Monday, November 2, 2009

Bead Weaving With Children

This is an adaptation of an American Indian skill. To do your own bead weaving, you need:

black plastic lacing (used for making lanyards,)
black crochet thread
pony beads
a shoe box

Examine how big the pony beads are. Now cut four slits in one side of the shoe box, each a little more than a pony bead wide. Cut four more slits opposite, on the other side of the box. Make one extra slit to fasten in the knotted end of the plastic lacing.

Now make your warp. Leaving a long tail of the crochet thread, wind the thread around and around the box through the slits which face one another. Tie the ends together on the side or underneath the box.

Tie a knot about 3 inches from the end of a long piece of plastic lacing, and slide it onto the extra slit. It will be your woof thread.

Now think about your design. Do you want a random design? Do you want to make vertical, horizontal, or diagonal stripes? Do you want to make checks?

String three pony beads onto the lacing, like this girl below is doing. Push the beads down to the loom.

Put the end of the lacing UNDER your warp threads and pull it all the way through.

Look below to see the girl's first row of beads, and the second row ready to weave. She has positioned the beads between the threads, and is holding them up with her hand.

While holding them up, go back through the beads with the lacing, OVER the warp this time. Pull the lacing all the way through the beads for a smooth edge.

Keep going until it is as long as you want it.

If you are a preschooler, you can have fun stringing beads on the lacing while the big brothers and sisters are weaving.

When you have woven as much as you want, cut the warp threads under the box, and knot the ends close to the beads to keep your weaving together.

What are you going to do with your bead weaving? Make a bracelet or a key chain? Or something else?

The boy in the picture below is playing with his string of beads, whirling it around himself.

If you are in fourth grade or older, you can do much more complex and authentic bead weaving, using small glass beads, warp and woof made of the crochet thread, and a narrow embroidery needle to push the woof through the little beads. With a parent's help, you can make a stronger bead loom by using a saw to cut slits on a wooden clementine box. You can also put more threads in your warp, to accommodate many more beads. You can make complex geometric and pictorial designs. Look at some old photographs of American Indian clothing to see some wonderful examples of bead work.


Hullabaloo Homestead said...

Thanks Beth! This is a great idea, to use a box to create a small loom. I remember when I was a kid I had a bead loom. We get together with other homeschooling/unschooling families near us and this would be a great project for all ages, like you mention. Thanks for sharing.


Beth said...

I'm happy you are going to be able to do this with a will be fun! Beth

Unknown said...

This is great! Do you mind if I add this as a link on my blog in my side bar? Shoot me an email and let me know if it is OK to link!


Lisa said...

I can't wait to try this! Both my kids will love doing it. And so will I!!!

kate said...

Oh, what a great idea! My boys would love to learn this as part of their holiday crafting!