Cuff Swap – Loom Beading

For those of you who regularly read my blog, you may know that I’m not only a writer but I’m one of those insane people who also likes to work with little bitty beads. I don’t just mean large fancy ones that you can easily string without use of a magnifying glass. For me, the smaller the bead, the  more fun it is to work with. This chart gives a good example of the sizes of beads I use. And yes, I’ve used every size on that chart at least once. 😉

Earlier this year, entered in the Bead Loom Room group on FB.  The FB group focuses on loom beading and is lead by Erin Simonetti. I’ve loved her cuffs since I first viewed them. She uses traditional looming techniques but then adds on 3-D elements and edging techniques that are quite uncommon. Looming is mostly a thinking inside the box technique, but Erin has figured out how to move it outside with great results.

So when she suggested we have an exchange I signed up. I confess, I was eager to try some new things. After I received my assignment I thought a few weeks about what I wanted to do. I knew almost immediately I wanted to do something floral and the lady who would receive the cuff liked blue. (which is my favorite color so I always have plenty of that color around.) At first I wanted to do some vines with Morning Glories, but I also wanted to do some 3-D elements with it.  Later I settled on a blue Hibiscus flower.

Next I ordered a few beads that I hoped would work well together and looked at some of the clasps everyone was using. Lima Beads has a wonderful selection of Toho Beads and other things. I selected some fabric crimps that other loom beaders use from an Etsy store. The beads arrived but the crimps did not. Apparently someone somewhere has sticky fingers and stole my stuff. I did receive a refund but it took a while.

In the mean time, I plotted out my flower. For most projects in looming,  you need a graph of what the design is going to be like. Looming is very structured for the most part. Lines of beads fit in between weft threads and you weave back and forth with the warps. It’s easy to get lost or pick up a wrong bead if you don’t have a design laid out.

I also had to plan out how the piece was going to work. Because I wanted to stretch my idea, I decided to use different sizes of beads in the pattern. For the flower I was going to use a size 15 Toho and 13 Czech bead (they are mostly the same size), and a size 8 bead for the background. This would take careful planning as I wanted all of the rows of the background to line up. Planning the wefts was another hurdle as typically you have a weft between each bead, but because I was using 2 different sizes, I had to stagger the spaces (4, 3 and 2 beads wide.)

Once the beads arrived I was able to start looming. Of course the first start was a disaster, but after taking it out and switching colors things went very quickly. I started in the middle, then worked one side. Flipped the loom and then worked the other side.  Looming projects are always quick. Rows can be done in a matter of minutes so long as the piece isn’t too wide. I had the piece loomed within a couple of evenings.

I then cut the piece off the loom so I could finish it. The ends had to be woven in, then I started on the petals that extended from the  loom piece. I then accented the petals on one side so that they had a more 3-D feel. Lastly I worked on the edging using a modified brick and RAW on one side and a peyote using duos on the other.

The result was, in my opinion, quite nice.


Photo credit Shirley Jones Moore

At some point I’ll do some more. I didn’t realize how much I missed looming.



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