It’s All In How You String It: Kumihimo Tips For Using Leather Cord and Wire In Your Kuimhimo Projects
Kumihimo, the ancient Japanese art of braiding, is one of my favorite examples of how age-old crafts get new life when they’re resurrected and done with modern materials. After my initial introduction to beaded kumihimo at Bead Fest Philadelphia a few years ago, I’ve been exploring the use of some very non-traditional stringing materials for making my kumihimo braids.
Kumihimo with Leather
I’ve always loved the look of leather cord in beaded jewelry designs, and I love the way it looks when it’s used for making a kumihimo braid. Most of the time, I prefer to use a 1mm or 1.5mm leather cord, which may or may not make it more challenging than using nylon cord or satin rat tail cord. Leather cord is a little stiffer than other types of stringing material for making kumihimo braids, so it takes practice to be able to maintain your tension when braiding. But with all the lovely colors of leather cord available from my favorite beading supply companies, it’s hard not to get carried away with creating lots of beautiful patterns and combinations. I never thought I’d say this, but leather kumihimo projects look so gorgeous, I (almost) don’t miss the beads!
Kumihimo with Wire
You can also make kumihimo braids using regular craft wire, and once again, all those yummy colors are just calling me to acquire one spool of each so I can mix them up and use them to make all sorts of colorful kumihimo braids. One of my favorite techniques for using craft wire for my kumihimo braids is to use a square foam kumihimo disc, which gives you a wonderful flat braid, reminiscent of the more complex wire weaving projects that I love.
Colored bead stringing wire is also a great option for making kumihimo braids, both flat and the traditional round or tubular braids. Stringing beads like pearls and crystals on your bead stringing wire before you begin braiding is a fun way to create beaded kumihimo projects with a distinctly modern look.
Experimenting with tension is important when you’re using any new kind of stringing material for your beaded kumihimo projects. It’s also important to remember that because these materials are stiffer and thicker than nylon cord or satin, they may wear out your foam kumihimo discs pretty quickly. Since the foam discs are so affordable, I usually like to designate separate kumihimo discs for use with wire, leather, and bead stringing wire apart from my usual nylon cord. This way, I don’t have to worry about losing tension on my beaded kumihimo projects made with nylon cord.
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Do you have a favorite stringing material for making kumihimo braids? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share it with us!