Following on from my previous blog I would like to explain further free information that can be found on my website. This part involves lots of pretty things to look at, but first a story!
When you click on the Resources tab and scroll down you come finally to the Gemstone Kumihimo section, where you will find that there is lots to explore and learn. This part of my website was set up in 2014 when I was invited to become a Guest Designer for Jewellery Maker television. This shopping channel was at the time under the ownership of a gemstone company, so they had a strict policy of gemstone beads only. This meant that I would not be able to work with glass beads of any sort. I would estimate that at least 90% of beaded kumihimo makes use of glass seed beads and this is because they are small and regular in both size and shape, with good sized holes. Gemstones, on the other hand, are natural products and part of their appeal is that they are not uniform, so they tend to be irregular in size and shape, with drillholes which are usually very small. As a guest designer I would be sent kits of materials to use to make one piece for a demonstration and as many other items as possible. The live shows lasted for 4 hours and I would be sent either 2 or 3 kits for each show. This was obviously going to be very challenging, especially as I was usually only sent the kits just one week in advance of the show. The other issue was that the person making up the kit had virtually no knowledge of kumihimo! However, please do not think that I am complaining. Yes, it was tough, but it was also an opportunity to develop new techniques and to push my knowledge and skills to the limit. When the kits arrived in the post I would unpack them with great trepidation, wondering what on earth they had sent me. On more than one occasion I felt like crying when I saw the random collection of items! Now that I look back on the shows I realise that the more challenging kits produced the most exciting designs.
I worked for Jewellery Maker for two and a half years, appearing once a month, generally for the afternoon show. Live television is scary stuff. It is very intense and inevitably things do not always go according to plan. There really is no hiding place when you have several cameras on you, zoomed in for the close ups and then the shows were uploaded to YouTube with no editing possible. Every mistake I made is out there for ever, but so are all the detailed demonstrations I provided!
Towards the end of my time with Jewellery Maker they were bought by a media company and the gemstone-only rule was relaxed, so it was great to be able to work with more kumihimo friendly materials, but by then I was working hard developing my Prumihimo disk, so I decided to leave the company to give myself more time.
The reason for this long story is that the Gemstone Kumihimo section was set up to support my work for Jewellery Maker. In order to encourage the gemstone loving customers I wanted to have the information they needed available. This includes the following topics :
Threading Materials for Gemstone Kumihimo suggests suitable threading materials for gemstones and explains the effect the choice of threading material will have on the finished braid.
Gemstone Chips are a particularly popular bead for kumihimo and this chapter gives advice on how to choose chips as well as some design suggestions. There are also chapters focusing on 4mm, 6mm and shaped gemstones.
This is the part of the website where there are the most pretty things to browse! Although there was no obligation to provide written instructions for the designs I created I decided that I wanted to do so. After the shows I used to receive a lot of emails and messages about the designs, so it made sense to get it all written down. I also found it a very useful reference for myself because it really is impossible to remember all the details about how something is made when you make so many. When looking at these pieces of jewellery it is important to remember that they were created using very specific materials from a kit which is no longer available. However, with a little bit of experimentation they can be adapted for substitute materials. You also need to be aware that sometimes I had to use the name of specific Jewellery Maker products, rather than using their more familiar names. For instance, I often refer to ‘beading thread’, but this is actually flexible, plastic coated beading wire, such as Softflex or Tigertail. As kumihimo can be time-consuming not everything shown is kumihimo. I would often add in simple earrings or bracelets to add variety and to be able to offer a wider range of pieces.
The designs are organised in chronological order by show and on each page you will find images of the designs, bullet point style instructions and a link to the show. Please also remember that shopping television needs to devote most of its air time to selling, so you will need to fast forward through the show to find the demonstration and there will also be interuptions during my demos for even more selling. It is what it is!
I hope you will enjoy browsing through the pages, seeing lots of pretty things to cheer you up and finding inspiration to encourage you to pick up your disk. The following images are just a small taste of what is available!