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Monday, March 25, 2013

Bead Portraits on a Loom

I haven't talked much, about "Bead Loomed Portraits", but there is alot to discuss.

Recently, I have shared the fact I teach, 'weaving on a loom', at a local bead store, "Bead Soup", in Savage Mills Maryland. I've met some wonderful beaders who are now 'true' "Loomies"! I love when they write to me, asking my advice, or how to start something they have in mind. This particular student, Deb Crowe, wrote to me, with a photograph of family. They are getting married late summer, in Germany. She can't make the trip, but wanted to make something special, for them. She asked if I could create a pattern, of the wedding photo, in Sepia tones. Now, we all know how daunting this can be, but I accepted the challenge.

Of course, there is much to discuss, to offer the steps in creating a good bead pattern. I may get into those steps, as I decide to graph a portrait, myself. However, much stress comes, with the bead color selections, every bead pattern program offers. I touched on how a bead color journal should be created, in your program and updated as you purchase more beads. Here is the Blog Post I offered on this subject.

Moving past the color selections, I then widdle down the bead number, so the pattern will be easier to handle. Knowing this student only took one class, with me, I thought I would lay it out so she could not only read it well, but learn something too. I offered her the bead list, which I create, after playing a bit with the pattern. Then shared the 'color map' of 'each color', in the pattern. Here is a sample of the many frames I sent to her:

There are 14 color maps, total. One for each bead color I selected to create this pattern. I sent these to Deb, so she could have them on hand when she is buying her bead colors. I use these maps to double check my own thoughts, while buying the bead colors. This way, I can place each color, via the map, to denote if the color would work or not. It is easier to make color changes, at this state, then to wait and see how they look in a row of beads!

She also wrote, while warping the loom, if she could stop and start a new roll of thread. What she was warping, ran out. I told her to keep the loom warp bars taut, so they do not spin, keep a consistent tension on the warps, as you travel across the loom table and do not pull the warps too hard, or the warp tension rod will roll. This way, when all the warps are in place, tighten the warp tension bar and all will be good.

Her first few rows included some wavy lines. Again, let me share another Blog Post, where I offered some advice.

Other than a few other questions, from Deb, she is doing quite well! Here is a picture of how far she is now.

I also included she should let the beads breath, every 20 rows or so, by releasing the warp tension and retighten. Be careful not to allow any warps to leave their 'dents', but enough to relax the beads. This may sound funny, but it helps to postioin the beads. Even though they are Delicas and considered very even in size, there are some with various widths and edges.

You may notice, in Deb's picture, the 'bead stop', on the loom base. This is how I instruct a good start of weaving. The tail can be wound, in a bead stop, so you start the upper half, of the weaving, by turning the loom and having the thread attached already. However, at this juncture, I suggested she consider the ©Double Weft Method. I explained more about this in this Blog Post.

Finally, notice the loom, Deb is using. It offers a base with a felt lining. These are the looms I use, for my classes. Unlike other looms, these are able to sit in your lap, hold your supplies and the felt keeps them, from sliding around. As mentioned in my prior post, last week, this loom also offers my other suggestions, for a great loom:
#1 Budget considerations
#2 Warp Tension control availability
#3 Loom table size matching the beading.
#4 How you prefer to relax while looming.

I am hoping Deb will keep me up to date with WIP pictures (Work In Progress). She is giving me the 'bug' to start a portrait!!


  1. Thanks, Erin! Great post and a ton of helpful information for all projects. This is going to be a really special gift.

    Ready to learn more about portraits!

  2. I've been trying this in beadcreator6. Is it best to leave a picture at it's original size? When I reduce the size I lose detail sometimes. I wanted to do a face on a bracelet and the only way I could make it look ok was to cut out rows and get to the face. The was very helpful Thank you!

  3. This picture had much more background around it too. I made the decision to enlarge the face, front and off center, to make the details stand out more.

    Hate to sound this way, but this is another step to create a good photo cuff. Let me see if I can get something together, to share more info. Right now, however, I am finishing up things that are not allowing me time to start something new. As soon as I can, I'll post about it here, on my Blog.

    I would love to see what you are talking about too. Can you share a pitcure some how?

  4. Well....I must say you answered one of my biggest questions! What is WIP, now I know, thank you What a wonderful idea and what a wonderful job Deb is doing. I hope that I get to see it in person, it's really hard to imagine if you haven't seen one done before. Thank you for helping everyone create this wonderful projects....there's no stopping us now!!!

  5. LOL! Remember WIP! It is widely used with "Loomies"! Also, I'll share another.. "AYDY" (Are You Done Yet) :D

    It has been a wonderful experience, teaching in your shop and meeting your Customers. I look forward to meeting them all. Who knows, we may need a "Bead Portrait Class" to round things out!!

    OK, Deb.. AYDY?

  6. I've started loom beading a portrait of my grandchildren and came to a stand still when I realized the beads I had chosen for the skin tone is wrong. Yes it is in color. Probably should of started with black and white but didn't. what did I know. lol what colors would you suggest using for skin tones? thank you so much

    1. Wow, this post is from over three years ago!! I too have learned so much more, since then.
      Let me offer you a line of beads you can consider...GALVANIZED. They can offer a more subdued skin color. Just short of giving you the exact numbers, look them all over and decide. Also, be sure to read my post from 2010 where I talk about creating a bead color journal. Just go to my 'search' bar, upper right on my page, and type the word 'journal'. You will get options of where I used this word in my blog, but notice the title "Making a Bead Color Journal".