Also known as the Indian Bead Loom
, the bead loom is a device used to make artwork with glass bead
s. It is probably named a loom because it, when set up resembles a fabric loom
with several parallel strings running the length of the loom.
There are two types of commercially available bead looms that I have seen. One is sold at Boy Scout camps and some western hobby stores, like Tandy Leather as an Indian Bead Loom. It is about 12 inches long, and 3-4 inches tall. It resembles a trapezoid, open at the top and the two frames are connected at the upper points making it about 4 inches deep. The connecting bars are covered with springs, and the upright legs hold wooden dowels, designed to hold the ends of the beadwork. This type of bead loom is cheap, but not a very good one. The winding rods do not tend to hold the strings tightly enough to make quality beadwork.
The other type is much better. It consists of two boards held apart by two dowel rods, and is adjustable for length. Springs across the top of each board separate and hold the strings in place. I have a homemade loom based off this type, capable of doing a piece three feet in length and a foot across.
A bead loom works by threading glass beads between parallel strings, and locking them into place, usually with a beading needle. To give an idea of how this happens, a bead is between two parallel strings. Passing through the center of the bead are two more strings, but one string lies above the parallel holding strings, and the other lies below. When strung tightly and done well, the resultant piece of beadwork holds beautifully, and is as strong as a knit shirt.
Beadwork is commonly found as part of southwestern United States style clothing.