I've been playing around with something that's new to me, kumihimo. I had been interested in kumihimo for many years. When the braiding technique first became popular in the U.S. the woman who owned a yarn shop in the area began offering classes. She also sold the equipment to create the braids. I always thought I would take a class, but the cost of the equipment was steep and I kept putting it off. Eventually, she sold her shop and the new owner didn't get involved with kumihimo. Fast forward several years and a very inexpensive foam disk for creating kumihimo braids appeared on the market. I had seen it at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for two or three years but I never bought one. Finally, last year I broke down and bought starter kit which included the disk, bobbins, and enough ribbon to make one braid, along with detailed instructions. The vendor who sold the kits, Oak Grove Studio, also had kits for kumihimo necklaces and bracelets made with ribbon and beads. Well, I had to have one! I mean they had beads included! I made the basic braid with the ribbon and liked the process. The disk made it very easy to figure out and it was very portable. But, I didn't work on the necklace kit until last month. What really spurred me on was that I bought another necklace kit at Sheep and Wool this year! I wasn't going to let a little detail like not working on the first one stop me! But, I thought I really should try making one of the kits. I began with the kit I bought this year. It used hand dyed silk thread that was comparable to # 5 perle cotton, and the new long magatama beads. This is the result.
The kit directions had you braid about 6 inches plain and then begin adding the beads. There was enough in the kit for a necklace and bracelet. Well, I was hooked. Once the beads are strung on the thread the whole thing is so portable. I could braid out on the patio, out on our back porch, anywhere! And, I thought it looked great.
I loved the way the smooth braid erupted into a cluster of beads. The bracelet has very little plain braid, just enough to allow the end caps to go on easily.
Well, I immediately decided I had to make the kit from last year. This kit had two types of beads and a beautiful nylon knitting ribbon. I decided I loved the ribbon color and the purple beads, but I didn't like the other beads that were included in the kit. The pattern for this necklace was plain braid with clusters of beads every two inches. I didn't have enough purple beads to use them alone, so I decided to make it the same way I did the first one. The beads in this kit were size 6 round seed beads, and the purple ones were silver lined, frosted beads, which I think are so beautiful. I once saw this finish referred to as "ghost" beads.
I really love the finished necklace.
Well, of course I was hooked big time now! I happened across directions on the Interweave Beading Daily newsletter for a bracelet done with wire and beads. I was intrigued. How would it be to braid with wire instead of yarn or thread? Had to try it! I really loved using the wire. I used 26 gauge Artistic wire in turquoise with size 6 seed beads. I thought the wire would be too stiff, or would damage the disk, but it worked like a dream. This is the wire/bead bracelet.
Kumihimo is now a permanent part of my jewelry making repertoire. I can see a lot of uses for it in mixed media pieces and on its own. It's a lot of fun to do, it doesn't take a lot of time to create a necklace or a bracelet and it's so portable once the beads are strung. Great fun!
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