Kumihimo Wirework: 4 Quick Tips for Braiding with Wire
The beautiful braids achieved with kumihimo wirework lend themselves to a variety of finished projects. You can make stunning bracelets, statement earrings, striking pendants, and more, simply moving wires around a kumihimo disc in a repetitive pattern.
There is a bit of a learning curve though when you move from braiding with fiber to braiding with wire. To help get you around that curve and on the right path to making beautiful kumihimo wirework projects, author and designer Christina Larsen is sharing tips from her book Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy. With these four quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to easier braiding with wire and more beautiful finished results.
TIPS FOR KUMIHIMO WIREWORK
1. Practice with Inexpensive Wire
Creating kumihimo with wire is different than using fiber. It requires some practice to get comfortable with the techniques and achieve the desired results. To help you learn kumihimo techniques more easily and economically, Christina recommends practicing with less expensive wire while you’re getting used to braiding and discovering how to make the basic braid structures. These wires are more malleable and forgiving when first starting out.
2. Hold It Close
Once you have prepared the wires for braiding, how you hold the wire will give you more control over the shape of the braid. You want to keep your grip firm and close to the back of the kumihimo disc with one hand while your opposite hand moves wires. As your braid grows, continue moving your fingers as close to the underside of the disc as possible. If the braid feels misshapen underneath the disc, simply straighten it as you go.
3. The Tighter, The Better
When making kumihimo braids with wire, achieving the right tension in the braid is important. If the tension is too loose, the braid will become unmanageable and you won’t achieve the desired results. The goal is to get the different lengths of wire to lay as close to each other as possible within the braid. This creates a firm braid structure that can still be shaped. Practice the tension of the braids, until you feel comfortable and find your own rhythm.
4. Show the Wire Who’s Boss
It is important to remember that wire responds differently than fiber. Fiber cord is soft and easy to move, so it is easier to achieve a tighter and more even braid structure. Wire, on the other hand, is a hard material and not as easy to move. You can’t achieve a completely closed braid structure with wire. But you can achieve a fairly tight and even braid structure by working with the wires in specific ways when moving them on the disk.
You’re the boss, not the wire. Here’s how to get the wire where you want it:
- When moving wires from the top or bottom of the disk to the sides, pull the wire with a tight tension and press down where the wire is laying across the end of the braid so it sits as close to the other wires as possible.
- When moving wires from the bottom of the disk to the top, bring the wire up toward the top, while using your thumb to press the wire against the other wires it is crossing over at the end of the braid in a rolling motion. Use the same principle when bringing a wire from the top to the bottom of the disk, using your index finger instead of your thumb to press against the wires at the end of the braid while moving it in a rolling motion.
- When you have a wire on the side of the disk that you need to bring back into the braid, use either your index finger or thumb to press against the side of the braid as you are moving the wire to either the bottom or top of the disk. Alternate between using both hands when making these movements with your wire, depending on the braid structure.
- Every time you move a wire on the disk, run the wire through your fingers before placing it into the next slot. This will help straighten out any bends and kinks in the wire that will appear from using it on the kumihimo disk, and also help prevent damage and breakage to the wire.
- Sometimes lengths of wire that are next to each other will start to overlap on the disk. It is normal and has no effect on the final braid as long as you make sure to keep the wires in their correct slots on the disk.
With these few quick and easy tips for using wire in kumihimo you’re on your way to gorgeous, professional-looking jewelry designs. Grab a copy of Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy for even more in-depth information. We’re eager to hear what kumihimo projects you’ve made recently. Share in the comments below.
Editorial Director, Books
All images are © F+W Media, Inc.
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