The loom is intended for "6 and up," but Brycen, the aforementioned nephew, is persuasive, and in my family, there is always a fallback position: Joan will figure it out.
Sure enough, I stopped in for lunch to find the loom displayed on the dining room table. Bands had already been placed on the pegs, but neither the 4-year-old nor the 65-year-old knew what to do next.
I could mock my sister, who actually is quite a talented artist, but the truth is the instructions are less than illuminating. I think they were written in Martian and converted to English.
Because I do a lot of crafting, not to mention I was queen of the potholder loom, I was able to grasp the concept and finish the bracelet.
That turned out to be a tactical error. Once I had proven my worth as band bracelet maker, I was conscripted as the one and only band bracelet maker to the king.
From the bright pink box to the photos of girls with bracelets climbing up their arms, it would appear the target audience of the loom is girls, but all of the boys who play on the baseball and football teams his dad coaches are all about the band bracelets, too.
People who keep track of such things report that almost half of all Rainbow Loom sales are going to boys, and social media is full of posts from shocked mothers whose sons are begging for one.
The Rainbow Loom was invented by a former Nissan crash-test engineer, Cheong-Choon Ng, from Novi, Mich. He has two daughters who were making bracelets, but he couldn't quite master them himself. So the engineer part of his dad brain kicked in, and he designed the loom, which allows kids -- and aunts -- to create basic, as well as complex, bracelets.
It took a while for stores to see the potential, but when Michaels arts and crafts stores began carrying it in August, it flew off the shelves. More than 3 million of the original looms now have been sold, and it's a hot Christmas gift, selling for under $20.
The loom is simplicity itself, a rectangle with a series of pegs arranged in three offset rows. The bands look something like those used by orthodontists on kids' braces. They come in a variety of colors, and in an apparent nod to the boys, you can purchase black, dark blue and Army guy green right along with pink and purple. I know this because when I'm not filling bracelet orders for our little prince, I'm trolling Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Walmart in search of specific colors.
Oh, I complain a lot, but the truth is I enjoy making them. It also has opened a window into little Brycen's mind, and I find the view fascinating.
When we first started making bracelets, he would study the examples on the box and then order one up. I struggled with the more intricate designs, something I blame entirely on the poorly written instructions, but after ending up with handfuls of unconnected bands instead of a fancy bracelet, I realized he wasn't looking at the design, but the colors.
He has since moved from copying the color combinations to his own designs using a logic that, to me, indicates a higher level of thinking. At first, he wanted bracelets containing the colors of his favorite teams. I did an orange and black for the Giants, green and white for the A's, and red and gold (yellow actually because I can't find gold) for the 49ers. I strung football, baseball, basketball and soccer ball beads on the bracelets for special emphasis.
A couple of weeks ago, he ordered a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bracelet. I immediately started thinking of ways to string shells onto the bracelet, but no, he was talking about a bracelet that represents the turtles with their signature colors. We worked our way through the fearsome foursome and all the secondary characters and moved on to his stuffed frog (green, yellow, white and a touch of pink), my dog (black with a little white) and Santa (red and white).
When he came back from seeing "Frozen," he wanted a bracelet representing the snowman character, so at his direction, I did all white with a little black for the eyes and buttons, and orange for the nose. The boy's a genius, I tell you.
I'm excited to see where this band adventure takes us next, but I do have one regret. I really wish I had invented the thing. If Brycen were to design a bracelet for Mr. Ng, it would be all in shades of green.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
or 1700 Cavallo Road, Antioch, CA 94509.