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Bead Loom Question

Q: I am interested in bead loom designs, and I want to try a few. I have not purchased a loom yet and would appreciate any input on what makes a good bead loom. I have seen very large wood looms for $40.00, and I have seen bead thread on a shoe box with a lovely bracelet in progress.

A: You should be able to find a good quality 2' or 3' wooden loom for about $20-$25. One place I know you can find this price and quality is Tandy Leather, which has stores all over the U.S. if I'm not mistaken. You might look them up in the yellow pages! Otherwise, I'm sure mail order places have comparable ones... If you are planning on doing smaller pieces (which makes sense in the beginning so you don't get overwhelmed) you can find very inexpensive and perfectly workable looms in craft stores and many toy stores. Since Native American jewelery is so popular looms are fairly common. Otherwise, a number of books on Bead looming give directions for making your own. I sent directions to my father and he made me a beautiful loom for Christmas including screws for stretching the spring to accommodate different size beads. It was amazing and even more so because he kept insisting he had no clue about what he was doing! I use cross stitch patterns, especially for fancy cross stitched orders as design idea so if you haven't found patterns you like and you are at a craft store you might wander down the needlepoint/cross stitch aisle as well. I have used the tiny Indian Bead looms you can buy at the craft shop; they are actually not too bad for small pieces (belts, etc.) because you can tighten the rollers easily. They tend to warp out of shape, though, and the size is a barrier. The best loom I've seen is from Garden of Beadin' has adjustable end pieces and appears to have a pretty good warp control mechanism. It's the $40 one you've probably seen. The worst loom I've seen is one I bought from UniSyn...surprisingly. It is just four cut pieces of two-by-two with some screen springs and a couple of eye bolts. $27. I find it unbelievably frustrating to warp and impossible to tighten. It has no flexibility in sizing and it's empty on the bottom.They suggest getting a piece of scrap board to nail to the bottom. I will probably send it back just to get it out of my sight. You could build something like that on your own. They do have great beads, though.