Fast and Easy Loomwork?
I love square stitch. I just finished two square stitch projects--a crazy lavender/lime green/orange/black bracelet for the June/July Beadwork challenge (pictured here) and a heart-themed square for the Bead-It-Forward annual fundraiser. Square stitch is perfect for charted designs, but frankly, it isn't the fastest stitch in the world and lately, my time is at a premium. Another beader told me that loomwork would be faster than square stitch for the more sizable piece (a 4-5 inch square) that I'm planning for the cover of a small photo album. Then I read in The Beader's Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell that "loomwork is one of the easiest beading techniques." Fast and easy, huh? How could I resist?
How to Make a Temporary Bead Loom
To start, I pulled out a copy of Beading on a Loom by Don Pierce, which gives tips on choosing beads and thread, warping the loom, correcting mistakes, and advanced techniques like open weave and creating subtle shading and curves.
Beading on a Loom also provides step-by-step instructions to make your own loom. Following the instructions in the book will result in a more handsome and permanent loom than mine (pictured here). If you decide that you like loomwork, then you may want to buy a high-quality loom with additional features like adjustable settings for different sized projects. (If any experienced loomworkers have loom suggestions for me, please share them on the website. I'd really appreciate it!)
1. Find a suitable frame. A box lid or an old picture frame will work. Choose an appropriate size for your project. Don Pierce recommends, "If you're planning a bracelet with a finished length of 7", you'll need a loom that will hold a 19" warp--7" for the weaving and 6" at each end for finishing."
2. Use a ruler to mark even spaces that are the size of your beads. When you start stringing the beads, you'll want to have one thread on each side of the bead without any big gaps. (For my sample, I marked 10mm spaces for my motley collection of 10mm beads.)
3. If you are using a cardboard frame like mine, use scissors to notch the cardboard to hold the threads. For a wooden frame, you could use small nails, long springs, or another method of anchoring the thread onto the loom. In researching this piece, I found lots of creative ideas, including one person who glued a haircomb on each end of the loom to hold the threads.
4. Wrap the thread around the loom, continuing until you have one more thread than the number of rows in your pattern. You'll want to make sure your tension is even and taut, but not tight.
That's it! You're set up and ready to weave.
Check out this week's free loomwork project from the Beadwork archives:
New Free Project
Stones and Roses
by Stacey Neilson
Sophisticated loomworked bracelets worked with rose montees, rhinestones with a channeled metal backing for thread to pass through in crossing directions. (I found rose montees also listed as "sew-on rhinestones" at places that sell items for costume design or that carry vintage findings.) Prestring rose montees on a bead loom and then weave a cobblestone texture between them with 4mm cube beads and size 8 seed beads. This project from the October/November 2004 issue of Beadwork will be free until March 31, 2009.
New Charity Auction: Bead Star's online charity auction begins today, March 6, 2009 and runs through the 16th. Designers donated some of their prize-winning designs from Bead Star, including Egyptian Sunburst by Lori Mendenhall pictured here. The proceeds from the auction will benefit the American Heart Association's women's heart-health initiative. All auction items will be on display at Bead Fest Santa Fe, March 12-15, 2009 if you want to see them in person or bid on one of the five selected for silent auction at the show. Visit the Bead Star website for auction details.
Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.