I design … I teach … I create … I craft … I love kumihimo

Archive for the ‘kumihimo tips’ Category

Design Notes

With every design I think, “Oh, I’ll remember that” … and with every design I’m usually quite wrong.

It took me a while to establish a system that was a) convenient b) accurate and c) useful for me once some time had passed. I’m happy to share some of my secrets here with you.

My primary documentation tool is my smart phone. Truly, my childhood dream came true when modern technology made it simple to have a camera, calendar, computer, clock, phone, flashlight and more — all in one device that fits in a pocket.

With my phone, I photograph and video all the glorious details of learning a new braid or making a new design. I get it all: before, during and after.

My process is simple:

  1. Photograph the materials
  2. Photograph the setup
  3. Make a simple ‘reminder video’ as I braid so I remember the sequence
  4. Photograph the finished braid
  5. Write down the numbers (# of warps, # of ends in a warp, tama weight, counter weight, width of finished piece … any number that seems significant)
  6. Note anything that should be done differently the next time
  7. Put it all together in a folder
  8. Back up the data
  9. Print out the details (offline references come in handy)

I recently learned a square 8-warp Kaku Yatsu braid. My design notes look like this (click on an image to get more info) …

 

I also made a very short reminder video of the move sequence on the marudai. My reminder videos are very brief but I find them super helpful. I encourage you to document your own design journey so you can have an objective view of your growth as an artist.

Once I removed the braid from the marudai, I took some close-up photos in natural light. This photo set shows the braid detail and gives a better idea of the colors.

I have not yet turned this piece into jewelry. When I do, I’ll photograph the finished ends and any embellishments. I’ll also note details on the findings.

Ba da bing! Ba da boom! That’s all there is to it.

With these handy notes, I’ll never completely forget how to make an 8-warp Kaku Yatsu braid.

I hope you find some of this helpful as you document your own creative fun. If you have helpful tips or suggestions, please share.

 

Creatively yours,

IMG_6560-1

Stringing Beads

Tools are great. I truly like adore my tools. A perfect tool for a job is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes, though, the best tool is … no tool.

People frequently ask me what needle I use to load beads onto my cords for beaded kumihimo. I make and wear a lot of beaded kumihimo. A LOT. Oodles.

In fact, I finished a beaded kumihimo bracelet this weekend that has just over a thousand size 8/0 beads.

Exactly 1,056 beads.

Exactly 1,056 beads.

But I don’t use a beading needle.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried many beading needles. And I’m disappointed every single time.

I prefer to stiffen the ends of my s-lon cord with Gum Arabic Beading Glue and let the end of the cord become the needle.

The process is super simple and takes very little time. It’s even a bit messy. (Messy = fun, right?)

1. Cut the end of your cord at an angle.

I'm using size 18 Super-Lon cord. First, I cut the end of the cord at an angle to form the point of the "needle".

I’m using size 18 Super-Lon cord. First, I cut the end of the cord at an angle to form the point of the “needle”.

2. Dip at least 2″ into the Gum Arabic. Use your fingers to wipe off the excess, making sure the end of the cord is coated well but not dripping.

Dip at least 2" into the Gum Arabic. Use your fingers to wipe off the excess, making sure the end of the cord is coated well but not dripping.

Dip at least 2″ into the Gum Arabic. Use your fingers to wipe off the excess, making sure the end of the cord is coated well but not dripping.

3. Hang the cord to dry. It doesn’t really matter if the cord is perfectly straight or a little curved. Once the cord is dry, it will be stiff enough to use as a needle to load your beads.

Once the gum arabic is dry, your cord tip works as your bead needle.

Once the gum arabic is dry, your cord tip works as your bead needle.

When you’re done loading beads, just tie a square knot in the end of your cord. This is just a temporary “needle” after all.

Gum arabic is water soluble and washes off hands and tools.

I hope you find this helpful.

What’s your preferred method of loading beads? I’d love to learn  your process.

 

Creatively yours,

Monica

My Favorite Handmade Kumi Weight: A Recycled Failure

In my last post, I showed a variety of handmade kumihimo weights and explained simple methods you can use to make your own kumi weights. As I promised, I will now unveil my favorite handmade kumi weight.  Drum roll, please ….

Monica's current favorite handmade kumi weight.

Monica’s current favorite handmade kumi weight.

Side view of handmade double-sided swivel kumi weight.

A few weeks ago, I was in a rush to leave the house. I grabbed the beaded kumihimo project I needed to weave … knowing I would have time to kill between appointments … but realized I didn’t have a free kumi weight handy. Ack! So I grabbed the first thing I could think of: a double-sided pendant I had ruined the previous evening during a jewelry experiment. Sure, it was ugly. But hey, it was something to let gravity gently tug the cords… and it worked great!

I experimented with the design over the next couple of weeks until my persnickety self was satisfied. I’m finally ready to proclaim this my favorite kumi weight.  For now.

What features make this my favorite?

  • The oversized lobster claw clasp makes this weight easy to remove from the finished kumihimo weave.
  • This style of clasp also lets me easily add the weight when I begin weaving at the midpoint of my cords.
  • This weight swivels, which reduces unwanted twisting of my finished weave.
  • Snag-free design with tucked wire wrap, meaning only one cut end is exposed.  And the exposed end has been smoothed.
  • It weighs approximately 1.6 ounces, the same as the smaller (standard) size gator weight.
  • Additional weight can be added easily, if necessary.  Think: washers & string.
  • It’s made with tarnish-resistant materials.
  • It’s pretty.  Hey, sometimes aesthetics matter.
  • It’s waterproof.  (Now, does a kumi weight really need to be waterproof?  No.  I’m just bragging.)
handmade swivel kumi weight

Beaded kumihimo with my handmade swivel kumi weight.

I like this design so much, I’m including this kumi weight in the supplies kit for my next Parkland College kumihimo class. And I added it to my Etsy shop and online store.

What’s the moral of this story? Use what you have. Find that functional solution, even if it’s ugly.  Recycle your failures.  You may surprise yourself with what you discover and how you can change it. I know I did.

What surprise tools or solutions have you discovered?

Happy kumihimo-ing!

Monica

Making Your Own Kumi Weights

If you kumihimo on a foam disk, a kumi weight is a basic — and essential — tool.  Placed on the beginning end of your warps (cords), a kumi weight helps you keep consistent tension in the finished braid.

You can easily make your own kumihimo weight.  It’s super simple and can probably be done with stuff right in your home… like a scrap of string and some washers from your toolbox.  Or an empty prescription bottle with a hook on top.

DIY kumihimo weights

DIY kumihimo weights: a prescription bottle with coins, a large safety pin with metal washers and a scrap piece of string with metal washers.

When selecting your components, consider items that…

  1. won’t snag your cord.
  2. will easily remove from your finished project.

Most people are comfortable with a kumi weight in the 1.5 oz – 2.5 oz range.  An added bonus of a DIY kumi weight?  You control the weight, so it’s always exactly what you need.

Commercial kumihimo weights with gator clips (also known as “gator weights”) can be purchased from a variety of craft places. I confess, I even carried them in my shop for a brief time. But the minute a gator weight snagged my cord, I went back to making my own.

Gator weight

Gator weight

In my next post, I’ll show you my favorite kumi weight (yes, I made it myself) and tell you why I love it.

Have you experimented with making kumihimo weights?  What do you use — and why do you like it?

Creatively yours,

Monica