Kumihimo Technique - Japanese Braided Beauty

July 31, 2017

Kumihimo Technique - Japanese Braided Beauty

The History of Japanese Kumihimo

Kumihimo can be translated as ‘gathering of threads’ and the earliest Kumihimo in Japan is generally believed to date back 1500 years to the Nara Period (645-784 AD). 
In an article on Interweave about the history of kumihimo, the braided cords are described as being used in a variety of ways in the Japanese culture. Some of the most fascinating include:
      • Prevent poisoning - the unique decorative cords would be knotted around tea storage containers making it obvious if anyone untied them or tampered with the tea.
      • Worn in symbolic colors to banish bad luck and evil ghosts.
      • As a form of meditation for Buddhist monks
      • Integrated in formal Samurai attire - lacing up armor and wrapping around sword hilts to provide a more secure grip.
      • Worn as an obi belt with a kimono in traditional Japanese women's fashion

    kumihimo flat belt   kumihimo obi belt for kimono 

    images courtesy of DOMYO Japan

      According to the website Prumihimo, the one event that made kumihimo accessible to everyone "was the invention of the kumihimo foam disk by Makiko Tada. The disk is inexpensive, portable and very easy to use. It immediately became very popular with crafters around the world, who quickly found contemporary uses for the braid. Jewelry designers added a twist on this braiding technique by integrating beads. This being a relatively new addition to the craft, opened up a whole new genre within the beading world. With one simple, but clever invention, the braids which had secured armour and adorned ancient temples found their way to the necks and wrists of 21st century women."

        Here's what the Island Cove class instructors have to say about their love of Kumihimo:

        "I love kumi because it is so easy to mix your media. I love incorporating lampwork beads alongside the seed beads in the braid." - Marti Timmons

        "I love the history behind this Japanese braiding technique. The variety of fibers and beads you can use is endless, allowing you to create unique works of art." - Sue Lennon

        "The kumihimo technique is very repetitive and relaxing - almost meditative. It's also portable - you can easily take your project on the road." - Colleen Ewart

        "I've been designing with kumihimo for at least 13 years now. It's my favorite because you can get so many different looks depending on the beads and fibers that you use." - Susan Sudnik 

        floral kumihimo bracelet wire wrapped stone kumihimo bracelet kumihimo necklace bracelet pair

        Learn the Kumihimo Technique with Beads at Island Cove Beads & Gallery

        • If you'd like to learn this braided technique with beads, you can register online for the Kumihimo with Beads class, or call Island Cove directly and book a private class that fits your schedule.
        • The most fun part will be picking your colorful thread, beads, bead caps, and a clasp to finish off the piece. We have a wide variety to choose from, and you can browse our selection of artisan lampwork beads here to get your creative juices flowing before the class begins!
        S-Lon thread in multiple colors Kumihimo braiding disk Thread bobbins for kumihimo

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