- Arts and Design
Beading Loom - Before You Buy
Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Beading Loom
You can make some stunning jewelry using beads and a beading loom, but there are so many different types of looms available that it can be confusing deciding which loom to use. Also, looms range from a few dollars to hundreds or thousands. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making a purchase.
Image: Volcano loom beading pattern.
What Will You Make with the Loom?
Do you want to use only beads? Beads and fiber? Some looms can be used for different sizes of beads and also for fiber. How big will your projects be? If you only want to make woven rings, you would probably get frustrated using a wide and long loom (not to mention waste a lot of warp thread). If you want to make belts or purses or large wall hangings, a small loom may be unable to accommodate your designs.
How Do You Weave?
Do you want to sit at a table? Have the loom in your lap? Have the loom running vertically? Horizontally? Able to flip over? If you have never used a loom before, you probably don't know your personal preference for your weaving posture. Comfort matters. A lot! Different looms are made to be used different ways. If you aren't sure how you like to weave, you may want to purchase an inexpensive loom to get a feel for your style before taking the plunge on an expensive loom.
Learn about Beadweaving
What Types of Beads Will You Use?
Some weavers use only one size of beads. If this describes you, make sure your loom accommodates this size of bead (most commonly a size 11 seed bead). You may be able to save money on a loom by limiting your choice of beads. You can weave using larger beads than usual on a loom (space the warps further apart), but it's a bit trickier to use a smaller bead size than is recommended for the loom. If you want to weave with size 15 beads, make sure any loom you consider will accept them. Basically, this implies that the distance between the warp thread is adjustable. Many looms include multiple sizes of warp coils, which are springs that maintain a set distance between warp threads.
How Often Will You Use the Loom?
If you won't use your loom very often, it might not be worthwhile for you to invest a lot of money in a loom. Also, certain looms are easier to store or move than others, so ease of storage and portability might be important for you. On the other hand, if you get a loom that doesn't have the features you need in order to save money, you might end up not using the loom because it isn't suitable for you. That would be a waste, wouldn't it?
Will the Loom Be a Gift?
As you can see, there are a lot of variables to consider. If you are getting a loom to give as a gift you need to have a very clear idea about the needs of the recipient. Ask detailed questions. If the gift recipient already has a loom, I bet he or she will be more than happy to tell you what the pros and cons are for that particular loom and what improvements might be made. In fact, there's a good chance the person has a 'wish list' for an ideal loom! If the recipient is new to weaving, you have more options. In this case, you need to get an idea of the type of beads the person likes to use and the size of the project that will probably be made.
Basic Inexpensive Loom
This is the type of loom on which I learned beadweaving. It is an inexpensive basic loom, great for making beaded headbands and belts.
Research Your Loom Purchase
Looks at looms in catalogs, on eBay, in stores! Ask beaders to tell you about their experiences with looms. Everyone has their own preferences, but by researching you will be able to limit your choices. One word of caution: more expensive isn't always better. A loom's price may not be indicative of its quality or suitability.
My Personal Favorites
I purchased my favorite loom for under $20 from Fire Mountain Gems a few years ago. At the time of this writing, they don't have another loom like it, but it is similar to this loom, although my loom has an adjustable length to accommodate very long projects. My loom about 12" wide, uses springs on a dowel (warp coils) to separate warps (different sizes of springs allow me to use any size bead, including 15s), with the option of tieing the warps on screws at either end of the loom or turning the screws to the inside so that I can form a continuous warp. I like to bead with the loom on a table and my work running vertically - my loom couldn't be used as a lap loom. What's on my loom wish list? The 22" Mirrix table ZachLoom. A bit of a price difference between my present loom ($20) and my dream loom (~$300), don't you think?
Nice Wooden Loom
This loom is nice because it is so wide! A wider loom can be used to make beaded bags and wall hangings in addition to larger necklaces. Of course, you can make bracelets, belts, and bands using this loom, too.
How to Weave Beads on a Loom
Do you have questions about beading looms or comments about this lens? You've come to the right place!