Options for Finishing Your Kumihimo Braids

I blame it all on Beadwork magazine Designer of the Year Jill Wiseman. Jill is famous for getting hundreds hooked on kumihimo beading through her amazing easy-to-follow classes at big bead shows like Bead Fest Philadelphia.

Jill Wiseman beading kumihimo
Above: Jill Wiseman gets me hooked on kumihimo.

Below: My five-year-old son gets in on the action and helps me load a set of beads for a kumihimo braid.

5 year old boy helps with kumihimo braid

Last summer, I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and signed up for one of Jill’s kumihimo classes. The name sounded innocent enough: Basic Kumihimo With Beads. Harmless, right? Just another fun beading class with a bunch of fun ladies?

Well, after that one class, I was hooked. And not just hooked, like having a summer crush on the cute lifeguard at the pool. We’re talking maniacal, borderline obsessive-compulsive disorder, here. I can’t go for a long ride in the car without bringing along a couple of foam kumihimo discs, loaded with beads and threads. Even my five-year-old son has gotten into kumihimo patterns, learning from his momma how to string beads onto the threads using a big-hole needle!

So now that I’ve been bitten by the kumihimo bug (thanks a lot, Jill), I’m looking for different ways to finish those pesky ends of my beaded kumihimo braids. So far, here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Glue, beading wire, and end caps. The easiest way to finish your kumihimo braids is the way I learned in Jill’s class, using a glue like E6000 and a pair of end caps. Tie off your braid using beading thread and snip it, then coat the plain braid with a generous amount of glue. Slip a piece of beading wire through the space between the plain braid and the beaded braid, and through the end cap. Slip on a bead, a crimp, and your clasp, squash the crimp, and then thread the ends of the beading wire back down into the end cap.

2. Use the ends for button and loop closures. Of course, because I have these trust issues with glue, I thought about using the braided ends to create a button and loop closure on a simple bracelet. It worked!

Make one end of the plain braid long enough that you can tie it into a small loop, and sew your button to that small loop. Make the other end long enough to wrap around that button, and then tie off the long thread ends. (And, yes, a little bit of glue would help to keep those loops secure.)

When you’re working this technique for making a button and loop closure on your kumihimo braids, just take care to leave extra-long thread tails so that you can work them into the braid with a needle without too much difficulty.

3. Add a piece of wire to one end. I haven’t quite mastered it, yet, but there’s a way to insert a small piece of craft wire or beading wire at the very beginning of your kumihimo braid for use in attaching a clasp to the finished project. This could also be used to attach a button for finishing, and then making a loop with the other unbeaded end of the braid as suggested previously.

Again, since I have trust issues with glue, the other way to finish your beaded kumihimo ropes is to make a shorter braid at the beginning and end of each piece, and then insert a piece of craft wire, making a wrapped loop around the plain braid. Leave enough wire to accommodate your end cap, slip on the end cap, and then make another wrapped loop where you can attach your clasp. Look, ma, no glue!

4. Make Your Own Endcaps. I’ll be exploring this last one in greater depth over the coming weeks: the idea of making your own beautiful, custom beaded endcaps to finish your beaded kumihimo braids. I mean, why not? Sometimes, I think life is too short to use pre-made jewelry findings. Why not tap into all your bead-weaving skills and use your favorite beading stitches like peyote, herringbone, or even tubular right-angle weave to create your own custom kumihimo endcaps?

Have you been bit by the kumihimo bug? Make sure you check out all the fabulous ideas for making and using kumihimo braids in this free eBook, and Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing magazines! Find inspiration with product reviews, bead news, basic and advanced techniques, and innovative beading projects from your favorite designers. Right now, as part of the Summer Sidewalk Sale, subscriptions to both Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing are on sale! Make sure you subscribe to one (or both) of these comprehensive beading resources, and check out all the great deals through June 23, 2013 in the Beading Daily Shop!

Do you have a great idea for finishing your beaded kumihimo ropes? Do you have trust issues with your glue, like me? Do you prefer the wrapped loop method? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your tips and techniques with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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