Unlike my last post, this one is NOT about my feelings – this post is about BEADS because omg, I learned something new, you guys. I taught myself how to use a Rick’s Beading Loom!
So, here’s an embarrassing story – I think I’ve had this loom for at least four years. And I just opened in this month. Oops! Beadsmith sent us a free one at work (Beads Direct USA) to see if it was something we wanted to sell and we ultimately decided against it because shipping something that big can be a big pain – but my boss said I could keep the free one that they had sent! I was super excited and then put it in my bead room and forgot about it for YEARS.
But my sister-in-law recently got into bead looming (the ONLY other beader in my family!) and I was inspired to pull this one out and finally give it a try.
I wasn’t super excited at the prospect of using beading thread instead of my beloved Fireline, but my recent obsession with fringe earrings has helped me get over that a bit. For these projects, I think I used S-Lon thread in size D for everything.
I haven’t tried a traditional loom setup, but it seems like the way you set up the Rick’s Beading loom is a little different and one of the bonuses is that you only end up with two warp threads. I haven’t tried the other method, but that sounded good to me. I learned how to set it up from this super helpful video.
Not too complicated, huh? For my first piece, I had a Beadslide clasp that I wanted to use, so I decided to use 8/0’s and do a super simple striping pattern so that I could focus on getting the technique right. It was really easy and worked up super quickly.
I did end up measuring the clasp wrong, though, so my Beadslide clasp didn’t fit until I added narrower rows to each side using regular old square stitch. Apparently, I needed to make the bracelet nine beads wide, instead of ten. It didn’t end up quite as neat on the ends as I would have liked, but it’s not bad for a first try.
I did really fall in love with the color combination. It’s just a repeating pattern of matte gray, pale yellow, light green, and matte silver, but I think it’s really pretty. I’ve got to remember to pair pale yellow with cool tones more often.
After that, I immediately dialed the difficulty level way up and decided to make a freeform piece incorporating leftover two-hole beads from old projects. It was MUCH trickier! I had to fit in three beads per warp thread, which made things a bit more complicated, without taking into account the extra work of keeping track of the two-hole beads.
The different sized beads made things a little lumpier than I generally like and I feel like I maybe should have used a thicker thread for the warp threads to give it a bit more spine. Also! Keeping patterns freeform is really hard for me. But I like how it turned out AND since it was three 8/0’s wide I was able to use my second Beadslide clasp properly.
She’s a little uneven, but it adds character, right?
After that, I decided I didn’t love working with 8/0’s (especially on such thin thread) and decided to try something with Delicas. I was hoping that more precise beads with a lower profile would make those edges a little neater. I arranged a little rainbow with the Delica beads in my stash and used some square stitch graph paper I got online to draw out a simple chevron pattern with a black border.
It was SO much fun, omg. I really enjoyed working with the Delica beads. It was slower than the 8/0’s obviously, but the neat way they stacked up together was incredibly satisfying. Watching it grow row by row was soothing to my soul.
I incorporated the little bronze dots into the black border because I knew the hardware was going to be antiqued bronze in color – that’s the only ribbon clamp that I had. I think it works nicely with the piece!
I’m not completely in love with the Rick’s Beading Loom. You have to know the exact length of your piece before you start and can’t adjust as you go, which can be annoying. And the method of stringing that allows you to end with only two warp threads leaves these tiny little thread loops on the edges. They get covered very easily if you use a ribbon clamp like in the center bracelet, but it kinda got in the way of the BeadSlide clasp on the other two.
But I’m also not super excited by the idea of weaving in a million warp threads after a project and this seems to be the best compromise, so I’m willing to work with it. I’m definitely interested in making more of these loom bracelets – especially now that I’ve discovered how much more I enjoy using the 11/0’s instead of the 8/0’s. I’m also curious about using a thicker cord for the warp thread. Stay tuned for more experiments!
Have you guys ever tried beadwork using a loom? What was your experience like?