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Kumihimo Braid

March 02, 2018

The evolution of my beading projects was sped up when I stumbled across a beadweaving technique called, Kumihimo. Before Kumihimo, I mostly worked on single strand wire or fishing line jewelry, but after Kumihimo, I was opened to a whole new world of beading!

This is one I made with varying sizes of beads to give it a subtle texture.  I also added an extra strand that I stitched to the Kumihimo braid with Swarovski® crystal beads to add a little sparkle. I love how simple and elegant it looks!

    

So what is Kumihimo? 

It is a Japanese beadweaving technique that uses 8 or more strands, called warps, and braids them to together using a Kumihimo Wheel, like the picture below.

A basic Kumihimo braid could be made simply with 8 warps of contrasting colours, but a more advanced version can be beaded or have extra warps. I was told to start without the beads when I purchased my Kumihimo wheel but I got ambitious and skipped that step with no problem.  I think as long as you have some beading background, you should be ok to move straight into using beads.

Kumihimo also has a square device for making flat jewelry, but I haven’t been able to create anything beaded with it, so we’ll just stick to the round technique.


Materials

Beads

I like to use beads that sit close together and are less beveled, like Toho seed beads or cylindrical beads, like delicas or aikos. If you look at the image of the video below, the beads don’t sit nicely against each other; this is because it was made with miyuki seed beads. Some people don’t mind this though – they say it adds texture, so it’s really up to you.

String

If you’re using beads, the string you use will depend on the size of the hole. I’ve included some ideas based on the standard sizing for seed beads. Crystals and pearls are all different though so you will have to decide project to project.

6/o or 8/o: 0.6mm S-lon string with matching or contrasting colours to your piece

11/o: 0.3mm micro S-lon string

15/o: I don’t usually go smaller than 11/o, but if you want to use 15/o, I would recommend using Fireline because even micro s-lon will be too thick.

Tip: use a flatiron to straighten your s-lon cord to make it easier to work with. DO NOT use  a flat iron on Fireline – it will melt.


Practice

I won’t actually get into the how kumihimo works but here are two resources I recommend to get yourself started:

Beadaholique has a great Youtube video to show you step-by-step instructions on how to make a great Kumihimo bracelet, and the skills are the same if you want to make a necklace – just longer.

 

I also stumbled across this link for a Kumihimo pattern design maker. You can change the colours of the strands to see what pattern will come out on your jewelry before you make it. This works the same if you’re using beads or not. I think it’s pretty neat!

http://www.lythastudios.com/123bead/kumiplanner.html


Tips:

Problem: One strand keeps laying inside the others so the work is not smooth
Solution: When moving a new string to the next space in the pattern, lightly pull away from the center and reinsert the string into the appropriate slot of the Kumhimo wheel. Try to keep the tension as even as possible when working with all of the strands.

 

If you have any questions or want me to write on a specific topic, let me know.

 

Keep on beading!

 

Cheers!

Melanie