Warp Speed

Beadwork, in some form, has been around for at least 5,000 years. And although the origins are lost to us, there is fossilized evidence that as soon as we dressed ourselves – in Cro-Magnon days 30,000 years ago (!) – we found visual ways to communicate our individual status and artistry through embellishment.

One form of beadwork is bead weaving, which can be created off-loom with a needle, thread, and stitches such as peyote, herringbone, and brick stitches.

Bead looming is a relative late-comer. It follows the same warp and weft process as creating cloth, mat-making and basketry.  The warp thread provides a base on which to add the perpendicular wefts, which hold the beads.

It was only with the refinement of bead making, which allowed for the quick production of consistent, tiny beads, that loom work could truly find its voice amongst bead art forms. The looming experience is rhythmic, therapeutic, and deeply satisfying.

Bead looms vary from the basic, plastic summer-camp version to sophisticated designs. The Beading Room sells a few loom variations and sizes. Check out our looms, accessories, and kits here.

And check out these Miyuki end tubes to finish your loomed piece professionally – and super easily!

Bead looming, which unlike Peyote and other stitches, is exceptionally easy to learn, may wax and wane in popularity, but it never dies. I think it’s earned its place because it’s just so darn fast. In beading terms, it is as close to instant gratification as you can get – and for a substantial piece!

Abstract bead loom pattern by GalaFitz, Etsy

The photo is a piece that I completed last month, and it took me about 3 hours, from setting up the loom to adding the clasps, ready to wear.

Warp speed, Scottie! Loom away!

Sorry, I get carried away with beadiness!


(Originally published November 25, 2020)

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