Beads, or bead-like objects such as berries, nuts and shells - have been used for many thousands of years, not only as personal ornaments over the centuries, but also as money for trading, as a means of counting and even for sending messages.
Beads can be made from glass, ceramics, clay and wood, all available in different sizes from the very tiny seed-like beads to handsome large decorated ones. You can buy them from craft shops and stores, or pick up old necklaces in second-hand shops and unstring them for your own use.
The craft of weaving beads on a small loom was widely practiced widely by the North American Indian tribes, and continues to be a craft that is used in modern ceremonies and traditional dress. Many beautiful patterns can be produced in this way for use as belts, bands, chokers, bracelets, hatbands or purses. Sew decorative strips of woven beadwork on boots or evening bags too.
For this you will need a loom, either bought or made at home by tapping nails into opposite ends of a wooden box or picture frame; a beading needle for fine work; strong thread such as nylon fishing line (if working with large beads, fine macrame string or buttonhole twist may be used); and beads.
To set up a bead loom, cut half half the required number of warp (or lengthwise threads, making them double the length required plus 18". Allow, however, for each outside warp to be used double to give strength to the edge of the work. Fold the looped lengths of thread over the loom bar and stretch the threads over the combs, each in its own space (two in each outer space).
Note: If working on a home-made loom, stretch the warp thread, which has to be continuous, as tightly as possible between the nails. It is, of course, only possible to weave articles of limited length on a loom of this type.
Hold all threads taut, pulling them over the roller and pushing in the wooden slat to hold them securely.
As an example, to make a band 1" wide and 12" long, you would need fourteen warp threads (twelve threads plus one extra on each side).
You should cut seven lengths of warp each 42" long (34" plus 18") and fold each in half.
Put the different colored beads in separate saucers for easy working, then thread a length (about 30") of weft or working thread in the needle and tie on the right-hand warp threads of the loom.
Darn three lines without beads for a firm end, then thread on one complete row of beads, following your pattern chart; there will be one bead fewer than there are warp threads. Push beads up between warps. To secure, pass the needle back through the beads on top of the warps. This holds the beads firmly in place.
Continue to work in this way, following the pattern you are making and pulling the thread tight at the end of each row. When you are running out of working thread, pass it backward and forward through three or four rows to secure the ends, and do the same with the beginning of the new thread. Do not knot ends.
When you are making a long item such as a belt, weave the length of the loom, then loosen the warp by taking out the wooden slat. Turn the comb nearest the loom bar out of the way and withdraw the stick (do not detach warp). Wind the finished beading round the bar and re-insert it in the loom. Secure the warp tightly and continue to weave.
To finish off
Weave a few lines without beads as at the beginning and remove work from loom. Either thread the warp ends back into the woven section through the beads, or, if you are going to line the work, turn the ends under and stick with glue. Alternatively, knot the ends in pairs close to the woven part.
Attractive side fringes may be added at one or both sides of the work.
Thread sufficient beads for one row plus three, four or five beads for the fringe on the right.
Press beads into spaces, then pass the needle back around the end fringe bead and through all the other beads.
Now thread the beads for the left-hand fringe plus the pattern beads and pass the needle back as before.
Project: Belt, Ring & Band on Loom
1/16" Beads (seed beads)
1,800 Silver Beads
1,700 Gold Beads
500 Dark Blue Beads
550 Green Beads
550 Red Beads
150 Orange Beads
150 Pink Beads
100 Yellow Beads
100 Pale Blue Beads
The headband and belt are worked on basically the same plan (illustrated) but the belt has an extra line of gold or silver beads above and below the butterfly motif.
As you will see from the key, the colors are alternated, one butterfly being worked in green, pale blue, orange and yellow on a silver background and the other in red, white, pink and blue on a gold background.
To make band, belt and ring
For the band, set up sixteen threads (the outer ones double) each 24" long. Weave 5 motifs, following illustration, starting and ending with a silver one. Take band off loom, tie off ends and slip-stitch a piece of white elastic 1¼" wide to one end of the band underneath. Fit round head under hair and cut off, allowing an extra ¾" for sewing to other end of headband.
Make the belt in the same way tying on 36" threads, but tie an extra two threads on the loom. The outer row on each side should be worked in either gold or silver, depending on the pattern. Work eighteen motifs for a 25" waist, for tying the belt and for two hanging ends.
To make the ring, thread eight threads (double for outer ones). Bead in rows as follows: gold, red, white, pale blue, pink, pale blue, white, red, gold, silver, green, dark blue, yellow, orange, yellow, dark blue, green, silver until the ring is wide enough for your finger. Take off the loom and tie off matching ends together.
Play around with different patterns and colors using an ordinary piece of grid paper, or chart out your pattern in an excel spreadsheet. Have fun and enjoy.
Thanks for stopping by & Happy Crafting!
© 2012 Dawn
asit ray on December 03, 2015:
Mimikat from Northeastern NY State, USA on February 24, 2015:
I've had a bead loom around the house for years- I think I'm going to try this.
Jacobb9205 on February 10, 2015:
Awesome! Thank you for posting!