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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ABC's of Creativity - L is Loomwork

A loom is a hand-operated or power-driven apparatus for weaving fabrics, containing harnesses, lay, reed, shuttles, treadles, etc. (

Loomweaving beads requires a simpler loom with no need for extra device. Just something to hold the warp threads strung. And then the weft threads are created as you weave. The beads are secured by tying on thread. Picking up beads, pushing them up between the warp threads and securing them by passing back over the top of the warp threads. As seen on the loom used to loomweave these kimono panels. The panels then are stitched together like fabric to create this amazing kimono.
Panel in progress on small simple wooden loom

"Costume of Kabuki" kimono on display at Bead & Button Show with designer and beader Takako Sako
I’ve seen many different styles of looms with each artist sincerely believing their version is the best. They are absolutely right in their claims. Because there are so many styles and global commuities who do loomwork, looms come in all shapes and sizes. For loomweaving you need a long or expandable loom to string the long warp threads which are secured to coils, combs or nails at both ends of a basic loom made of wood or a fancy high tech Mirrix loom.
8" Lani Loom from Mirrix
Some loom manufactures claim the loomwork created on their loom can be finished by simply pulling in the warp threads.
New loom from Clover, going to experiment with it

Other styles embrace the warp threads that can be finished in fringes. Or tied into elegant swags. This is the case in in the Ukrainian -style of ‘gerdany’ which I teach and and have patterns for.
Leaning long wooden loom against table for a more comfortable work environment

Adding fringe to finish warp threads on lower edge of medallion
Joining warp threads to make swags

I’ve had the pleasure of taking a loomwork course with Don Pierce. The creator of “Larry the Loom” which can be tilted for comfortable loomweaving.

Vyacheslav Kalejnikov builds his own window frame looms which are an ideal height for weaving while sitting on a small stool. He uses found objects, i.e.curtain pulls for the top and nails along the lower edge where he can wrap warps threads around. He prefers to do large scale projects. Note the aids used to make sure he picks up the beads one row at a time. Vyacheslav prefers to use 2cut beads which tend to stretch out faces.
Vyacheslav working on his custom loom
Because of the distinct differences of seed beads, you need to be consistent by choosing either the  more donut-shaped Czech seeds v.s. rounded squarish-shaped Japanese seed beads. Mixing them together in one piece could cause unevenness. Cylindrical beads, i.e. Delica® or Aiko® should be used on their own. It has a complete different feel than a piece loomwoven with seed beads. Use nylon beading thread, i.e. NYMO or C-LON for the warp and weft.

Early bandolier bag makers used a wooden loom to create beaded designs which were then applied to the bags. Artists strung beads on the loom in a series of parallel lines, a process that made it difficult to create abstract or circular designs. Consequently, most pattern woven on the loom are geometric or linear.
courtesy Jean Upton
Master craftsman Maria Chulak of Pyadyky, Kolomyya Region, Ukraine shows off her ‘gerdany’. These are stylized. The motifs appear to be floating and a few are loomwoven in contemporary fashion color.
Originally there were no such things as loomwork patterns. Traditional embroidery patterns were used for reference. Opaque seed bead were matched to the embroidery thread color. It’s interesting to see how the old became new again in 2011. Solid loomweaving of the embroidery pattern recreated in Czech seed beads.
An assortment of stylized 'Gerdany'with traditional motifs' by Maria Chulak, 2006
"Gerdan" by Maria Chuluk, 2011
An assortment of 'gerdany' by Maria Chuluk
An assortment of stylized 'gerdany' by Maria Chulak. I own the center one.
Jennie Bochar’s grandmother's 100 year old ‘gerdan’ depicting a protectress “berehynia’ loomwoven in Ukraine was photographed during my Gerdan-makingSeries at the Ukrainian Museum Archives in Ohio 2011

 Here we prepare to weave a medallion style piece:
Aligning the woven bands to prepare for weaving the medallion
Maria and Grace show off a loom with folded band ready for weaving medallion

From my 3 week Looomwork series that I taught at beadFX earlier this spring.
Matiss, 9 year old, managing his beads
Matiss' work in progress
Maria and her amazing students at beadFX April 2013
If you are interested in learning my style of loomwork I will be teaching a 3-week series again this fall at beadFX.

This entry in our creativity series was prepared by Maria, but blogger was not letting her create, edit and post it. So I have been Maria's tech support.

Hope that you will look at loomweaving with beads as a creative possibility. 

Happy Beading!


  1. Thank you Jo-Ann for saving the day an makin my loomwork info available to the world while Blogger was misbehavin' for me and even locked me out. for s while last night.

  2. Your welcome. There are so many inspiring images to spark some creativity. Looking forward to seeing the Clover loom!

  3. Amiga,
    Eu adorei seu trabalho. É encantador!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Parabéns!!!!!!!
    Os colares são magníficos. Bjs

  4. Do you have dvds on how to do step by step. Its beautiful im just not sure the starting process of the pieces I would love to see it

  5. Wonderful work and info! Do you have a book or tutorial? I have a 100 year old gerdan necklace that belonged to my grandmother that needs repair. I think it may actually be best to undo all of the beads and completely reweave it. I want to make sure I have expert instructions so I don’t mess it up - it is a precious heirloom!
    Thank you,
    Elen Freelander