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Finishing Loom Woven Beadwork Jewelry

checkerboard braceletIt was suggested to me that this is a topic of interest to many bead weavers.  I have to confess, I am writing this from the cockpit of a sailboat boat (husband’s midlife crisis was to fix up a salvage /wrecked sailboat . . .I think he had fantasies of us selling our house and sailing the world on it, or some such notion, forgetting that I can’t fit Mirrix on a boat despite the three little cabinets he reserved for that purpose.  What a hoot!  In any case, I am putting in my three days.)  I only mention this tidbit of personal information because the only loom I have with me (and of course I have a loom with me!) has a tapestry on it which needs another four hours or so to finish and I have no bead supplies here so, in short, I can’t take pictures of finishing bead work because I don’t have any.  I am hoping I can troll the Mirrix website, my photos on this computer and the internet to find some suitable pictures to accompany this piece.

I am the perfect person to talk about finishing bead work because I have spent years figuring out how not to, at least how not to in the usual sense.  The method where you cut your piece off the loom and weave in ten thousand warp ends . . . well, for someone who hates to thread a needle because she just can’t seem to do it well or fast or without screaming a few choice words, the idea of threading and rethreading a needle in order to sew those ends back into the beads of a woven piece . . . I have to confess, I have never done it and I never will.  I can’t imagine with a wide piece how it is even possible to find beads after a point in which to shove all that thread.  I know, I know, there are plenty of people who do it, and the more power to them, but I am not one of them.  It’s like when people see one of my tapestries or bead pieces and say:  “Oh my gosh, you must have so much patience to do that!”  Which is a little strange, if you think about it, because if it required “patience” to create art I am not sure I would create art.  Patience sounds like work and creating art is anything but work (most of the time . . . except when sewing in a bunch of warp threads!).  But I imagine there are people who find sewing in warp ends cathartic, just like I find spinning cathartic and that certainly is not for everyone.  In conclusion:  I am not going to address sewing in warp ends as an option because I am the last person to steer you correctly on that subject.  Rather, I will present to you all the many ways I have found to NOT sew in warp threads.

No Warp-Ends Kit

I am going to start with the most relevant way.  On Tuesday last Elena and I had the pleasure of teaching a webinar for Interweave Press.  It took a lot of prep work, but the actual presenting was a lot of fun.  Jennifer  of Beading Daily fame was our mentor in this project and although it would have been beter to get to see her live and in person, it was still nice to hear her voice live!  The webinar was about using the Mirrix No-Warp Ends Kit to weave a checkerboard cuff bracelet a kit we sell exclusively through Interweave Press.

There were 16 warp threads which would have meant 32 warps threads to sew in.  We were left with only two.  While I am at it, I am going to give you a link to that webinar.

How does this magic work?  With the help of a could of thin  bars, some S-hooks and not a whole lot of patience you warp the loom such that you put on exactly the length of warp you need.  When you are done there is only the beginning and end of the warp thread to weave in. The rest exists as loops which kindly slide between the end beads.  We’ve trimmed this piece with pico stitch (which I like doing).  The clasp is a button because while we wove the piece we created a button hole.

Here is another example of a bracelet made with that kit:  Mirrix No Warps to Weave in Bracelet kit.

Method one for not having to weave in warp ends:  don’t create any!

Method two for not having to weave in warp ends:  make the warp part of the design.  I really love doing this.  Use a thicker and pretty warp thread and allow it to show both around the beads and at the ends.  This makes a funkier kind of piece, but I love them. We call them wrap bracelets because you can make them one, two, three, four or more wraps.  (By the way, we just passed under one of those cool bridges that lifts in the air so our mast doesn’t get knocked off when we go under.)

Below is not that particular kit, but an example of a wrap bracelet using those very cool two hole beads (a bunch of different kinds) on a hand painted silk warp

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And another one . . . this one using tile beads and duos (the ones on the edge) plus some porcelain beads and a pewter button.

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Above piece still on the loom.

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If those two options don’t appeal to you, there is always the tried and true third method which allows you to warp the Mirrix loom in the normal fashion, but eliminates the need to sew in warp ends by simply tying them off, sticking them behind the piece and sticking the piece on some kind of cuff.  For example, a piece on a leather cuff.

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Some other examples of beaded work attached to a brass cuff.

gold crystal cuff

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In conclusion, if you are like me and refuse to sew in a bunch of warp ends when you find yourself at the end of your piece, there are a bunch of creative ways to either eliminating warp ends completely or bury them underneath your piece and incorporate them in to the piece as a design element.  I am sure that we will all discover more and interesting ways to avoid the warp end dilemma.  If you have ideas of your own, please tell us about it in the comments section.

One Response to Finishing Loom Woven Beadwork Jewelry

  1. Linda - Reply

    August 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Just wondering where you are currently sailing. I’ve spent most of the past 6 years on our sailboat and have probably encountered every inconvenience that a cruisers life has to offer.
    http://www.savedbyart.com/onedaydesigns

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