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To Rainbow Loom or Not to Rainbow Loom in the Library, That is the Question

Right now, my fascination with Rainbow Bracelets is the reaction to them.” 
—  The other day over at SLJ, Liz Burns was talking about Rainbow Loom bracelets.  In her opening line she says she is fascinated by the reaction to them.  I am too, because I think this is a possible case of hype.  You see, because of the hype, a friend bought my tween a Rainbow Loom.  She tried it once.  I have actually made several bracelets on them and wonder: how come they aren’t more popular with tweens and teens?  And that’s the thing – I keep reading that they are super popular (Buzzfeed has ran this and this article about them) – but I am not hearing this from the actual tweens and teens I know and work with.  I have seen zero of them wearing the bracelets.  And yet just last week Christie had a program where they made old fashioned bracelets using strings and beads and one of her teens was wearing like 20 of them to her Friday night program; so we know bracelets still have their appeal.

Here are a few reasons that I think Rainbow Loom programs aren’t happening in libraries (yet):

1. To make the bracelets, you have to buy the loom?  Theoretically you would need 1 loom for 1 or 2 people maximum.  That’s a chunk of change for a device that has a very specific use.  Plus, you have to buy the bands. (I have seen knock-off looms for $14.99, basic Rainbow Loom starter packages are priced around $24.99).  I imagine they are less popular in economically disadvantaged areas because of cost.  Replacement band packages begin around $6.99 for small bags and upwards of $20.00 for larger bags.

A knock-off loom, $14.99 at Toys R Us

Official Rainbow Loom Starter Kit, approximately $24.99

Edited to add: As the commentor below mentioned, you do not have to have the actual loom to make the bracelets.  Here are step-by-step instructions on making the bracelets without the loom.

2. It’s actually not as easy as they make it look in the videos (but there ARE tutorial videos).  Or else I really am that lame, which is always a possibility.  There is a learning curve, and my tween gave up quickly.  And it is less social than stringing beads because there is a certain amount of paying attention you have to invest in each project.  Trust me, one miss-loop and when you take your project off the loom it falls apart.  So it doesn’t lend itself to the social aspect of some other arts and crafts programs. Especially in the beginning.

3. If other programming librarians are like me, they probably aren’t hearing their tweens and teens rave about them the way that I am not, so there isn’t a lot of incentive to investigate.  In fact, I learned about the looms when a friend asked me about buying one for my daughter – not from my own tween, not from any of her friends that come over and craft almost daily, and not from any of the tweens and teens I serve at the library.  No, a friend who read all the Internet hype.  So again, I think the Internet hype may be more promotion driven than actual market driven.

Look – I made a Rainbow Bracelet!

In writing this out I asked my Tween, what are the most popular crafts at your school?  Not surprisingly she said: Duct Tape.  Also true at my library.  I asked her about Rainbow Bracelets and she said, “yes, there a few kids that wear them, but not a lot.”  None of this surprises me because when her friends come over, they spend their time making Duct Tape crafts and when offered the Rainbow Loom they are still choosing Duct Tape.

Buying 10 Rainbow Looms would cost around $160.00.  I’m not sure that is an investment I am ready to make for library programming when I can spend the same amount of money on beads, elastic cord, and memory wire and have proven results at this point. An official starter kit averages around $24.99.  I am definitely keeping my ears open to see if a demand develops, but there isn’t any in my area at the present time. (Edited on 10/29 to reflect less expensive ways to do the program w/o buying looms, making it more accessible)

How to Make Braceletes W/O a Loom
 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uysA5qpdV5A]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gL-xq9aodQk]

Is it just a girl thing?

As for the it’s a boy thing argument, I think we do sometimes fall into the trap.  But I have always had boys come to my bracelet/jewerly making events.  The Loom bracelets allow for the same customization and it can have a chainmaille looking effect, so I see it as having boy appeal as well as girl appeal. It is universally appealing.  See Boys Love Rainbow Looms.

I appreciated reading the SLJ article because it made me think about this, which I hadn’t yet.

Original Article : http://blogs.slj.com/teacozy/2013/10/28/rainbow-bracelets/

Comments

  1. You don't need a loom to make a rainbow bracelet–you can use two pens. There are Youtube videos demonstrating this. Also, I can get single bags of rubberbands for $3.99 at my Michael's store. I'm in the process of setting up a craft station in my library to make them.

  2. Thank you for this information. I edited the post to add a link to step by step instructions to do the bracelets without the loom.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would also like to add that I have been making Rainbow Bracelets with my teens/tweens with just a plastic fork. Remove the two middle tines, and it is perfect to do three simple kinds of bracelets. They hadn't heard of the Rainbow Bracelets before I started doing this, but they all have fun making them now!

  4. Rainbow Loom bracelets are SUPER popular with the elementary school kids in the library's area. Boys and girls have them running up and down their arms (very reminiscent of Silly Bandz). Before programs I will have several kids bring their looms out to work on bracelets before we get started. I haven't seen any kids older than Grade 6 wearing them, though.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Rainbow looms are insanely popular at my son's elementary school. I agree though, that investing in a fad is not a good idea for the library.

  6. Thanks

  7. If you really look at the bracelet stitches, it is basically a crochet stitch as far as I can tell. It is just really loose because it is made with a stretchy rubber band.

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