A loom enables you to weave multiple beads with a single stitch. Here are some of the most common styles of beading looms you're likely to encounter.
(Please click on any image below for a full-size view.)
Wire Frame Bead Looms
This style of loom is the most popular for beginners. It features a wire frame that supports two wooden dowels (called warp bars) and two metal springs (called warp coils).
Most wire frame looms are about 2.5 to 3 inches wide, which makes them just large enough for amulet bag panels and bracelet bands. These looms are very economical, typically priced between about $9.00 and $12.00. You can find them online, at big-box craft stores, and in most local bead shops. The loom shown on the left is produced by Beadalon.
Wood Fixed Frame Bead Loom
These looms are similar in design to wire looms, except that their frames are constructed of wood. This gives them a more solid, sturdy feel.
Many wood frame looms are wider than wire frame looms, which means they can accommodate larger beadwork designs. Models differ in their style of warp separator: some have metal warp coils or springs, others have a long metal bolt, and still others have cut-out notches.
The loom shown on the left, available through Beadlooms.com, is called a split level loom because the back of the frame is taller than the front. This enables you to work at a slight upright angle.
Wooden frame looms range in price from relatively inexpensive to very pricey, depending on quality and size. A smaller, beginner model may cost around $20.00, whereas a larger, professional model can cost over $100.
Adjustable Frame Bead Loom
This style of bead loom is designed so that you can elongate the frame and set it to your desired length. It's a good option when you want a compact loom plus the ability to create extra-long bands of beadwork, such as belts. Prices typically range from around $12.00 to $30.00.
There are several different styles of adjustable frame looms. One popular style is composed of two halves that slide in and out along a groove. Another consists of two frame ends that move along sturdy wooden dowels.
Continuous Warp Bead Loom
Continuous warp bead looms (also called Ojibway looms) enable you to create beadwork that is significantly longer than the loom frame. You warp them by wrapping the warp thread all the way around the loom frame, front and back, in one continuous warp. When your beadwork reaches the end of the frame, you slide the beadwork backwards onto the back of the frame to free up more warp thread.Prices of continuous warp looms typically range between about $12.00 and $30.00. They're usually constructed of wood, and notches in the wood serve as the warp separators.
Upright looms tend to be the most complex bead looms. As their name implies, they stand upright on your work surface. They are adjustable, have interchangeable warp coils, and work with lots of optional accessories.
The Mirrix upright loom shown on the left includes an accessory called a shedding device. This allows you to use heddles, which are commonly used for tapestry weaving (Mirrix looms are also tapestry looms). A shedding device and heddles can also speed up the process of beadweaving.
Upright looms are more expensive than basic bead looms, ranging from around $100.00 for smaller models to over $500.00 for very large models. You should consider investing in an upright loom if you want to create large, continuous sheets of beadwork or would like the ability to weave tapestry or wire with your loom.
Coming soon: Using a shedding device for loom beadweaving; sign up for the Beadwork Newsletter for updates.