Embellished Kumihimo Braids

Emerald Collage

Some of the most elegant beaded kumihimo jewellery designs can start out as plain braids. Taking a needle and thread or a headpin to a plain braid can open up a whole new world of creativity and a really individual look. For the second kit I demonstrated on Jewellery Maker last week I decided to start each design as a plain (unbeaded) braid and work it up into something special. These are just a few of the methods which can be used.

Stitching. Kumihimo is a textile so it is easy to anchor a thread in the braid and attach beads. This method has the advantage of being completely freestyle, so you are not dictated to by the structure of the braid. Two or more braids can be sewn together and wire connectors can be attached with a few stitches. Partially beaded braids can be given extra impact with a few feature beads stitched exactly where you want them.

Wrapping. Wire or headpins can be wrapped aroung a braid. They can be used to wrap two braids together or to attach embellishments. They can also be used to finish off the ends of braids. Try not to wrap too tightly or the effect can be uneven.

Piercing. Wire and headpins can be used to pierce the braid to attach decorations or join braids. If the braid is very tight it can be helpful to pierce the braid first with a needle or to cut the headpin at an angle to create a sharp point. Be very careful not to pierce your finger. Holding a cork against the braid for the sharp end to make contact with is a handy trick!

Connecting. Loops, hooks and buckles can be made with wire to embellish a braid. Buckles are particularly useful for making adjustable connectors on lariat style necklaces. Use 0.8mm or wider for strength.

Some people may think that it is somehow ‘cheating’ to add the beads after the braiding process! It is certainly very satisfying to work out exactly which cords to thread the beads onto to achieve the effect you want and if you are interested in kumihimo purely as a historical or traditional art form then embellishment is probably not for you. However, in terms of jewellery making it is most definitely not cheating because jewellery is not about the process, but about the finished effect. Sometimes the structure of a braid will simply not accommodate beads where you want them. Sometimes you may finish a braid and then decide that it needs something more. I recommend giving it a go and keeping an open mind!

I have now posted the instructions for this kit and they can be found by clicking here.


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