Planning for Size and Weight of Neckpieces

In designing loomwork in general and neckpieces in particular, the piece must be structured to support the weight of the beads. This is especially true when doing split loom straps that are woven as part of the necklace. If there is too much weight in relation to the size and shape of the piece, either in terms of fringe, large beads incorporated into the piece, or the loomwork itself, then the piece may collapse. The Pastel Peacock neckpiece shown on page 46 needs more loomworked material at points

A and B lo give it enough body to support the weight of the fringe.

The structure of the necklace shown at right does an excellent job of distributing the weight of a heavy bead through the loomwork.

Using metal bars, rods, and tubes is an interesting way of adding support to a necklace and allowing the use of heavy feature beads and other design features that otherwise would not hang properly.

The necklace I call Construction shown on page 48 shows the use of a metal rod. The loomworked pendant and the straps are sewn around the bar, and to each other.

Lady Face 011 page 49 shows the use of a metal tube with the loomworked pendant wrapped and sewn around the tube. The strap in this small necklace is a braided cord.

The Golden Drape neckpiece on page 50 utilizes a flat metal bar sewn into the loom-work as support.

The Double Flap necklace shown on page 51 has the loomwork enclosing a '/4-inch square tube. The front triangle hangs % inch in front of the back triangle, giving the piece added depth.

Pastel Peacock. 8" x 18" plus lies.

Pastel Peacock. 8" x 18" plus lies.

Split Loom Straps

To weave split loom straps, you work the body first, then continue up the strap on the near side, turn the loom, and weave the strap on the other side.

Neck Width

You must consider how a neckpiece will hang on the body. Average neck width, or the distance between the straps, should be about four inches. The Pastel Peacock necklace shown at left is six inches between the straps. Reducing this dimension to about four inches would help the piece hang properly.

Too little space between the straps can make the straps deform as they spread to go around the neck. This will be particularly noticeable on a necklace with wide and/or short straps. One solution to this problem is to use non-loomworked straps such as strung beads, braided cord, or rattail.

You may also include sections of strung beads in the straps. This allows the strap to shape itself to any neck width. When working on the loom, these beads have to be strung on the warp threads while warping the loom, so you'll have to plan ahead as for the French Chain in the first chapter.

Strap Length

If you are designing for your own use you may make the strap length to suit your own needs. If, however you are not aware of whom the wearer will be or you want the necklace to be adjustable, you might use

Untitled. Feature bead by Jim Iones. 6"x 18".
Construction. Feature bead by Jim Jones. 6"x 12".

ties of woven cord or rattail. Adjustable ties make a necklace much more versatile. Otherwise, I find that about twelve inches is a good length for most loomworked straps.


The type of closure you use will influence the strap width and the shaping of the end of the straps. The length of the closure needs to be considered in determining the strap length.

It is a good idea to pick your closure before the strap is woven. The shaping of the end of the strap will depend on the type of closure, or conversely the type of closure will determine the shaping of the end of the strap. Some closures attach to a single- or double-bead point while others attach to a square end.

Bead Counts

When designing beadwork you'll need to know how many beads per inch there are for the bead size that you are using.

In calculating how many beads it takes to weave one inch in width you must consider the warp threads between every bead. Once you have determined the beads per inch you can determine how many beads high and wide your design will be.

The following bead counts are based 011 using size B Nymo warp thread.

Delicas 17 beads per inch in width, 15 beads per inch in height.

Japanese size 11 seed beads 16 beads per inch in width, 12 beads per inch in height.

Japanese size 15 seed beads 26 beads per inch in width, 15 beads per inch in height.

Czech size 12 seed beads 1 7 beads per inch in width, 15 beads per inch in height.

Because of the variations in actual size of many beads, you will have to experiment to get accurate bead counts. The Header's Companion (see Bibliography) is an excellent reference for additional information.


Whether you are graphing your design on true-scale or large-scale graph paper, you must remember that each square represents one bead, and your design must be laid out square by square.

True-scale graphing can be useful when you want to know the actual size of the finished piece. I find it easier to do the actual beadwork working from a large-scale graph. I use a copy machine to enlarge graph paper to 'A" squares on sheets that measure 11" x I 7". For large designs I tape together two or more sheets in order to graph out as much of the piece as is necessary.

Transparent graph sheets can be made on a copy machine and true-size sheets can be laid over a picture or an object to convert it to colored squares. You can make one transparent graph for each type and size of bead that you normally use.

Do not do unnecessary graphing! For a very simple piece, you may not need to graph at all. For symmetrical pieces, graph only half the design. If a design is very complex with lots of color and pattern changes, I write out the bead sequence, row by row, as follows.

Lady Face. 3"x 4" plus ties.

Lady Face. 3"x 4" plus ties.

Row 2: 6 pink, 8 puce, 4 black, 12 mauve, 9 black. And so on.

