Pushing ’2D Bead Looming’ into 3D!

I have completed the one side, or panel, of this cell phone bag. Included in the picture of my looming, still on the loom, is a picture of my inspiration. This photo was taken by an amateur photographer named Jean Upton. She shares her photographs on Face Book and it was there I found all of her pictures to be gorgeous! She gave me permission to use one in a looming!

Posting this picture, gave me a idea to share some of my thoughts on ‘subjects’ selected for ‘bead looming creations’.

Bead Looming is unlike many other methods of bead weaving. Since the canvas stays at a two dimensional flat surface, a pattern can make the difference. Oh, of course you can add to the flat loomed surface, by embellishing and attaching a focal, but for the most part, it is a surface that stays flat. When you see a looming that bowls you over, it usually is because the pattern and color selection over whelmed you, as opposed to a wonderful hand woven piece that is constructed to defy all beading strategies, standing ‘up & out’. Not much use for a well thought out pattern or struggle over the ‘right color’ bead needed to draw out a subject, as it is in looming the seed beads.

Patterns can be considered in many ways. Maybe a graphic is needed to offer a modern feel, or cultural idea, or out of a need for a pattern in general. I prefer to consider a subject, one that is understood and seen right away. It is through my desire to create photographs in beads, that I have acquired my best ‘bead color lesson’.

Programs, which are the norm of use, for many beaders, have their faults. One of the biggest is the program’s desire to constantly offer the wrong color for the same color seen differently by the eye! There is no such thing as ‘instant perfect pattern’, with any bead pattern program! I am versed in them all! Whether they are offered for sale or free on the web. I am also comfortable in using a method I created, before ‘bead pattern program creation’, using a graph acetate over a photograph. All of these methods, of creating patterns, need to be ‘tweeked’. Its’ the tweeking that teaches you more.

I am including a chapter, in the book I am finalizing, about bead programs and suggestions for ‘tweeking’ them. But if you want to get the best education on bead programs, use them! Loom some patterns and see how they play out. Make the changes in your program to not fall into the same ‘mishap’ again (wrong bead color selection, etc.). Try out creating a ‘specific pallet’ of some colors you see in the photograph and use the program to create the pattern with only those selected colors! Change up the bead width and length, even if it hinders your pattern width/height. One slight change of the bead number, makes a huge difference in a pattern! (Remember, it’s the pixels of the picture the program is reading!)

Above all, apply yourself to use the programs and don’t feel defeated if the bead looming does not relate to your mind’s eye, as well as you hoped. You did learn something, and now own a gorgeous piece of looming that only ‘you’ know has unfavored color choices!

New beaded cuff bracelet kit

Designing a new kit can be lots of fun. Or it can be pure torture. The second experience describes the grand time I had on Tuesday and Wednesday doing something I normally love to do: designing a new kit.

All I wanted to do was revise the colors for the current tapestry bead cuff. For one who loves color and normally finds it easy to work with, this should have been a fun task. However, my mind has been flooded lately with fiber. I have been dyeing silk in gorgeous autumn colors. Those colors are saturated and rich and really very different from the colors one finds in beads. So since my mind was filled with these colors plus traces of turquoise and maybe even a little black I thought I would translate that into a new beaded cuff kit.

What a complete failure. I did not take pictures of my failures. Suffice it to sat they were awful. Besides the inability to translate my fiber vision into beads was a secondary problem: my based stash was not adequate. I was trying to design from bead sample cards. It it is not possible because one cannot address the interplay of color. I was ready to get in my car and drive to Caravan beads to play in their show room. Eventually, I may have to head up there. Maybe even buy one tube of each color. Now that that would make designing a lot easier.

What i wound up doing? I scrapped my original idea completely. I kept some of the pastels, added a nice rich magenta and also added a lot of metallic green iris beads to accent the pastels. It worked. After two days of trial and error, I finally had a design and colors I loved. But the process was anything but fun.

What I learned. Color in fiber and beads is two very different stories. They don’t always translate well if at all. One has to make a huge shift to accommodate each one. I might get my rich reds and magnet as and blues and yellows and oranges in a beaded piece yet but it’s going to take more than two days of thought.

