Discovering: Kumihimo

Did you know you can create your own customized fibre ropes and cords for bracelets, belts and necklaces? Imagine creating your own patterns in colours that will enhance your pendants and other focal pieces!

Kumihimo is a Japanese form of braid-making. Cords and ribbons are made by interlacing strands. Kumi himo is Japanese for “gathered threads”.

Traditionally, tools such as the marudai and the takadai were employed to make more complex braids in shorter time. Weighted bobbins or tama held the fibres, typically silk, in place as the braid was made. These braids can be round, flat, four sided and hollow.

The most prominent historical use of the cords was by samurai as both a functional and decorative way to lace their armour and their horses’ armor. Kumihimo cords are now used as ties on haori jackets and obijime, which are used for tying on an obi (kimono sash).

A modern kumihimo disc made of firm but flexible foam plastic with notches can also be used as a portable marudai. The discs have 32 notches that create the tension that is usually created by tama on a marudai. The discs are convenient but are not as versatile as the marudai.  The foam kumihimo disc is lightweight, portable, and significantly more affordable than the traditional marudai. You can create complex braids up to 24 bobbins and incorporate beads. There are many sizes and shapes of foam discs available. Look for a disc that is sturdy and doesn’t bend easily, otherwise the you will experience uneven tension.

You can use any fibre you wish on a foam disk – whether it is a single strand of satin cord or multiple strands of rayon thread. Different fibres will give you different results, textures and ‘feel’ to the resulting braid. You can even use wire! Experimentation is the name of the game! There are also various ways to finish the ends of your braids such as metal end caps or creating a fibre-based cap.

Upcoming kumihimo classes at BeadFX:

Wire Kumihimo Braided Bracelet
Cindy Goldrick
Saturday, March 16; 2:00 – 5:00pm

Beginning Kumihimo: Fibre and Beads
Instructor: Angela Peace
Friday, March 29; 5:30 – 9pm

Three Intermediate Kumihimo Braids
Angela Peace
Saturday, March 30; 9:30am – 12:45pm

Knotted End Caps
Angela Peace
Saturday, March 30; 1:30 – 5:30pm

Click on the class title to see more about the classes, including course description and applicable fees. You can also click on the instructor’s name to see more classes.

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