Bead weaving

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I was organising my bead work the other night and that lead me to remember that my brother used to love beads and bead weaving. He would do a lot of his beadwork on a bead loom like this on the right.

Bead looms and bead weaving

On a bead loom, a warp of threads is passed over the loom from end to end and tied off somehow. There will always be one more thread than you are going to use beads. That’s to say, if you weaving is going to be 10 beads wide, you’d need 11 threads.

I remember too that my brother always doubled the outside threads. So in this case you’d need 13 threads if you wanted to do that. The spaces in between the thread are where your beads are going to go. Rather than try and explain more, I’ll leave you with this video that I found on YouTube. The lady explains it well.

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bead weaving

Bead weaving is a traditional north American technique and not really used by African bead workers. Never-the-less, for you craft people that have arrived here looking for techniques, bead weaving is one.

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Seed beads are uniformly fashioned, spheroidal beads ranging in length from under a millimetre to several millimetres. “Seed bead” is a well-known term for any small bead, normally rounded in form but sometimes a bit tubular too.

Seed beads are most generally used for loom bead weaving non-loom weaving and appliqué work.

The largest length of a seed bead is 1° (“one-aught”, every now and then written 1/0) and the smallest is 24°, approximately the size of a grain of sand.

Most modern seed bead work is done using seed beads ranging in sizes 6°, 8°, 11°, 12°, 13° and 15°.

The very small holes in the centre of most seed beads means that stringing them normally calls for the use of a specialised long slender needle referred to as a beading needle.

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SEED BEAD SIZINGS
Aught size Diameter (mm)
6.5
6.0
5.5
5.0
4.5
4.0–4.3
3.4–4.0
2.5–3.1
2.2–2.7
10° 2.0–2.3
 
Aught size Diameter (mm)
11° 1.8–2.1
12° 1.7–1.9
13° 1.5–1.7
14° 1.4–1.6
15° 1.30–1.40
16° 1.25–1.35
17° 1.2
18° 1.15–1.20
20° 1.0–1.17
22° 1.02
24° 0.91

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