This list describes the most important components of a basic bead loom. You'll see these parts referred to often in loom beading tutorials.
Over time I'll amend the list to include more of the specialized parts that you'll find on upright professional looms, such as Mirrix looms. Be sure to sign up for the Beadwork Newsletter for updates.
(Please click on any image in this article for a full-size view.)
The frame is the structure that supports your thread and beadwork while you work. It is the largest and most integral component of any bead loom.
Tip: When you're just starting out, you can experiment by making your own loom using a cardboard box or picture frame as the loom frame.
In the example on the left, the loom frame is constructed of wood. Many affordable beginner looms have heavy wire frames.
A warp separator is any device that holds and evenly spaces your warp threads. In looms that have them, warp separators are typically positioned along the tops of both ends of the loom frame.
Styles of warp separators vary from loom to loom. The most common style is called a warp coil or warp spring. You can also find looms with long, threaded bolts, plastic combs, or carved notches as warp separators.
Some looms have interchangeable warp separators, and others do not. With an interchangeable model, you can select the most appropriate size of warp separator (usually described by dents per inch) for the size of beads you intend to use. This helps to keep your beadwork looking neat and even. Non-interchangeable models are usually designed to accommodate size 11/0 seed or cylinder beads, but you can always use larger beads by skipping warp dents when you warp your loom.
Warp Thread Stopper
Some looms that use warp coils come equipped with a bar (usually made of metal), called a warp thread stopper, that you can slide into the coils after warping your loom. This gently holds the warp threads in place and prevents them from slipping out of the dents accidentally.
The warp thread stopper shown on the left (also called a spring bar) is for a 16-inch Mirrix loom.
Warp Tension Controls
The most basic styles of bead looms are equipped with two dowels which serve as warp bars. You tie your warp threads to the warp anchors on these bars (which are typically bolts or nails), and then rotate the bars to set your warp thread tension. These are useful features, because correct tension is a big factor in achieving professional looking results with your beadwork.
The warp bars on basic bead looms are usually locked into place by wing nuts on the sides of the loom frame. You loosen the wing nuts so that you can rotate each dowel, and then tighten each wing nut to preserve the warp thread tension.
In certain upright looms, such as Mirrix looms, you anchor your warp threads by wrapping them around a single warp bar on the back of the loom. When you warp the loom, you use the warp bar to change direction and bring the warp thread back to the front of the loom. We'll explore this process, along with the other important parts of upright looms, in upcoming tutorials.