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December 05, 2016

Leather Bead Bracelets on a Loom

I'm late to the party on this one.  The leather bead bracelets I'm making right now are Chan Luu style leather wrap bead bracelets, With only a single wrap for now.  But I say I'm late because they've only been popular for what - five years?

chan luu style beaded bracelet

I've actually made one or two of these before, but I've never really loved the commonly accepted methods of making leather bead wrap bracelets using a clipboard or the plastic loom, so I've never pursued it more.  It works, it just takes longer.

But now I have a loom.  A REAL loom.  A mirrix loom, which I dare say, is the crème de la crème of looms.  

Technically, it's on loan from the incredibly helpful folks at Mirrix who probably tired of my questions related to using their looms  for the beadwork site and figured I should try it out for myself and take my own darn pictures.  And so I will!  

It is their 8" Lani Loom Model with the shedding device (although the shedding device is not pictured).

This Mirrix loom is as functional as it is pretty.  But, I'll get into all of that another day. 

I've been dying to make something with it, and wouldn't you know my computer was out being serviced when the loom got here, so I couldn't use my bead software (BeadTool 4, if you're wondering), to make a pattern.

The leather bead bracelets are simple because it doesn't involve multiple warp threads between the beads (the leather is the warp threads) and I chose simple vertical or horizontal stacks of colored beads as a design.  Even better, I had chosen these beads for another project that never came together, so rather than stress about the colors, I just grabbed them

leather bead bracelets on a loom

Since I'm practicing, I grabbed some of the economy leather cording I have on hand.   There's nothing wrong with this cord, but if you are going to make and sell a lot of these bracelet, Leather Cord USA has every color, size, and style imaginable.  And their quality is incredible.  

how to straighten leather cord

If you're going to use the type of cord I have (it's from Michael's), you need to straighten it out because the kinks will not come out on their own.  Like other types of cords, I iron it to get it straight.  

My process: set my iron on high, set it down on a washcloth and pull the cord under the heated iron.  It takes about three passes to get it straight enough.  It does leave a little dye residue on my wash cloth and can burn the cloth if you don't lift the iron or move it during the process.  Aside from that, I haven't noticed any issues as far as the leather goes.  

making leather bead bracelets on a loom

Normal warping on a loom wouldn't have worked, so I just added a button to the end of my leather cord and taped it to the bottom of the loom with painters tape.  Perfect!  OK - maybe not perfect, but it works great.

how to make leather bead bracelets on a loom

I put the warp bar on the front of the loom and wrapped the leather around that. (Normal looming would have the warp bar on the back).  I knotted the end of the leather cord (which has about 2 inches more leather than I need for the bracelet) and then added some scrap cord to tie it around the top of the loom.  I wrap it around the warp bar to align the leather properly for weaving and also because it gives a natural space between the leather cords which is just perfect for adding the beads.  

I hope it doesn't sound complicated.  It's actually the easiest thing on earth and took 2 minutes.  The best part, is that once it was done, it was super simple to start weaving the bracelet.  Below is my first completed bracelet.

make chan luu style leather bead bracelets

And another view of my first leather bead bracelet using a loom.  

make chan luu style leather bead bracelets

I had to scrap my first attempt because the bead rows were spaced too close together and the beads were bunching up and sitting right on top of each other.  I've read that it's a common problem.  You need to get used to the spacing when you first start looming.  It's probably more of an issue for people using the information clipboard set up for weaving since the leather cords may not be taut or secured evenly.

For my second bracelet, I used the same colors, and changed to horizonal rows of colored beads instead of vertical rows.  Simple, but pretty.  I also made it adjustable by using two loops at the clasp.  This time, I may have left a little too much space between the rows of beads - but it looks great on.

make chan luu style leather bead bracelets

One thing I'm lacking is a good selection of buttons for this type of bracelet.  I've got a lot of the heart buttons on the first bracelet and a few of the shell flowers.  I picked up a few more at a bead show this weekend and I'm already kicking myself for not buying more. (Isn't that the way it always is!)

The middle bracelet is an evil eye beaded bauble I made a while ago.  I don't think I've ever published instructions for it, but I will.  It's one of my favorites.

leather bead bracelets

Here's a better look at the evil eye bracelet and the beaded centerpiece.  The center bead is a cat's eye glass bead, so in the right light it has that great shimmer when the light hits it.

beaded evil eye leather bracelet

I guess that's it for today.  I've set up my loom to make another bracelet with the large stash of crystals I purchased at the bead show this weekend.  I think I got 25 strands and I'm kicking myself for not buying more of them too.  Gosh, I'm such a bead hoarder!

Here's one more look at my bracelets. 

making leather bead bracelets on a loom

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  1. I love the look of the evil eye. I hope that you post the tutorial. If not can you email them to me?

    1. I'm working on it. Hopefully I can post it later this week.

  2. I have tried making bracelets like that with absolutely no luck. I think the loom was the missing piece of the puzzle. I don't have access to a Mirrix one, but I can probably rig something up with my cheap craft store one. Thanks for the idea!

    1. I've tried it before too and they came out wonky and were difficult to make. This is soooo much better. But I also like this loom in particular because it has a stand and I don't have to lean over it or prop it up in any way. Much easier on my back!

  3. I currently use the clipboard method, but I make mine that wrap several times so they are much longer. Would this loom still work when making multi Wraps?

  4. I make wrap bracelets using the clipboard method, but mine are much longer because they wrap several times. Do you think using this loom would work for that since it would be much longer?

    1. I will have to try it - I am pretty sure the Mirrix loom will work for this, but not the way I have warped it for this project (since it cannot be shifted around the loom).