Even when we’re making mistakes, we’re learning. This week there were far more “learning experiences” than successful projects in my workroom. Take the project in the photo at the left, for example. The first hurdle to overcome appeared when I needed to take the groups of threads off of eight of the tama and pass them through the hole in my carved pendant. As you can see, I failed to test whether the pendant itself could pass through the hole in the mirror. That error required reversing the procedure and then repeating it with the pendant underneath the mirror. Unfortunately, my ability to concentrate during the braiding of the second half of the necklace was woefully inadequate (I think I must have left it in one of the seven cities I visited the week before), and the two sides of the necklace did not match. Frustrated, I cut the braid off the pendant and decided to try the project again another time.
I have been enjoying the Silk Eyeglass Cord that I made last month, but when I’ve shown it to people I’ve met who ask about what kumihimo is, I found myself wishing for something a little more interesting than the solid color silk. One of the samples that I take with me to show students is a necklace made from sewing thread that I made years ago for a swap challenge. I needed a very small braid to accommodate a very small brass pendant, but I didn’t want a plain old kongoh braid. The uneri-maru-genji braid structure that I chose for that challenge has become one of my favorites. It is definitely a round braid, but the genji that spirals down the braid gives a great deal of visual interest even if done in a single color.
I chose to work with three colors of the Imposter rayon from Braidershand. For the main body of the braid I used three sections of #26 Purple, and I chose one section each of #62 Grape and #51 Lavender for the spiraling accent. I folded the 105″ sections in half for a 52″ warp, then divided each section in half to allow me to have 12 tama of #26 Purple, 4 tama of #62 Grape and 4 of #51 Lavender. The inital color arrangement (shown at right) allowed the medium and light colors to alternate in the chevrons spiraling around the braid. I began with a counterweight equal to 50% of the total weight of the tama, or about 25 ounces (709g). I decided to decrease the counterweight to 20 ounces (567g) so that the spiral would be less steep. I prefer the angle of the spiral but the braid is very stiff and I think in future I will try to make it more supple by adding to the counterweight. The final braid was 23 inches (63.5cm) long with a waste length of about 8 inches (20cm), making the take-up a bit more than 2:1. Instructions for the uneri-maru-genji structure on the maru dai are found on page 114 of Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise on Braids Volume I: Maru Dai Braids.The finished braid is slightly too large to fit into the end caps I used for several other recent projects, but I did have these from Silver Enchantments along with some new eyeglass holder findings from Darico.
This Week In My Workroom
Sometimes I work on specific projects, other times I'm just experimenting, but I am
Here's what's going on this week.
Artist’s StatementI enjoy kumihimo precisely because it is not a mindless activity – it demands my focus and attention, engaging the problem-solving part of my brain. Whether the structure is one that I am braiding for the first time or a familiar one, I am required to concentrate on the way the threads work together to form that particular braid. It forces me to pay close attention to the process instead of hurrying or looking ahead. The individual moves lead one to another predictably, and the structure, once understood, tells me what should come next. This peaceful, rhythmic flow added to the pleasure of the color interactions and handling the silk is the joy of kumihimo for me.