This project is evidence that braids have a way of turning out quite differently than you expect them to. Although it is almost impossible to see, it was made with two different colors of Imposter rayon – #11 Natural and #14 White – arranged to create a pattern of white diamonds on a neutral ground which I thought would provide a subtle damask effect in the finished braid. Perhaps it would have been more obvious if I could have used more threads per tama, but then the braid itself would have been too large to pass through the beads.
A holiday craft fair is held at the University of Florida on the first Saturday of December, and a good friend and I enjoy spending the day there each year. This year I tested her patience mightily when I passed a booth selling hundreds of different kinds of beads for the customized bracelets and necklaces that are very popular here. I decided that perhaps I could create a braid that would be small enough to pass through the beads, and I spent a very long time choosing possible combinations from the overwhelming display of options.
Instructions for the kongoh structure on the maru dai are found in all basic maru dai texts, including Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise on Braids Volume I: Maru Dai Braids, Jacqui Carey’s Creative Kumihimo and Beginner’s Guide to Braiding: The Craft of Kumihimo, Rodrick Owen’s Braids: 250 Patterns from Japan, Peru & Beyond, and Catherine Martin’s Kumihimo: Japanese Silk Braiding Techniques. The initial color arrangement is shown here.
I used a 567gram counterweight in order to make the kongoh structure a bit more supple and narrow. The warp consisted of two sections each of the #11 Natural and #13 White Imposter from Braidershand, doubled and each section divided in half for the sixteen 70g tama. The finished braid was at least four inches longer than the necklace because I lost the binding (and watched precious inches of braid unravel) twice while threading the beads onto the braid. The end caps and magnetic clasp are from Lavaliere Sterling and Stones, Inc. in New York City.
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.