CUMMINGTON -- Berkshire Trail Elementary School fourth-grader Keira Tuck sums up the rainbow rubber band loom bracelet trend simply and effectively: "They're addicting."
For three weeks in December, Berkshire Trail parent Shauna Pierce has led an after-school club to help channel students' creativity through the hottest 2013 crafting trend.
"They're stylish," says fourth-grader Brooklee Pierce.
"And they're fun to make," Tuck added.
"I'm covered head to toe in them, literally," said Allie Pierce, a second-grader, who revealed two wrists and two ankles stacked with a tie-dye of loom-made accessories, including bracelets of various styles, as well as rings. PHOTO Gallery:
The trend is credited to a Michigan-based inventor named Cheong Choon Ng, a Malaysian immigrant of Chinese descent who created what is now branded as Rainbow Loom, to impress his daughters. The current Rainbow Loom, and subsequent knock-off kits, include long rectangular plastic looms with weaving pegs, weaving hooks, clear plastic S-clips for closing the bands, and of course mini-rubber bands of all sorts of colors and styles, including glittered, glow-in-the-dark, and neon loops.
An NBC Today show contributor likened the bracelets to predecessors such as embroidery thread friendship bracelets, slap bracelets, silicone wristbands and the character-shaped Silly Bandz.
"My kids came home one day to tell me all about them and how they had to have them," said Shauna Pierce, Brooklee and Allie's mom. Now, the whole family makes them together.
Kids say they like to make them for themselves, to trade with friends, and to give as birthday and holiday gifts.
Single-strand bracelets can be made in a matter of minutes, but other styles, like the ladder, "zippy," triple single among others, can be more time consuming.
"It can be frustrating," said fifth-grader Phoebe Harrison. She said sometimes the rubber bands snap off the loom, break, get twisted or woven in the wrong pattern as can happen with knitting.
"If you have the time to work at it, it can be very focusing," Harrison said.
The bracelets are also gender-neutral, with both boys and girls, men and women seen sporting them. School and team colors have become popular makes of the loom bracelets.
Corey Sullivan, a Berkshire Trail fourth-grader, is currently the only boy in the club, but is nonetheless enthusiastic about learning the different patterns. He said he joined the club in anticipation of getting his own loom.
"I'm getting one for Christmas so I wanted to figure out how to use it," he said.
Club leader Shauna Pierce said the group has met after-school on Thursdays as a pilot. But with the popularity of the trend and the demand for students and parents, she said another session of after-school rubber band bracelet club meetings will begin in the spring.