Kumihimo Series Builds Skill

My recent project list included a kumihimo series. Kumihimo, gathered threads, refers to the Japanese art of combining cords or threads. 

Although I’m mostly self-taught in the kumi arena, I have taken some classes. In early February, I enjoyed a Sugar Rush Kumihimo class presented by Rebecca Ann Combs of Design and Adorn.com. What impressed me about her offering was the care, precision, and attention to finishing details. As I explored Rebecca’s book, Kumihimo Basics and Beyond, in the quiet of my studio, I realized her incredible detail was available to me in print. Fiber- focused braiding, project one in her book, tempted me to experiment.

I chose bright turquoise and fuchsia strands which I’d purchased at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show in 2018 to create a simple bracelet and earrings. In search of a focal to add to the braid, I turned to my always handy stash. There, in a forgotten corner of a plastic box, was a turquoise ceramic goddess from an artist in Taos. (Note to self: make better notations of artisan names so you can give credit.) 

A simple beaded cabochon seemed like the perfect element to complement the colorful braid. I quickly added fuchsia beads to the cabochon, then designed a peyote bail which I could slip over the braid. The coordinating colors were impactful in their simplicity.

Referring to the detailed instructions provided by Rebecca, I gently stretched, then bound my braid with beading thread. The braid yielded an 18-inch necklace and a 7-inch bracelet, each finished with silver cones.

Happy with the results and not one to rest on my laurels, within the week, I found three additional kumi projects to complete:

  • Two Double 8 Kumihimo Bracelets — one a multi color and another in red
  • An adjustable 7-strands Kumi pendant necklace

The lovely kits which offered up these projects were gifted to me on the day I gifted my tatting materials (numerous balls of yarn, shuttles, patterns and tools) to the woman who taught my tatting class. On my way to the metalworking studio, I stopped to return a borrowed lap frame from a fellow creative who pressed the kits into my hands. The rest is history.

The repetitive nature of kumihimo lures me into its love affair. Just as quickly, I tire of the braid and put it away until a new idea tugs at my sleeve. This is the restless side of my muse, quick to act and quick to change.

You can bet that my project bag for road trips will include a kumi effort. I plan to explore Rebecca’s book further, to work with different shapes of beads and different types of materials. Next on my list: teardrops with ribbons.

Do you have something in your stash that you could use in this manner? Where have your side projects led you? I love hearing your stories. It fires my creative muscle every time.

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