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Lauren Oberholtzer works on a loom rubber band bracelet at home in Casselton. David Samson / The Forum

Kids hooked on rubber-band loom bracelets

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accent Grand Forks, 58203
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

CASSELTON, N.D. — Lauren Oberholtzer’s fingers fly as she methodically weaves an intricate pattern out of colorful rubber bands.

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Within minutes the Casselton 10-year-old has created a fun, stretchy bracelet she will eagerly give to one of her friends.

The Rainbow Loom rubber-band bracelets are incredibly popular right now, said Brad Riepe, manager of Michaels craft store in West Fargo.

They’re a hit with both girls and boys ages 7 through early teen, he says, adding that even a lot of adults are getting into the craze.

“I’m wearing one right now,” he said during a recent interview.

The plastic looms on which the bracelets are woven sell for about $15 and the rubber bands, which Riepe says come in at least 25 colors sell for about $3 per package. There are also accessories such as charms that can be woven into the bracelets.

“They started being popular last fall through Christmas,” Riepe said. “They’re picking up steam again as Easter approaches.”

Three years ago, engineer Cheong-Choon Ng invented the Rainbow Loom after noticing his daughters knotting bracelets out of small rubber hair bands.

He made them a wood and push-pin loom to make it easier and then taught them how to create more intricate designs. His oldest daughter suggested selling it.

Rainbow Loom by Choon’s Design LLC has since won 2014 Best Toy of the Year, Activity Toy of the Year, and Girl Toy of the Year. Toy of the Year Awards are sponsored by the toy industry and winners were voted on by consumers, members of the association, retailers, journalists, bloggers, and academics.

The Rainbow Loom website, rainbowloom.com, has instructional videos on a variety of designs for bracelets, rings, charms and bag tags, from beginner through advanced level.

There are also numerous instructional videos on YouTube.

That’s where Lauren learned to make many of her bracelets. She’s also come up with her own patterns and has made 29 different styles so far. Lauren guesses she’s made hundreds of rubber-band bracelets since she started last fall.

“She’s very creative,” Lauren’s mom, Rachel Oberholtzer, said.

Lauren’s 7-year-old sister, Kate, likes making the bracelets, too.

“It’s fun,” Kate said. “I like putting different colors together.”

Both girls will eagerly spend hours weaving the brilliantly hued rubber bands into jewelry. They’ve also made necklaces and Lauren made an anklet and toe ring joined by a string of woven bands.

Rachel says the rubber-band bracelets seem to be this generation’s version of a friendship bracelet. She also says the looms and bands make for great birthday gifts.

“I love it because it keeps them off of electronic devices,” she said.

“It’s better than TV,” the girls’ dad, Todd Oberholtzer added.

Online: www.rainbowloom.com

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