Navajo artist Devin Edison relates loom beading to designing and weaving a rug. The design is laid out in much the same way as for a rug, and the idea for the pattern is taken from something in life, in the world around us. The most popular designs for loom beading, as for rug weaving, are geometric ones.
Beading looms come in different sizes and styles. They consist of metal rods with coils at the end. Thread is looped around the coils and strung across the rods, then beads are added to create the design. The technique began among the Plains tribes around the 1600s. Today looms can be purchased or custom made by the artist. Some are passed down in the family, as was the one Devin created hat bands on. It was a gift from his aunt.
Most bead artists today use seed beads on their looms. These small glass or
plastic beads come in a variety of colors and patterns and are quite popular. In ancient times, shells or stones were used for beads. Some beaders, according to Devin, use the beads and their design to tell a story, with each bead having its own story and place. Pieces such as necklaces, bracelets, hat bands, belts or adornments for leather bags can all be created on a loom. Today most bead artists sell the pieces they create on looms at powwows or other events.