lock the fiber in place, I'll weave over and under each individual warp thread when I go one way, then under/over when I come back. (You can see the over/under, under/over pattern in this photo.)

4) Next, I press the fiber down the warp to tighten it against previous work. I can switch fibers as I go, add a bit of bead loomwork next, then switch back to fiberwork. The possibilities are vast!

I sure liked playing with this idea. Thank you, Ms. Chase. If you'd like to find out more about weaving on a loom, check out Claudia's presentation on Beads, Baubles, and Jewels. While you're at it, view the dozens of other great projects, tips, and techniques that come in every series of Beads, Baubles, and Jewels.

Happy beading!

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