Find Your Jewelry-making Mojo with Kumihimo Braiding

Leslie Rogalski Mutual attraction: beads and wire

My passion for all things beady has taken me to new levels of determination, levels of obsession . . . and I know you all know what I’m talking about. We practice and practice an element of our craft to get it right. Who knows why we are attracted to one thing or another, but who cares? Enjoy the seduction. My latest obsession is to bring beads and wire together in harmony, and my path recently brought me to play with a new weaving technique and an intriguing tool––the kumihimo loom.

Crossed wires
Since you all seem to be amused when I share my goof-ups (my burnt polymer bead post got a lot of comments!), go ahead and chuckle at my first attempt at kumihimo braiding. Using this round loom reminds me of a game that claims, “a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” It is a simple technique, a low-tech tool. So, though it’s more common to find kumihimo cords woven from more pliable fibers, I dove right in with a more challenging material.

kumi_moregrapes My first efforts used 24-gauge gunmetal Parawire and crystal pearls on a clear acrylic cord maker from Fiber Goddess. This picture shows the first wired cord coming out the bottom of the loom's center hole. Didn't I make a nice little bunch of grapes? Hmmm. Not my desired results.

Like riding a bike
And then I saw the pattern emerging. Aha, I thought, now I had it, the rhythm and balance. Self-delusion is such a rush while it lasts. I goofed up fast enough! It took me several tries to find my mojo. Each time I saw a goof I had to undo everything back to the beginning, since I didn't know the stitch pattern well enough yet to pick up from the last correct wire crossing. I had to undo all the wires, remove the pearls, use a nylon-jaw pliers to straighten the wires, restring the pearls, and start again.

But at last, by really paying attention, I had a good length going well. See how it makes a nice spiral of pearls? That's the way it all should look, though my wire tension could be more consistent. It didn't take nearly as long to fix as I thought each time, either. It's pretty fast.

A free project is looming in your future
I am still practicing, playing, twisting, and untwisting. Kumihimo braiding is my allure du jour, so naturally, I want to share and hear what you think.


Try this ancient Japanese technique, revived by today's artists, with ribbon, cords––or beads and wire, as I did. Find additional kumihimo instructions for using beads and wire in today's free project, Kumihimo Crystal Bracelet, designed by Vanessa Blevins.

I think I'll indulge my glorious obsession with beads and wire and try every technique I can learn. You can too, starting with a whole year of wire how-tos on one CD, with the Step by Step Wire Jewelry 2007 collection. All those diverse and inspiring projects in one place. Yay!

Which wire techniques do you most enjoy using with your beadwork? Tell us here on Beading Daily.

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