A bead loom is a device used to weave beads into a cloth-like beaded fabric. It can be used to create strips of flat-beadwork or larger sized beaded panels that can be incorporated into purses, larger items, or used as artwork. In loom beadwork, the beads align in a row and column formation. Loom beading is faster than off-loom bead stitches but requires some additional steps to set up the loom before you can begin.
It's helpful to have a grasp of the equipment, terms, and steps involved with loom beading before you begin.
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There is a wide variety of bead looms available. All looms have one thing in common—they are designed to hold warp threads under consistent tension to help weave beads on the weft threads.
The good thing about bead looms is that you can successfully weave beads using a flat economy loom or a more expensive upright loom. There are numerous similarities and differences between wireframe bead looms, wood frame fixed looms, adjustable frame bead looms, continuous warp bead looms, and upright bead looms. Decide which type of loom is best for you, your beading work, and your budget.
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All bead looms are made up of several basic parts. Learning the names of the parts and their function in the bead weaving process makes it easier to learn loom beading and to follow project patterns and instructions. Weaving directions will refer to various parts on the loom and you'll need to be able to identify them to weave correctly.
The loom frame is the structure that supports your thread and beadwork while you work.
A warp separator is a device that holds and evenly spaces your warp threads. Often they take the form of a coil or spring.
Some looms have a bar called the warp thread stopper that holds the warp threads in place and prevents them from slipping out of the warp separator.
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The first step in any loom beading project is to attach your warp threads. The method you use to warp your loom depends on the style of your loom, the length of your beadwork, and whether you plan to use a traditional beading method or one of the "no-warps" methods. You'll also have to decide if you are warping for shorter traditional beadwork or longer traditional beadwork.
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Learning to read a loom bead pattern will open up lots of design and style options for your beadwork. Learn how to understand the pattern format, keep track of your place in the pattern, organize your beads for loom stitching, and more.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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The most basic technique for weaving beads on a loom involves stringing a row of beads on a weft thread, bringing them up beneath the warps, and then passing the needle back through the beads on top of the wraps. Before you can even begin beading, you'll need to know how to set up your warp threads, attach the weft thread, and more.
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Finishing off is the process of weaving in the loose threads on your beadwork and attaching or creating a clasp (if your design is a bracelet or necklace). The biggest challenge with this step is finding a way to manage all of the warp threads that remain on your beadwork after you remove it from the loom. There are several different ways to finish off your beadwork, including clamp ends and weaving-in warp threads. Alternately, you can avoid having so many warp threads to deal with if you use a "no-warps" weaving method.
Once you feel comfortable in your knowledge of these steps and information, you are ready to begin weaving on your bead loom.