Toolbox Essentials: Must-Have Tools for Kumihimo Wirework
An inexpensive kumihimo disk and some basic tools are all you need to create Christina Larsen’s braided wire earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. You’ll find a few extra tools mentioned in Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy, but they are not all crucial and some are interchangeable with tools or items you may already have around your house. Still, having proper tools is key for creating professional-looking pieces. Let’s explore what you really need.
Most of Christina Larsen’s kumihimo wirework can be done with just a handful of tools. Having a kumihimo disk is essential for forming the basic braid structures. If you don’t already own one, you can find them at craft stores and online retailers. Other basic toolbox staples include common jewelry-making pliers, which can be purchased anywhere from local bead stores to online specialty retailers. Note: There are a few things to look for when buying pliers (see below), including quality. You’ll have less hand fatigue thanks to the ergonomic design of higher-end pliers and your finished jewelry will look more professional.
These round or square shaped foam boards have evenly placed slots around the sides and a hole in the center, where the braid is formed. All of the designs in Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy were created with a square disk, which is primarily used for making flat braids.
Wire Cutters & Pliers
- Wire Cutters – You’ll need these for cutting the long lengths of wire used to make the braid structures. Christina recommends using flush cutters for designs that do not use ribbon ends because they provide a cleaner cut than standard wire cutters, which can help prevent wire burrs that can catch on clothes or scratch skin. Since the projects in Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy use fine gauge wire, it isn’t necessary to have heavy-duty wire cutters that cut up to 12-gauge thick wire. Basic wire cutters are perfect for the job.
- Chain-nose and flat-nose pliers – Both types of pliers can be used for bending and gripping wire more easily than using your fingers alone. Christina recommends using chain-nose pliers for tucking ends as the pointed tips can reach into smaller spaces more easily than flat-nose pliers. You’ll need both flat-nose and chain-nose pliers if using jump rings to attach findings.
- Nylon-jaw pliers – Useful for straightening and hardening wire, nylon-jaw pliers also protect delicate wire from scratches and marring.
- Round-nose pliers – These cone-shaped pliers are handy for making loops and widening the gaps within a braid.
Other Tools and Supplies
Christina recommends the following items for properly completing your designs.
- Tape – Tape is crucial for making wire kumihimo because it gives a starting point and helps keep the wires under control while you’re braiding. Christina recommends using black electrical insulation tape because it is strong and easy to use, without being too sticky.
- Glue – Essential for jewelry making, adhesive can help add extra strength and durability to your pieces. But it is important to find the right kind of glue. When working with wire, use glue that is compatible with metal, has a strong hold, and dries clear. Christina’s favorite is E6000 adhesive because it doesn’t dry too quickly and is easy to apply with a toothpick.
- Ring and Bracelet Mandrels – Mandrels are needed for sizing and shaping jewelry, particularly rings and bracelets. Most mandrels are made of metal, but ring mandrels can often be found in the more economical plastic version. Some designs use different size mandrels to help make one piece. You can get multi-step mandrels that offer different sizes within one tool.
- Measuring Tape – A measuring tape is crucial for wire kumihimo. Any type of measuring tape or ruler will work, but when measuring long lengths of wire, it is beneficial to use a longer measuring tape to be able to measure it in a single length.
The braids in Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy are finished using different methods. To customize your design, you can leave the wire as is or use a patina finish.
Liver of sulfur adds an interesting patina finish to jewelry. Wire kumihimo is ideal for patina as it takes advantage of all the natural texture within the braid and adds a different dimension to the final look. There are different ways to add patina to your pieces, but one of the easiest is to use a patina gel. If you have several pieces of jewelry you would like to patina, you can do them in batches, rather than one piece of jewelry at a time. Also, be sure to plan ahead, and use wire that accepts a patina finish, such as bare copper or sterling silver. If you would like to patina jewelry with beads in the design, most types of beads will not be damaged by the treatment. But avoid using porous gemstones, such as turquoise or pearls.
Do you already have these tools? Are you excited to get started with kumihimo wirework? Download our FREE Kumihimo Wire & Braid Structures eBOOK now and practice your braiding. With wire, a kumihimo disk, a few pliers, and other tools you’ll be braiding your way to gorgeous kumihimo wirework jewelry in no time.
Content Editor, Books
Note: All images are © F+W Media, Inc.
Start creating kumihimo wirework today with Christina Larsen!