As I said on the main needlework and stitchery page, my love of both art, and a simple basic way of life, includes needle arts in different ways. Bead weaving on a bead loom is a very relaxing and rewarding way to express the artist in each of us. For me, it is very close to my many years of painting and drawing. I will be building this page over time, and in the meantime, have posted some links below for use as references or recommended sites for supplies.
A loom that may become my "main" loom is the Ojibway-style loom. I have looked at many types of looms, from the basic wire looms mentioned below to the very expensive Mirrix looms. The Mirrix looms seem to have one main difference from most looms, as that is the shedding device. This lifts certain sections of the warp threads at a time, and is similar to rigid-heddle or frame weaving in that regard. I personally have not yet seen that having an open shed on my bead loom is that much of an advantage. My rigid heddle loom has a nice beater/shedding device and I don't think I could do without it for weaving wool or other fibers, it just makes weaving so much easier. Personally, though, when bead weaving, the beads still have to be put between two threads to be held in place, and if the shedding device adds that much expense to a loom, the advantage of quickly pulling a strand through a shed isn't worth the cost for me. Others must feel differently because the Mirrix looms are popular.
The Ojibway-style loom is two dowels that have notched boards between them. The photo below shows an Ojibway-style loom that I have warped with C-lon size D nylon beading thread. C-lon is supposed to be superior in strength to Nymo (sizeB), but I am finding that the C-lon brand splits much more easily. The loom below has 24-inch dowels, but any length up to 48 inches can be used, making this a loom that can handle anything from miniature projects to long belts or tapestries. The beading width is about 4-1/2 inches. One nice aspect of this loom, that I guess I should have thought of before reading the instructions, is the warping method. By starting the warp at say, the bottom left corner, and tying to the dowel temporarily, taking the warp thread up, over, and under and completely around the loom, coming up next to the original front thread, this loom is warped with a continuous warp. As the beading is completed, the piece is simply moved down over and past the lower notched board and around to the back. Continuous warp like this allows you to double the length of the dowel length in the finished piece. For the work I have started below, I did not use continuous warp, but simply wrapped each warp thread around the dowel and back in the other direction.
I currently have several looms warped - I have two pending "large" projects on my 5-inch by 12 -inch loom and my 8-inch by 12-inch loom, I have a small 6-inch by 6-inch project on my loom with spacing meant for Delica beads, and I have two economical wire belt looms warped with projects started. The Ojibway loom above could handle all of these projects with the exception of the large 8-inch by 12-inch tapestry project. The loom above cost around 18.00.
To Purchase Beads:
(Note - even though beads have specific sizes, manufacturers seem to vary in consistency among any one size group. I recommend buying all the beads for any one project from the same manufacturer, unless size difference is part of your project.)
Beadaholique - all types of beads and findings.
Fire Mountain Gems - also, all types of beads and findings
Mill Hill Beads Online Store - Seed beads in beautiful colors, and Magnifica brand cylindrical seed beads
There are the very inexpensive wire-frame bead looms often sold as "Native American" or "Indian" looms. I am part Poospatuck Native American, and although the names of these looms bother me a bit, they are good narrow looms that will suffice if you are not sure if you want to buy a larger loom. They are wonderful for belts, headbands, or bracelets, and can be found in almost any craft store. Look for washers on the bolts - it saves the warp loosening unexpectedly.
I believe the reference to Native Americans with these looms refers to the very beautiful and detailed beadwork by our Native American ancestors, which was, and is, a staple art of their lives. Different tribes have very different styles and it is a subject that is well worth the research if Native American style beadwork is desired. One site to begin researching Native American beadwork is Whispering Wind. They have a wonderful magazine, and their Craft Annual # 7 has a equally wonderful article regarding bead weaving with a heddle loom.
For larger, or wider looms, here are some links:
There is an Ebay seller who has wonderful, functional looms that are well-made and easy to use: Seller lbcrusin - I have one of their 5-inch looms and one of their 8-inch looms and love both of them.
Mirrix Looms - beautiful, top-of-the-line tapestry and bead looms
BeadLooms.com - several sizes of wood looms
"American Indian" brand wire bead loom
A "Professional" model bead loom - specifically for size 11/0 to size 15/0 beads. I've seen these under more than one brand name, but they are featured on the Miyuki Delica brand bead website.
Please see my videos on making a simple warp coil, and warping a pvc pipe loom for bead weaving.
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