It's a good idea to write up all the rows at one sitting when you can concentrate. Using this system makes it possible to work faster and avoid mistakes when you get to the actual weaving—you don't have to take time to rethink and count every time you return to the work. 49

Designing on the Computer

There are several programs available thai will allow you to graph a design, color it in bead by bead, and get a row by row printout of the entire piece. While I don't work with them, I am told that these computer programs are relatively simple to use. Like many things in the world of computers there arc new programs coming all the time. You'll have to do a bit of research to find the program most suited to your needs and computer type.

The Fun Stuff

In the beginning we sel out to create a fabric by choosing bead color and texture, and we shaped the fabric by using various techniques. Now we can examine some further methods of creating different effects. Compare beading on the loom to playing the guitar. You can play a few basic chords or you can be another Segovia or Jimmy Hendrix.


Fringe can be the finishing touch that makes a piece really work. There are so many forms of fringe that it can take on almost infinite variations. Many of the works in the Gallery section on pages 71-105 illustrate the variety and impact of fringe.


Straight fringe is the simplest form and uses the warp threads. Center one strand of fringe under every bead in the bottom of the piece or perhaps under every other bead, depending on the effect desired or the materials used. If you are using a larger accent bead or picot at the end of the fringe, you may want to skip every other space or perhaps vary the lengths in a pattern in order to avoid a bunched up, overcrowded look.

You have two warp threads to use for each fringe at the outside edges of the bottom of a piece. You may use one warp thread for the fringe and simply sew the unused one into the work. The better way is to use both warp threads in the fringe which

Once you've added a strand of straight fringe, sew the fringe (warp) threads back into the work.

Once you've added a strand of straight fringe, sew the fringe (warp) threads back into the work.

will double the strength of the fringe. The third alternative is to take the extra warp thread clown into the fringe as far as possible, then bring it out of the fringe and trim flush.

Knotting fringe threads at the end of the fringe will make the fringe very weak and should be avoided. Instead the fringe (warp) thread should go back up through the fringe and be sewn into the work as shown in the illustration at left.

Kinky Fringe

This describes the fringe not the fringe maker. Kinky fringe can be at the outside edges of the work using the warp threads or it can be applied to the surface of the work

Kinky fringe acids depth to the work.

using a fresh thread introduced into the work. It is a useful tool for adding depth as in Hairy Chest shown on page 54. The figure at lower left shows the thread path used in creating kinky fringe. Kinky fringe can have bugle beads or other accent beads in some or all the legs.

Twisted Fringe

This type of fringe can give a piece an antique look and it adds great texture. To form, put enough beads on the warp thread to get the required length, add one or more marker beads which will guide you in the last step and which will be the tip end of the fringe, then add enough beads to match the length of the first section. Slide the needle down until the eye is about inch from the last bead then roll the needle between the thumb and forefinger to put twist into the thread. It will take about 100 rotations depending on the length of the fringe. Be consistent in the amount of twist in each fringe. Take care that the loose end of the fringe thread does not tangle. Grasp the point where the thread exits the last bead so you do not lose the twist. Pull the needle back up the thread a few inches, and while holding the twist in, insert the needle back into

the work <)ncl pull the end of the fringe up to the work. Grasp the marker bead or beads at the center of the strand. Release the fringe and it should twist up on itself. If the marker beads are not perfectly centered you can untwist the fringe and, while holding the marker beads, let the fringe re-twist. Sew in the fringe thread in the normal way.

Once you're satisfied with the twist, sew the fringe thread into the work in the usual way.

Flip the dangle around the string of heads to introduce twist into the first section of thread.

Try adding dangles to twisted fringe.

Flip the dangle around the string of heads to introduce twist into the first section of thread.

Try adding dangles to twisted fringe.

You may add dangles at the end of twisted fringe by threading them on as shown in the figures above. It will be necessary to flip the dangle portion around the string of beads about half as many times as the thread is twisted in order to introduce twist in the first section of thread.

Vertical Fringe

I call this Hedgehog fringe because of the tactile quality of the finished work. It adds a third dimension to the piece. Each stack of beads forming the fringe is held directly on top of the base bead. The figure at the top of page 56 shows the thread path. Varying the height of the stacks of beads can give a sculpted look. This is a very simple fringe but can be difficult and tedious if the whole piece is covered.

The beads in the base need to have large holes because there will be many threads passed through each of them. I recommend using Delicas for the base. The type and size of the beads in the fringe will affect the tex-

ture of the finished work. A looser texture can also be achieved by skipping some of the base beads.

L wb wb áuiÉ wa É|á é\é é¡m á)f4k i w wp ÍÍP PW WP WP '

For vertical fringe, each stack of beads is held directly on top of a base bead.

For vertical fringe, each stack of beads is held directly on top of a base bead.

