Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to make Kumihimo bracelets

As promised, here a small post about how I make my kumihimo bracelets.

Kumihimo is actually the art of braiding (silk) strands into braids and comes from Japan. If you want to know more, you can go here. Enterprising western companies have come up with an easier way of braiding though, offering Kumihimo discs made of thick hard foam and ready made patterns that are fairly easy to follow. At least *some* of them are. ^^ I'm currently trying to puzzle out the cord sequence for a new pattern, and I haven't quite gotten it yet... *ponders*

But, back to the bracelets in the shop.

After I've chosen the pattern, I choose the cords. I work with 1.5 mm satin cords that are very nice to braid with. They're very smooth and reflect the light nicely. I have a whole basket full of cords, so I can mix and match according to either my personal likings, or those of my customers.

As you can see, these are the colours of the Halloween bracelet that's listed in the shop.

After I've measured them, I half them and tie them together in the middle.

Then I thread them through the Kumihimo disk. Now the threads have to be braided together according to the pattern on the disk. A simple bracelet of a length of approx. 20 cm usually takes an hour to braid. That's because I only have one hand free - the other is holding the disk. But even with two hands it simply takes time to shift the threads from one side to the other.

I usually add a small (or large, depending on the amount of threads that I'm working with) weight to the thin thread holding the cords together, so that the tension remains equal while I'm working. That ensures that the braiding will be (fairly) even. If I use very long cords, then I'll roll up the dangling ends on bobbins or small spools so they don't get tangled.

While I'm working, I try to stay away from my four cats who think that I've just started up a new toy for them. :)

Because all those dangling threads are a *big* temptation to the four-footed ones...

When I'm done, then I pull the whole thing off the disk, tie off the ends with either silver wire or a very strong, thin thread. I trim the ends and attach the clasps, usually using super, super heavy duty glue that bonds in seconds. Among other things, on my hands, my fingers, my tongue (I was holding the cap between my teeth) and other interesting body parts... *gg*

Depending on the bracelet, I might add beads or other embellishments.

So that's the quick rundown on the round braided bracelets. Flat bracelet post coming up next. :)

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