Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy: Techniques for Perfecting Braid Structures
When first learning kumihimo wirework, you’ll notice right away that braiding with wire is different than other media you’ve used before. Wire is firmer and less forgiving than traditional kumihimo materials like silk or leather cording. With that comes a bit of a learning curve.
Kumihimo wirework is a craft that requires practice to perfect. It’s not difficult, just different. Once you have the basic tools, through practice you will discover the nuances of wire and how to achieve gorgeous finished results.
Never one to hold back helpful tips and tricks, author Christina Larsen shares lots of information related to braiding with wire in Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy. Learning how to prepare your wire before attempting the braid structures will lead to much more successful finished projects.
TECHNIQUES FOR BETTER KUMIHIMO WIREWORK
Preparing Wire For Braiding
Before beginning a braid, you need to prepare the wire to make them as easy to work with as possible. This involves straightening, securing, and in some cases, twisting the wires.
When getting ready to cut wire for a project, you need to straighten it to avoid kinks or bends. The crinkles can weaken the wire and affect the overall look of the finished braid. There are several ways to straighten wire. For each method, Christina recommends straightening wire while it’s still attached to the spool. It’s easier to hold the spool in your hand than to hold short lengths of wire.
- Fingers – Simply pinch the wire and run your fingers along the length of the wire several times, while working against the existing curve to even it out. This process also warms up the wire, making it easier to straighten and manipulate. This is Christina’s preferred method.
- Nylon-Jaw Pliers – Following the same principle, nylon pliers can be used to straighten wire. You’ll work against the existing curve in the wire to even it out using the pliers instead of your fingers. Nylon-jaw pliers are especially useful for lengths of wire that are tough to straighten, as you can get a better grip on the wire.
Working with wire for kumihimo can be tough on your hands and fingers, so take breaks. Because wire holds its shape, you can easily put down your work in progress without worrying about it getting ruined.
After you cut all of the wire for a project, lay the pieces flat next to each other with the ends evenly lined up. Cut a 1-1/2″ –2″ (3.8–5 cm) piece of electrical tape and place it near one end of the wires, making sure to leave a short length of wire sticking out underneath the tape, about 1/4″ (6 mm). Wrap the tape tightly around the wires, making sure the lengths remain flat next to one another. Securing the wire with tape like this keeps the wires from crisscrossing when you begin a braid.
Twisted wire adds a unique effect to kumihimo wirework. You can buy twisted wire or twist it yourself. There are several wire-twisting tools available on the market, but Christina simply twists her own. Whichever method you use, it’s important to note the length of the original wires being twisted will be reduced by about 10 percent for the final length of twisted wire.
To make twisted wire, cut one long length of wire and fold it in half. This will waste less wire and also leave a loop in one end, which can be securely attached around something, such as a door handle. The two open ends of the wire can then be attached to either a wire-twisting tool or a drill to start twisting them together. Twist the wire until it reaches the desired tightness, but be careful not to overtwist and break the wire. When finished, slide the wire off the doorknob; cut the loop off one end and the bent wire on the other before using in the braid.
Put Christina’s expertise in braided wire jewelry at your fingertips with Kumihimo Wirework Made Easy. It’s exactly what you need to create beautiful wirework jewelry from a timeless technique.
– Jodi Butler
Content Editor, Books
Kumihimo wirework has never been easier!