Curly Fringe

This fringe is easy to make and gives an effect similar to kinky fringe. Take the return thread back into the work and pull tight to

For curly fringe, pull the thread tight to form bench where the thread goes outside the beads.

woven, or it can be added after the piece is woven, either on loom or off loom. One thing different about edge fringe is that the beads are orientated in the same direction as the beads in the body of the piece. The figure below shows the thread path for adding fringe to either side while the weaving is being done. Edge fringe can be added after the weaving is complete by introducing a new thread and adding the fringe in the same manner that end fringe is added.

Edge fringe may be added to either side as the piece is being woven.

create the bends where the thread goes outside the beads. The tightness of the bends is determined by how hard you pull.

Edge Fringe

Fringe coming out of the edge of the weaving can be done while the piece is being


Dangles are fringe with muscle. A series of large accent beads or a large bunch of small beads can be used independently or in conjunction with regular fringe of some sort. Dangles are usually attached at corners

Southwest Construction. 6" x 15".

and points as in Southwest Construction shown at left to provide an accent. Dangles work best in odd numbers.

Negative Space

You may want to leave an opening in the woven work to display a feature bead or leave vacant to add emphasis to your design. Most of the problems involved in doing this deal with the need to sew in the exposed warp threads that result when the opening is created. There are three methods to accomplish this effect. Often more than one method will be used in the same piece.

Interrupted and Supplemental Warp

When you come to a point in the weaving where you want to leave an opening,

Leave a negative space by cutting the warp where you want the opening. Leave enough thread to sew back in to the weaving.








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Leave a negative space by cutting the warp where you want the opening. Leave enough thread to sew back in to the weaving.

School of Fishes. 8" x 21". This neckpiece uses both interrupted/supplemental warp and the pull and pray methods to create negative spaces.

Sew the cut warp threads hack into the work.

Introduce new warp threads to replace those you cut.

Continue weaving on the near side of the opening to the point where you want the opening to end.

Introduce new warp threads to replace those you cut.

one of the methods you can use involves interrupting, or cutting the warp where you want the opening. You will cut the warps far enough from the weaving to leave a thread long enough to sew back into the weaving. When you cut a warp thread, tie off the loose end that's away from the work at the end of the loom to prevent some other warp thread from sagging or coming loose. You should also sew in the cut warp at this point. Then proceed to weave the material on the near side of the opening up to the place where you want to end the opening. At this point you will add supplemental warp over the top of the weaving to replace the warps previously cut. You can then continue weaving across the entire width as

Continue weaving across the entire width as before the opening.

before the opening. There will be a section on the away side of the hole that is not woven. This weaving can be completed at any time. I usually wait until all the weaving on the near side is completed then turn the loom around and finish up any unfinished areas of the opposite side.

Pull and Pray

Another method of leaving an opening involves leaving the warp threads in place but simply not using them. When the piece is finished and cut off the loom you will pull the warp threads through the piece creating a loop that can be cut in half leaving two threads long enough to be sewn back into the weaving.

There are several things that can cause you grief in doing the Pull and Pray. If you have speared any of the warp threads while weaving, then the warp will not pull through. If you know that you will want to use this method, you should check each row for speared warp threads while weaving.

If you didn't leave enough warp thread at the end of the piece you will not have comfortably long threads to sew back into the weaving. This is where a short sharps needle comes in handy.

If your opening is very far from the ends of the piece, you will not be able to pull the warp threads through the weaving. This is where the interrupted, supplemental warp method would work better.

Distorted Warp

A third method of creating a small open area is to simply pull the warp threads aside

Create a negative space by pulling the warp thread aside as you weave.

to leave an opening. This can be used for incorporating a larger bead into the fabric. This is not as neat as using the interrupted, supplemental warp method, because it leaves exposed warp threads at the sides of the opening. Holes involving more than two warp threads should be clone with the interrupted, supplemental method.

Mixing Bead Sizes and Types

It is possible to mix bead sizes within a piece in a number of ways. Keep in mind that you want the work to be even, without large irregularities in shape.

One way is to mix bead sizes in alternate rows. Warp the loom for the widest beads, then choose combinations of smaller beads

Mixing beads of different sizes creates an interesting texture.

that equal the width of a large bead. This can create an interesting textural effect.

Mixing slightly larger beads into a weaving is not a problem if they are incorporated on the diagonal or in a random manner where the extra height or width of the larger beads averages out within the height or width of the weaving. It may be necessary to use some narrower beads around the large one to keep the edges of the work even.

If the larger beads are placed in a vertical stack there will be a vertical deformity in the work that is usually undesirable.

Bugle beads or other taller beads can be incorporated into the weaving by interrupting warps then weaving in the larger beads on the weft threads. (See Art Deco 1 on page 41.) Wider beads can be incorporated by using multiple rows of weaving for each bead.

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