This week’s project was yet another in a series of projects that required multiple attempts before I achieved the result I was looking for. I tried several different spiral braids that were unsatisfying. I wanted the braid to echo the spiral of blue and orange in the pendant, and there were lots of options. I felt that there was too much black in a plain kongoh spiral alternating orange-black-blue-black. I considered doing a spiral braid like the one in the Spiral Snake Necklace, but I didn’t like the idea of the stripes of blue and orange mixing around the black center. I even tried experimenting with a square structure with long floats to see if I could get it to spiral, but the resulting braid was not attractive to me. Finally I settled on the flat ridged spiral which can be done on either the kumihimo disk or the maru dai.
This braid is a variation of the ridged spiral structure on pages 21 through 24 of Makiko Tada’s Comprehensive Treatise on Braids Volume VI: Kumihimo Disk and Plate, although I added an extra set of four tama and worked the braid on the maru dai. The four sets of four move clockwise and never mingle with any elements from the other sets, so the colors stay separate. The black elements tie the structure together (also moving clockwise) but they form the edge of the spiral instead of the core as the braid for the Snake Necklace did. As with all spiral braids, the tama are allowed to “walk” around the mirror or disk, which helps to encourage the spiral to form and stay consistent. Moving the counterweight frequently is also important with this braid. While it may be possible to braid for a long time without moving the counterweight if you have long enough legs on your maru dai, the angle of the spiral will change if you do not keep the counterweight at a fairly consistent distance from the underside of the mirror. I found that braiding five or six sequences of the five movements was all that I could do before the counterweight needed to be adjusted. Moving the counterweight bag frequently also prevents the stress of the loop that holds the bag from deforming the braid when it is left in one place for too long.
I used sixteen 70g tama for the orange and blue elements and four 100g tama for the black elements. I used 680g of counterweight. Each tama carried 16 strands of 40wt machine embroidery rayon, and the black elements were measured at twice the length of the other colors to provide room for the extra take-up. The black elements are Robison Anton 2296 Black, the orange elements are Robison Anton 2397 Sunkist and 2236 Paprika, and the blue elements are Robison Anton 2441 Baltic Blue.
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.