Now to wait for the beads and put together those new, now lovely, kits.

Attaching a new weft thread!

It is faster and easier to use the length of weft, which is the most comfortable for you to use, during any particular size looming. The more ‘beads wide’, the more times you will need to attach a new weft thread, because the rows are longer and use up the thread faster. I prefer to swap out my weft thread in a way that I do not have so many ‘tails’ of weft thread hanging around my looming. Let me share with you how I swap out my weft thread.


After tying off and cutting the short weft thread, just completing some final rows, I thread my needle on to the tail of the new thread spool, ‘just thread the needle directly to the new thread spool’. Run this threaded needed into the first bead on the last row, or the same bead you exited when you finished up the row prior, still with the spool attached to the other end.


Follow through the entire last row of beads, exiting out the outside right bead, still leaving the spool attached to the new running thread, and entering the first bead in this row. Tie a double hitch knot on the outside warp, in between the two end beads of the last two rows.


After tying a tight knot, run the needle and small tail of weft thread, into the ‘last bead of the second-to-the-last’ row of beads. This will also pull the knot ‘center’ of the last two rows.


If your looming is wide, then exit the needle halfway through the row. If the looming is more narrow, then run the needle completely across the row, existing out the fist bead on the second row up, (the same row you just entered). Pull taught, then cut the new weft thread, close to the bead it was exiting.

Now you can move back to the ‘spool of new weft thread’. Pull out as much thread as you feel comfortable using on your needle. Some like to use a thread just long enough for one complete arm length and others like to include extra so the new weft thread lasts longer (I prefer the extra weft thread, myself!). Cut the new length of weft thread from the spool, thread your needle and begin looming again. There are no tails to get in your way and no tails to clean up later. Also, the knot is situated in between rows, which will allow me to insert the needle, comfortably, later when I am edging or completing my finishing method.

In a future post, I will include a way to attach warps with two wefts, thus eliminating the need to change the warps often, if you are bead looming very wide rows!

Looming another Cell Phone Bag!

My methods of finishing the warps, worked out so well with my last bag, that I can’t wait to dig into another! I am able to complete 26 rows, before I have to add a new length of weft thread, so it is a good time to share a picture!

This loomed cell phone bag is 67 Delica beads wide, with 68 warps across. I’m planning on completing 90 rows, but could go a bit further for a longer bag. A loomed bag sized at 67 beads wide by 90 beaded rows long is a perfect size for any phone, including a IPhone and Blackberry.

Notice I am using black thread for the warps. I am also using a black weft, in this particular piece, unlike any other looming where I use a white weft. Since all of the beads are opaque, I can use a black weft and not worry about it changing the bead colors.

Stay tuned for further completed rows, so you can see what the subject matter of this Loomed Cell Phone Bag will be! I’ll also offer some other ideas and methods, as I go along, until this is completed!

Dyeing, tapestry, autumn

I have been dyeing silk (commercially spun and my own handspun (for the tapestry cuff kits).  Having been away from this activity for quite some time, I had to get my feet wet all over again.   I made all the mistakes you make when you have forgotten an art form.  But I went through them pretty fast and by day three I almost had almost recaptured all the knowledge that had seeped out of me over the years while the dye pots got a little rusty.  I knew I had arrived when finally I was able to do what I do best:  look out the window, see colors and somehow get those colors in the dye pot and on the yarn.  Autumn has just begun to arrive here.  Embedded in the green trees there are splashes of orange/yellow/dull red.  Below are the colors I dyed based on those leaves.

The results happened so fast.  I had been dreaming about these colors the night before.  I focused on trying to dye that perfect salmon color.  I have a thing for that color.  It’s in that pile two the left.  Then I went for a slight more orange salmon (next to it) before launching into some pretty bold pinks and a darker salmon that is pretending to be orange.
Along with the rest of the dyed silk I have pretty much dyed the complete silk palette for the kits.  Of course in addition to the silk is rayon floss in a bunch of colors, perle cotton and some great novelty yarns.  
Below is a photo of a tapestry for a bracelet and a tapestry for a cell phone pouch.  These reflect some of the colors in the kit.