Tutorial: how to use the Virtual Bead Loom
Basic Concept

The Virtual Bead Loom simulates the same grid pattern as the traditional bead loom. Users place colored circles in columns (the Y-axis) and rows (the X-axis):

Traditional beadwork


Virtual beadwork


How to use the tools

There are several tools for placing beads on the virtual loom. In each case you use the "tab" key or the mouse to move your cursor to the field for entering the coordinates, then you enter them, and then press the button for the shape tool.

The point tool places a single bead:

The line tool places lines of beads. You specify the two endpoints of the line. Diagonal lines tend to be jagged, but resizing the grid can help that (see "right-click menu" below).

The rectangle tool fills in a rectangle of beads. You specify two vertices. The rectangles of this tool are always aligned with the axes.

The triangle tool fills in a triangle of beads. You specify the three vertices.

The iterative triangle tool: When we created the geometric triangle tool, we used a standard "scanning algorithm" to fill in the triangle. But it made jagged edges, while traditional beadwork has beautifully regular edges. We interviewed some native beadworkers, and found that their algorithms were iterative. The triangle iteration tool reflects this tradition of indigenous mathematics. For example, the triangle in the beadwork at the top of this page was made by adding one bead on each side of the row, every three rows, as you go in the -Y direction.

"Direction" -- determines in which direction your rows will accumulate

Start X,Y -- that is the center of the starting row.

"Add to row ends every___ rows" --  lets you determine how many rows you go through before adding more beads to the end.

"Number to be added at ends" -- the number of beads that will be added on each side of the center each time.

"Total rows" -- how many rows you will bead in this triangle.

"Color" -- Since some traditional bead work shifts color in each iteration, we included a "Color" parameter to determine how much the bead color shifts (0 is no shift).


Other operations

There are also controls that apply to all the tools. "Clear Grid" deletes everything. Normally "fill" is selected, so that your tools will fill their specified shape with beads. You can also select "delete" and have the tool erase all beads in the specified shape. The color buttons allow you to select the bead color. By left-clicking on the "Current Color" bar you can custom-specify your own bead colors. A readout for the cursor position appears below that bar. 



By right-clicking the mouse on the grid, you can resize it to a smaller grid or larger grid -- maximum size is 150 by 150. The right-click menu offers other useful options: the most important is "Undo." "Save" does not work yet, but you can get a nice color printout:

Printing: after you have your design completed, press the "print screen" button on your keyboard (usually located above the function keys). That will save an image of the entire screen to your clipboard. You can then paste the clipboard image into a blank canvas in Photoshop, Imaging (comes free in the "Accessories" folder in Windows) or other image processing applications.


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