February 15, 2017

Making Loomed Bracelets with a Ricks Beading Loom

For about 2 weeks now, I have had three beading looms warped and ready to go.  And there they sat.  Waiting.


Finally inspiration hit and I made bracelets using two of the three looms - the Ricks loom and the Mirrix loom.

Any idea which bracelet is made with which loom?  Well, if you are familiar with the Ricks loom, the answer is probably obvious.

It is more likely to be this bracelet because of the finish on the ends.

The main benefit to using a Ricks loom is that there are only two warp threads to weave in when you are done with your project. The other bracelet has a selvage edge and ribbon clamp finish, which is usually done on a traditional style loom instead of weaving in the warp ends.

When I get to writing about that bracelet, the article will be called salvaging the selvage because ugh!, I almost ruined it doing (or undoing) the selvage.

Back to the Ricks loom bracelet.

A couple of of other nice design features of the Ricks looms.  The loom has a slanted design that angles your project slightly and lessens the strain on your back looking down on the beadwork (sorry - no picture of that - so trust me).  It is adjustable by sliding the tail stock, made of sturdy wood and comes with a single set of spare parts such as the warp bars and pegs that hold the thread (although some people would argue that a pair of spares would be more effective).

Warping a Ricks Loom

Warping is pretty easy on all of the looms I've used so far. You just wrap the warp thread around one bar across and around the other until you have one more warp than beads in a row in your design.  In this scenario, I am making a beaded bracelet with 5 beads per row, so I need six warp threads.

The Ricks loom is actually even easier than most because there are no warp coils (springs) or separators to worry about - at least at this stage.

I used 6 lb smoke FireLine thread for the warps.  The only drawback is that I have to cut the thread off the spool before warping.  The way that the warp rods are set up, you can't fit the spool of FireLine around them.  You can fit smaller spools of beading thread though.

So, here's my full setup.  I have my beads in a nifty new beading tray that I picked up at a bead show in January, and my warped loom with a warp separator card, which you only need for the first two rows and replaces the warp coil on other looms.

A quick note about cutting the warp thread off the spool.  Of course, I cut off a piece of thread too short for the job.  Boogers!  I hate to waste thread (or beads, or time...).  Of course, I'll save that piece of FireLine as if it was a precious piece of spun gold.

Anyway, to calculate the amount of thread you'll need for a Ricks loom, take the number of warps (6) and multiple it by the length of your design (in my case 6 inches) and add the length for each of the tail threads (in my case 8 inches per tail thread which is 16 inches total). That leaves me needing to pull about 52 inches of FireLine thread (6x6 = 36 inches for the warps, plus 16 for the tails).

Too much math!

Since we beaders never really measure anything and do it by arm's lengths, I just measured what a full arm's length is for me.  It's just over 60 inches - so that's perfect.

A full arm's length is from fingers holding thread on one hand to the fingers holding thread on the other hand while they are outstretched from your sides.  Sometimes I think everyone knows this, but I hate when people assume things, so better to explain.  Of course, your wing span will vary by your height. (I'm on the tall side).

Designing Loom Patterns

The loom pattern for this bracelet was also designed and waiting for a while.

It's a simple diamond pattern done with Bead Tool 4.0.  You don't really need bead software - graph paper works great.  But bead Tool does allow you to use the software for free with some limitations, like you can't save and print your patterns, palettes and layouts.  If that works for you, download it and try it out.  Once you start trying it, it's hard to give up.  It's so much fun to play with the colors and make patterns.  Better than zentangles to me.

The part that actually took time to get started on this project was for me to go get the beads out of my stash.

Once I did, I put them in my new bead container - that's them lining the right side.  This nifty little container is meant for holding seed beads and is called a traveling bead board.  They're in the middle of the page at the link.

It comes with a lid that you can put on and take all your organized beady goodness with you.  The lid uses two clips, even though I have it closed with only one.

The little rounded sections make it easy to scoop the beads out with your needle - once you get the hang of it and stop stabbing the wall.  Honestly.  When you do stab the wall, the beads go flying everywhere - so you try to get the hang of it pretty quickly.

But I was talking about looming - right?

The first two rows of the Ricks loom are done above the warp separator card, then you remove it and slide them down to the warp bar.  This give you an idea of the difference with a Ricks loom - there's no warp thread ends for the middle rows, just the two on the side.

From this point, you just loom away until you get to the other end - and can't squeeze in any more beads. (and there's no warp threads at all on this end!)

And here's another difference with the Ricks loom, you need to know the size your project will be when you start, because it is going to be that length.  No adjusting!

So, this is where most people would remove the bracelet from the loom and adjust the rows of beads by pushing them up or down to cover that extra little bit of space left from the warp bars.

I didn't do that.

I decided there was just enough space here for me to fit in one more row - by adding it after the bracelet was off the loom.  It wasn't the easiest row to add, but I was right, and it fit (and it probably took me 20 minutes to add those five beads, so you have to wonder if it was worth it!).

Finishing the bracelet was relatively easy and quick - I just added small bead loops and wove in the two warps and weft thread ends.

I would add more pictures of the bracelet, but it's hard to photograph.  My bead choices give off too much reflection, so the pictures don't show the colors or pattern well.  Another lesson learned, I guess.  It looks good on though.

I've started another bracelet on the Ricks loom, same pattern, same size, different colors.

Next, I'll write about the other bracelet in the picture.  I love, love, love this loomed bracelet.  I had the best time making it since it reminded me of the game tetris by deciding what size blocks fit best in which gaps.  It looks fabulous on, so I almost cried when I closed the ribbon end on the selvage and it unraveled when I was finishing it!!!!

So, that story later this week.

More Info You Should Know

A couple of more things you should know - my Ricks loom (and a little Ricky loom) were provided free by the manufacturer.  It doesn't influence my writing about the loom though.

The travel bead board that I love - I bought that.  I wish they would send me a few for free (just putting it out there), but they probably won't so I'll buy a large one the next time I see them at a bead show.

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  1. I bought the Rick's bead loom a few months ago & have not tried it yet. I have never used the bead loom. Thanks for the inspiration. I am going to have to give it a try now. I have to look for a cute pattern first!

  2. the fasteners for the beaded bracelets is an excellent idea I have made lots of loom bands but have always used traditional thong ties for them,have made necklaces and bracelets with crab claw and bar and loop but never thought of trying it with loomed work

  3. Hi Lisa!

    So glad I found your site. I ran across something you made online and have been trying to find out where it is in a tutorial of some kind.
    Here's the page:
    Its the lovely piece at the top." Pick up five beads and stitch into the middle bead you just added. "

    Advice or link to where I can learn this technique? Its so pretty.

    Thank you so much!

    1. That is bead netting. It is usually used to make a collar. It looks difficult but it's really not. Here is a link to the tutorial. https://www.thespruce.com/african-net-beaded-lace-necklace-tutorial-4123654 Be patient and if something looks off, go back and recount your beads. It's always easier to fix the sooner you find it.