Monday, January 9, 2017

Loom Weaving - Endless Loom & Beads Reviewed

I have been doing some bead weaving lately, learning some of both on and off loom techniques. It's a bit time consuming (especially off loom, which is completely new to me) and I don't know when I'll be expert, or at least satisfied enough to try and sell any of it, but I always like trying out and learning new things.

On loom bead weaving isn't exactly new for me. I don't remember when I got my first "Indian Beadcraft Loom" but I do remember enjoying beading on one. It may have been when I was in Girl Scouts or even later as a teen in the 70s when beaded things were very much in style.

These days you can buy a number of versions of beading looms - from the simple standard crafts and kids looms that haven't changed much at all since the 50s, to the newer Jewel Loom (a Beadalon product), which is great for its portability and many other cool features (I love mine), to the Ricks Loom (distributed by BeadSmith) that leaves you with just two warp ends to tie off (don't have one yet, it's on my wishlist), and my latest purchase, Endless Loom which leaves no warp ends to deal with at all.

The instructions that come with the loom are well written enough to get you working immediately, but I found watching a YouTube video a couple times, once all the way through to see the whole process and then again as I was making a bracelet, stopping and starting as needed. The BeadsSmith's video gives a nice intro, showing one application with elastic cord (the loom is a BeadSmith product).

Other videos show alternate applications and techniques, just put "Endless loom" in the YouTube search. Because I bought my loom and beads from Artbeads I watched their tutorial. Here's what came in the kit:

I started off with the clasps and two rows of brick stitched beads attached to them as instructed, warped the loom and started beading. I chose a very simple pattern to start. The first two rows on either side of the clasp are a bit curved on the first two I tried (top and middle as shown below), but by my third bracelet, I was able to get it pretty straight. I'm not sure what I did right that time! Perhaps using more beads and the 4 strand clasp helped?

I used white Silkon #2 thread for the first two projects and tried Frost WildFire 0.20mm for the last one. Both types worked just fine. I think I'll go for darker and thicker threads, maybe matching one of the dark colors, for my next one. 

I also went from using the 3 strand clasp to a 4 strand one, used 9 vs 7 beads (these are size 6/0 seed beads, TOHO, Artbeads Designer Blends) and added some tiny metal cylinder beads on the outside edge to see how that would look. 

The TOHO beads aren't consistently the same shapes, some are more round and some more cylindrical. They are fine for this pattern, as I'm not using large blocks of a single color, but I'd want beads that are very consistent for more graphical designs.

It took about one and a half tubes of the Designer Blend to do the 7 bead bracelet for 7.5" wrist. The larger bracelet at the top was almost 2 tubes - I was working with the 8" spacer bars but it turned out to be 9.5" with clasp, not sure how I managed that.

I didn't use all the bead colors available in the mix with any of the bracelets. The left over beads are more of that one unused color and of the center bead color that wasn't used twice in each row. They'll be great with other projects so it's not a concern.

I really like the Endless Loom, it's a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to trying all kinds of variations and beads with it.
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