I have been working with wire for my kumihimo designs for many years and I have experimented extensively to find the best way to use wire on the foam disk to make effective designs, which are also pleasurable to make. My first success was with a wire necklace design, which was a finalist in the Jewellery Maker of the year competition in 2011. To make the design I used bundles of fine wire to braid the necklace with additional embellishment and it remains to this day one of my favourite necklaces. What I love about it is that it brings something new to the traditional world of kumihimo. By using traditional techniques and non-traditional materials a very contemporary effect can be created.
As you may imagine, this design created a lot of interest and I had numerous requests for instructions, so when I set up my website in 2013 this was one of the first designs I provided as a tutorial. I also developed the technique to make a bracelet, which is a better starting point for working with wire because of the shorter lengths of wire involved. These two tutorials have remained popular ever since.
Also in 2013 I wrote a wire kumihimo tutorial for Beads & Beyond magazine. I wanted to offer something different, so I experimented with a traditional kumihimo braid to produce a light and pretty effect. I was delighted to find that my Twister bracelet achieved front cover glory!
Over the last few years I have have had fun experimenting with a few different braid structures and different types of wire, but didn’t find the time to write up new tutorials. I have also experimented with mixing wire with cord, which I was able to use to give structure to Christmas decorations. My latest experiments involve the Prumihimo disk because I was asked to deliver a wire Prumihimo workshop and it has been very satisfying working out suitable designs and planning the workshop. I am really looking forward to introducing my students to the wonderful world of wire kumihimo.
I am sometimes surprised that we do not see more wire kumihimo designs posted on social media and I think one of the reasons is that people are put off by working with thicker wire, such as 0.8mm or 0.6mm (20 or 22 gauge). The problem can be that it is more difficult to get an even effect with thicker wire and it can be very hard on your hands. It may not seem to bad when you start to braid, but I find that by the time I have made half a bracelet my fingers are feeling pretty sore and by the next morning my hands feel stiff. So I prefer to leave the thicker wire to those with stronger hands than mine and my designs rely on multiple strands of thinner wires, which are much easier to control and handle. The end result is still very robust and structural. My hands are definitely grateful!
In the workshop I will share my 10 golden rules for working with wire. I will teach an easy way to set up the disk and then we will proceed to making a plain braid. In the afternoon we will work on beaded wire kumihimo and I will teach how to embellish a wire braid and how to finish off with a really lovely wire ending and clasp. At the time of writing there are still a few places left on this workshop, which is at Riverside Beads in Market Deeping on Saturday 11th May. In addition to learning all about wire kumihimo it will be a great opportunity to connect with other braiders and to stock up on great wire and all sorts of other wonderful kumihimo goodies!
Getting out the wire has really inspired me to develop a few more ideas, as well as reworking some of my previous designs. I hope to have a few new wire tutorials by the end of the year, so watch this space!