(A while back I was in Suzie Q beads and really liked one of the examples in their showcase; kumihimo braiding. Traditionally this is done with silk or cord, but they had done it with vibrant leather cord, and added in lovely bits of sparkle with beads.
I made a mental note to look into Kumihimo braiding (and maybe take a class) but didn’t get much chance, until I saw a class being offered through a Continuing Education catalogue in their craft section. The price was a bit steep (though it did include most of the materials, although not all) but the date was the big problem – the class was set to take place at the same time as a birthday celebration I had committed to attending. I did a quick look online and found out that Beads & Plenty More http://www.beadsandplentymore.ca/classes.html also offered a similar class, so I signed up for it!
In my online-wanderings, I also found some other classes and inspiration. I’m noting them here to share with you – but also to inspire myself once I start the class!
Jan Buday offers a class that I was interested in taking – until I looked at some of the details and realized that although I had put “Calgary” in my search terms, she’s in Washington. Still, there are some cool examples, and she has a great two-handed stand for braiding available for sale which looks like a great tool for someone who wanted to do the braiding at home, watching TV or something. http://www.janbuday.com/classes.html I like that instead of special bobbins, she uses old film canisters! (I had a whole bunch of those… now to find them…)
There’s a list of workshops and teachers on the Weaver’s Hand site – unfortunately not a single entry of “Calgary”. http://www.weavershand.com/khworkshops.html
Beadworks on Granville Island (Vancouver, again, not Calgary) has a whole supply page for Kumihimo – including the discs, the bobbins, beads, and stringing material like leather cord, waxed cotton cord, rattail satin cord, silk cord, and nylon thread. http://www.beadworks.ca/new/categories/5729/kumihimo.html
Of course, I had to check out Suzie Q’s website too: http://suzieqbbb.com/classes-events/calendar/ they have their classes listed in a PDF (for Spring/Summer 2013: http://suzieqbbb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/SuzieQScheduleSpringSummer2013.pdf ) and they have a number of different kumihimo classes, ranging from beginner-style classes like Kumihimo Cool (the basic class for $30 + supplies) Mirror, Mirror (making two strands which mirror one another for a wider bracelet), and Beadiful Kumihimo using fine leather and size 6 Japanese seed beads. Then the classes get into more complicated designs like the Kumi-pearls class which is a fully-beaded bracelet, Kumihimo Sparks which incorporates wirework and crystal beads, and Magatama Magic using megatama beads (an oval bead with an off-centre hole) for another fully beaded bracelet. The class prices are good, but I’ve found Suzie Q to be pretty high on the price range for supplies themselves, so it might be a good option when I really know what I want to do… rather than just playing around.
The class at Beads & Plenty More
I got to the class a bit early as suggested, to pick out my materials. I was told to pick out 1mm wide leather cord (though I accidentally picked up the waxed cotton cord instead because they were mixed together, and the cotton cord had much nicer colours…) and size 6 seed beads.
(The cotton cord was nice because it was matte instead of shinier like the leather, but also difficult because it didn’t hold a point, and wasn’t as firm as the leather, so it made it more difficult to thread the beads onto the cord.)
Of course, while I was there I also saw a few dozen other things I wanted to get… isn’t that always the way?
- 1mm cord
- size 6 beads
- fine wire
- end caps
- pliers, wire snips
- Kumihimo disc
The class was pretty full – and the instructor led us through the first steps.
Prepare the cord
- We measured the cord to the length of a ‘wingspan’ – spreading our arms out. (So, about a meter and a half)
- We cut the cord, and then cut an additional three lengths.
- (This was actually WAY too much cord for a bracelet. I’m sure somewhere there is a calculation for how much cord is used up in this braid, to better estimate how much we’ll need.)
- We folded the cord in the middle, and tied an overhand knot so there was a loop at the end
- We attached the weight to the knot (in this case it was a clip-on curtain ring – not especially heavy, just heavy enough to weigh down the working portion) I discovered later how important this is to maintaining tension in the braiding, and thus a consistant look throughout the piece.
Setting up the disc
- Our instructor had us draw arrows reminding us to turn our disc counter-clockwise.
- We pulled the cords through the centre hole, and since this was an 8-strand braid, set two at the top, bottom and left and right sides.
- The knot is centered in the middle of the hole, to the back.
Starting the braid
- We began the braid by bringing the top left cord down from it’s slot, and tucking it in the slot on the left hand of the bottom two threads.
- Then the bottom right hand moved into the slot at the top on the right side.
- Then the disc rotates counter-clockwise, and repeats.
- The instructor suggested that if we needed to put down our work, and didn’t want to lose our place – that we should set our disc in the position with three threads at the top.
- For the beaded design we were doing in this class, we did about an inch of this plain braid. I think that it was a bit of waste – we would end up cutting off most of this – but it was great for getting us accustomed to the motions of the braid.
Adding the beads
- When we had about an inch of work, we started adding beads. The bead is threaded onto the the cord, as the cord moves from one position to the other.
- The instructor reminded us that it was really important that the bead lands in between the two cords to the side – I kind of thought of it as being cradled by the other threads. …Right bottom, bead, right top.. left top, bead, left bottom… turn… continue…
- Somewhere during the work I realized that I could pre-string on 6-8 beads at once to speed things up a little bit. This was a bit of an added complication, so I wouldn’t want to start out doing this for a first project, but when I make another, I’ll definitely use this technique again.
- …Right bottom, bead, right top.. left top, bead, left bottom… turn… continue… Basically we did this for the remainder of the class – and would until we had enough beaded cord to make our bracelet.
- I had hoped to completely finish the bracelet in class, but there wasn’t enough time. She showed us how to finish our ends, by finishing the end that we had started with. In the photo below you can see my work compared to the instructors – and the difference between the matte look of the cotton cord versus the sheen of the leather cord. My beads are also matte finish, while hers are shiny.
- First we threaded a fine piece of wire through the braid close to the beads, and wrapped it a few times around the cord.
- We twisted together the ends, and snipped off the wire.
- Then came the ‘brave’ step and cut off the excess cord.
- Our instructor brought out some E6000 glue, which we filled one bead cap with, pushed the cord in, and used some masking tape to hold it in place while it dries. (Our instructor suggested it would take 24 hours to cure completely.)
- We wouldn’t be able to finish the work in class, so from here we would finish the braiding, tie off and cap the other end, and then attach jump rings to the bead caps followed by a clasp of our choosing.
If you’re interested in taking the class at Beads & Plenty More, the one I took was called Beaded Kumihimo, and it’s described as:
“Let’s take it one step further and add beads to our Kumihimo weaving. Easier than round crochet but with a similar look.” Dates were in February and March – though it looks like they publish class dates every few months, so I imagine this is offered several times per year.
My completed project
Stay tuned! I’ll finish up the project soon and post it in an upcoming post.