The Jump Start Classroom is
proud to present a lesson by a visiting professor!
by Wendy Van Camp
Visit Wendy's web site
So, you saw one of those little bead looms
in the craft store and just could not resist buying it. Visions
of bracelets, hat bands and belts swirling in your imagination.
But now that you have it, how do you use it?
Bead looms are based on a simple loom style.
Basically, just a frame with a method of keeping the strung warp
threads a uniform distance from one another. You loom should
have instructions on how to string it properly, but a few tips
to keep in mind are:
1. Make sure that all the warp threads are
uniformly tight on the loom. While these threads should be taunt,
they should not be so tight that they break while you work.
2. The warp threads should be placed on the
loom in such a way that you can shift them without the threads
3. Use the proper type of thread for
beading and the right size for your work. Some to consider are
Nymo, Silamide or Silk. Try to use the thinnest thread that you
can manage, since you will be passing through the beads several
times in some instances. Also, waxing your thread can help to
make it pass through the beads more easily.
Before you load your loom with your chosen
thread, have a look at your pattern. Pick a color of thread that
will disappear into the finished beadwork. If you are using dark
colors, black thread works well. Some threads come in various
shades, if you want to use one, decide which color is the dominate
hue in your pattern and match it with the appropriate thread
For loom work, any cross stitch or knitting
pattern will work well or use the grid picture I designed (above
left). However, keep in mind that if you are using seed beads
your pattern with be a bit wider than it is tall. Count
the number of rows in the width of the pattern and then add one
more to it. This is the number of warp threads that you need
to load onto your loom.
Seed beads come in many shapes and sizes.
For beadweaving, there are two types of beads. Seed beads and
Delicas. Seed beads have been around for many centuries. They
are the beads that the English traders used as currency with
the American Indians, Africans and other colonies. Most are imported
from either The Czech Republic or Japan. They come in many
sizes from 22/0 to 1/0. The size most often used for beadweaving
is 11/0, pronounced "eleven ought". This number
refers to how many beads are in an inch when laid flat. If you
are a beginner I recommend that you select a slightly larger
size, 10/0. The holes are bigger and you will have less trouble
passing your needle through the beads.
Delicas are a recent addition to the bead
world, a small cylinder bead that is as tall as it is wide.
They are from Japan and are more expensive than seed beads. A
nice feature about Delicas are that you don't have the width
design problem that you have with seed beads and if you are using
a cross stitch pattern for your work, the piece will come out
close in proportion to the pattern. Also, the holes in the beads
are slightly larger than regular seed bead counterparts.
Once you have selected the type of bead that
you will be using, it is time to begin weaving. The following
directions are for a right handed weaver. If you are left handed,
please reverse the direction of your weaving if that is more
comfortable for you.
1. Take a piece of thread around 3 to 4 feet
long and tie one end of it to the thread on the loom that is
closes to you on the left side of the loom. Leave around 4 inches
of thread on the other side of the knot. This is known as
a weft thread. Thread a needle onto the other side of the
weft thread. Preferably a #10 English Beading needle.
2. Look at your pattern, the first bead that
you load onto the weft thread should be the bottom of the pattern
on the left side. Follow the row up, loading the proper
colors onto your thread.
3. Pass the thread under the loom until you
pull the beads directly under it. Use the thumb of your other
hand to gently push the beads up through the warp threads, one
bead per space. Try to get the row as straight as you can. The
first row is always the most difficult so if it takes a few tries
to get the beads to behave, don't worry!
4. Once the beads are pushed up, take the
beading needle and pass it through the beads. Remember,
keep the thread on TOP of the warp threads. If you go under,
the bead will not be secured and if on an end, the bead may pop
off of your work. Once the thread is through, pull gently on
the thread until all the excess is pulled through and your beads
are taunt on the loom. Now, use your fingers to align them into
a straight row.
5. Look at your pattern and find the second
row. Again, load your weft thread according to this pattern.
Before you repeat the weaving process, find the bit of weft thread
tail on the other side of your original knot. As you pass under
the loom, catch it so that it is pulled to the side of your beadwork
6. Once you have passed through the beads
on top of the warp threads and have pulled the weft thread through,
make sure that you align this new row up snugly with the first.
Keeping the beads even as you weave is important, otherwise you
may have gaps in your weaving Continue in this manner. The thread
tail should end up as part of the side threads, unnoticed in
the finished product. If you run out of thread. Knot it at one
of the sides and then weave back through a few rows to hide the
the thread, coming up in the middle of the piece and cutting
it close to the beadwork. The thread will disappear inside your
A few tips to remember as you weave:
1. Make sure that every bead you use is of
a uniform size. If you pick a bead that is a little larger or
smaller than the others, your loomwork will become uneven. If
you find one of these beads, throw it away. It is a cull.
2. Make sure that every bead slides easily over your needle,
especially the eye. If there is even a little resistance, throw
the bead away.
3. Pull the weft thread to a uniform tightness. Don't be
too tight or too loose. If you pull your weft thread too tight,
your finished product will be stiff. Too loose and you risk the
piece falling apart.
When you weave the final row of your pattern,
tie a knot and pull it down until it is snugly against the last
bead, then take your thread and weave it back through your work
a few times, coming up in the middle of your work and cutting
it close to the surface.
To finish the product, take a bit of tape
and secure the warp threads with it close to each end of
your piece. Cut the finished piece off of your loom, leaving
several inches on each side. Fold the warp threads under the
loomwork and then glue to some kind of backing. Leather, sturdy
material or cardboard are good choices. When using glue, take
care that it does not ooze through the beads, this can ruin your
work. Use a thicker glue that will stay on the surface of the
underside of your work. A jeweler's cement makes a good choice.
There you have it! Your first beadwoven
piece.Remember, beadweaving takes time and patience to learn.
Your first product may be of a disappointment, but with practice
your work will improve!
All Images and Text Copyright © 1997
Wendy Van Camp. Used with permission.